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Horse getting unpredictable and dangerous

Hi Franklin,

I read many of your help topics on your website and did not see one that fits my unique situation, so I decided to ask your advice.

I am a 32 yr. old riding instructor and have had much success competing in barrel racing and other games/speed events for several years at the local, regional, and nat'l levels. I have always enjoyed all types of horses, especially the fast, hot ones. However, in 2002-2003 I took some time off due to pregnancy, and again in 2004-2005. In June of 2005, I decided that I was finished having babies and wanted to get back into riding and competing full swing. So, I took a large sum of money I had saved from giving lessons over the past 11 yrs. and bought an AQHA mare from a local trainer of good reputation. She was 11 yrs. old and had a history of running rodeo and NBHA 1-d. She was advertised as a "beginner's barrel horse", "bomb-proof", and "will go any speed you want". This drew me to her since I had been on and off during pregnancy and wanted a "babysitter" to get me back into the sport. I took my time getting used to her and fighting confidence issues of my own that I can only attribute to having children vs not having children previously. About a yr. after purchase, we began showing locally and winning some. She was doing well and I was working on her to do more than speed events to round her out some. I will say, however, that she never has "gone any speed I want"- she walks and trots the barrels, and then gallops in a fast chargy manner- no lope or slower, easier gallop to baby-sit me. Anyway, the major problem is that she started to get ugly with her ears, pinning them, being unhappy about moving forward, slowing in her turns, etc. She began to not run, or flat charge after persuasion- sometimes out of control. At the walk and trot, she has always remained slow, easy, and a joy to ride. She even drags her feet like a pleasure horse. But, a couple of months ago, I was riding in the ring and asked her for a lope circle. This should have been no problem, however she warned me several times with her ears and tenseness in neck and back, then finally loped. 2 strides later she yanked her head down and bucked like a bronc. I came off. I got back on, walked and trotted, then tried the lope circle again, same thing with the warning signals, so I got off and lunged her. Again, dead quiet at the walk and trot, as soon as I cued the lope, took off bucking, pulled the rope from my hands. This is not normal for her as she lunged well before. Did this twice exactly the same as soon as I cued the lope. So I took the rope off and chased her around the pen until she finally bucked it out. Got back on, tried the lope again, same ear and tense neck and back. Got off, confidence shaken. Called the vet, got 2 chiro. adjustments, 2 acupuncture. Waited then tried again, same deal-good w/t, ears pinned, locked up stride, tense head and neck when asked to lope. Changed saddles and gave her 1.5 months off during treatments. So, now, this is where I am. I have a barrel horse that won't even lope, much less do barrels. I am also wary of her because I am not sure if/why she may buck. I am already fighting some confidence issues as it is. I have started running another horse and am doing well bringing him along. My problem remains that I have a mare that is no longer rideable in her sport. I am not sure if this is forever, or if it can be fixed. I have done lots of groundwork and she passes all of the exercises with an "A". So... Please help. I don't want to sell her like this because she is a problem and unsafe, and also I can't get anywhere close to my money out of her because she won't barrel race anymore. I don't need another trail horse, especially at her price, still I'd rather her to be fixed and run again. Again, please help.

Thanks, Aspen

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