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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gogo, A History (Part II, 2007)

Apparently I am in the blogging mood tonight. I'm actually just part excited to have a blog, and part stalling because I really need to start packing for my move to CT. I'm currently in MI at my parents' house temporarily while I'm prepping to make the move. I just got a groom job at a very nice dressage barn with some great people. I get an apartment, a stall with full training board, AND a salary on top of that... sweet! I'm looking forward to actually being in training with someone for the first time ever since I've had Gogo. Our dressage scores are always good, but I want them to get better. I also want... well, there's a lot I want. This post isn't about that!

Anyway, back to where we left off. New Zealand! It was an amazing journey. My roommate of the past four years also went with me, and I couldn't have asked for a better travel buddy. I didn't get to ride much when I was there, but we did take a couple rather terrifying flat-out galloping trail rides through the En-Zed brush. I have about 83727495934729299492021910 amazing pictures from all the tramping we did, but I'll just leave you with one of my many favorites:

Wow. And by wow, I mean HOLY FREAKING GOD. It really was the trip of a lifetime. We saw (and tramped in) all 14 national parks, and it ain't easy getting to them. I remember fording an actual river with a rental car once to get to one outside of Wanaka, and then driving through cattle pasture after cattle pasture over cattle grates... on the way back, we actually got stuck IN a herd of cattle while we were driving the car. New Zealand style rush hour...

Back to Gogo. Well, I didn't hear much from my mother, who promised to send me updates all the time. She is extremely non-horsey (this is the woman who told me that it was very important to do a pre-purchase Metro, "in case he's caught founder."), so her updates weren't helpful. I heard things like "she's learning to not be a princess" and "switched from Gro N' Win to Safe and Easy." First off, WE were paying for her grain, and I TOLD her to leave her on the ration balancer. What did she do? Switch her almost immediately without my permission. From 2 lbs of Gro N' Win to 8 lbs of Safe and Easy. WHY. So after a few months of literally hearing NOTHING, I finally got the trainer's number and called her from New Zealand, because I couldn't stand it anymore. What I heard freaked me out - I was told she was stupid, had no work ethic, was spooky and bullheaded, and dull to work around. Now, this to me sounded like the kid in kindergarden who is very smart but feels mistreated by the teacher, so he then withdraws from classwork and social activity instead of flourishing. The teacher then tells the parents that the kid is too stupid for whatever level of work they're supposed to be doing, and demotes the kid to special 'slower' classes. Which makes that kid feel just awesome. The woman also told me that at that exact moment in time Gogo was standing in the aisleway behind her while she was on the phone "with her ears and lip drooping." Now, Gogo was - is - ALWAYS very alert and in tune to her surroundings. She never lets her guard drop, so this was a bit startling to hear. Second, STUPID? No, not stupid. Stubborn, yes, but NEVER stupid. I was worried. Very, very worried.

And it was rightfully so. I got back from New Zealand in late June to find this:

A NIGHTMARE. I watched the trainer ride her at the facility and it was clear that all she had done was lunge the horse excessively, then very rarely get on and try and force her into a frame, which resulted in Gogo learning how to rear and becoming horribly claustrophobic when it came to any sort of contact at all. Her haircoat was dull, her feet were a huge mess, she had ZERO topline muscle down her entire neck, back and rump, she was thin, and she had a dull, zombie-like expression, like she was withdrawing from the world to someplace inside herself in defense. She was skittery as though she thought I might hit her, and she had scarring on her nose from where she had been shanked excessively. (I've NEVER used a chain on this horse save for once or twice when she was learning how to have her mane pulled). I was horrified. HORRIFIED. When I went into her stall when I went to pick her up, the mare that always greeted me at the door was standing in the back of her stall with her head down. She didn't even look up at me when I walked in, nor did she show any emotion at all when I went to pet her. I almost broke down and started to cry right there.

About Gogo's feet: Sherry is a highly-certified AANHCP field instructor. The woman I chose to trim Gogo's feet while I was in NZ was also an AANHCP certified practitioner (who is now a field instuctor too) who ended up doing a rather horrible job with her. I'll have more posts later relating to the title and rating system in the AANHCP and the AHA, but not now. About Gogo's feet, it was partly nutrition and partly the trim, but I wanted to punch the trainer in the head when she smirked at me and said, "See? That barefoot hojo doesn't work. I'd recommend putting shoes on right away." I wanted to slap her and say, well OBVIOUSLY YOU know what's best for horses. I also, on my way out, saw a horse in a stall with a literal MELON-sized growth of proud flesh on one of its legs. It was also skin and bone. "Oh, that," the trainer said. "Well we rinse it off every day." O.O

It was hard. I pulled her then 11-inch mane ("Well, I didn't know if you wanted it pulled" - HELLO she's a SHOW HORSE and she came to you WITH A PULLED MANE, AND I TOLD YOU to pull her mane!), gave her a bath, and immediately switched back to Gro N' Win and as much hay as the barn owner would let me give. She threw me twice in the first week I had her back, once into a huge ditch and the other into the arena fence. She was sluggish, afraid, and explosive. She didn't really start to improve until I moved her back to college, for a lot of reasons really. I had already signed up and paid for a few rated shows while I was still in NZ (because the trainer ASSURED me she would be ready to show right when I got home), so I managed to struggle through those. One was Waterloo July Dressage in MI, and that was pretty awful. The other was the South Farm H.T. in early July, which kind of went better but not so much. She somehow managed a 39.0 on her dressage, and finished on that score in 6th place. She jumped around the stadium course well, but the x-country was prettttttty scary.

But she looked cute! Not every show was a failure - we got our first blue ribbon at Grand Haven Summer Dressage in August in Training 2, winning the class with a 69.3%! The best score I'd ever gotten, holy crap! The other Training tests went all right too, but that one was the best by far.

It still wasn't going too well though... once particular jump lesson in early September nearly ended in disaster when we crashed through a small fence for no real reason. She had been bolting through my hackamore (which had, up until that day, been working very well with jumping), and we were just trotting in to this fence. She randomly just didn't pick up her feet, got a rail tangled in her front legs, and we both wiped out. I tore something in my shoulder, and it's still a bit deformed today and gives me problems from time to time. The MOST exciting and horrible thing that happened to us was at the Erie Hunt & Saddle Club H.T. in late August. My poor parents came all the way down from MI to watch me, and it was their ANNIVERSARY that day too. We trailered out the day before the show, and I was going to school her that evening while they went back to the hotel. I should have known something bad was going to happen when I dropped the butt bar of the trailer, which I had done 9 billion times before in exactly the same way, and she pulled back, broke her halter and almost fell backwards out of the trailer into my non-horsey parents' laps. While I was schooling her, she was being rather horrible, and I started gradually moving to the other side of the field where we were riding. She spooked at a very small pile of non-scary things (on purpose, I think!), bolted sideways, lost her balance somehow and fell.... on my head. I remember a split second of the fall, then there's nothing until a very hazy image of people overtop of me telling me something about where they had taken my horse (apparently, she stood up carefully overtop of me and was immobile, looking down at me like OH MY GOD I'VE KILLED HER.) I remember bits and pieces of the next few hours (and days, and weeks...), I apparently had a very bad concussion. So THAT sucked. And my poor parents spent their anniversary in the hospital eating crappy hospital food and sitting around for hours while their daughter got CAT scans and x-rays. Nice.

The rest of the summer and fall was spend getting her brains back, playing, working some on dressage, and putting weight on her. We went on lots of trail rides, and even went to a fun contesting show where we won like, every freaking class.

We FINALLY started to come together at the end of the year, and won several of our Training Level classes at Lake Erie College's Winter Dressage in November, including getting another 69.9% on Training 2. I just can't break that 70%!
Gogo spent part of winter break at my fiancee Alex's house, which ended up being a HUUUUUUUUUGE disaster. I wanted to give her a few weeks of breaktime, and some time with her girlfriend Polly (another dark bay mare who Gogo LOVES). Alex's barn is a three-stall barn, and our herd of three started off well together, but Gogo started to get bored while out of work. REALLY bored. First, she sliced off a HUUUUGE chunk of her foot while kicking the wall at Polly. So we moved her across the way so she could be in the stall where she couldn't touch anybody. But she COULD reach the huge tack trunk... and over the course of a few days, she repeatedly took her halter off the hook, placed it on TOP of an overturned bucket (more than once), kicked the wall and pushed the enormous tack truck away from the wall, pulled the tupperware bins full of blankets into her stall, broke the latch to her stall gate, squeezed her way around the narrow people-only corridor to the LATCHED grain bins, unlatched them, ate her fill, dragged one of the bins STILL upright into the middle of the barn aisle, and peed on the stepstool. And wasn't sick. We fixed the latch, but she wasn't satisfied. The next day she lifted the gate OFF the hinges, got back into the grain AGAIN, then let herself out into the field and refused to be caught.

Hmmmmmm. We actually dubbed her barn "The Looney Bin" because of all this nonsense. So after a very Merry Christmas, I moved her to a different barn again, and put her back into work. Which leads me to 2008... but that is for another time. As for now, I should probably go comfort the kitten who just had her ovaries ripped out today. Ouch....

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