We are in the second week of short, in-hand walks around the pasture. Given the combined talent of horse & rider, this is an astounding level of underachievement. The theory is to identify exercises where gold stars can be handed out by the fistful. The goal is to get back to a place where he likes work & I like him. Buried under 16 months of set-backs is the marvelous mid-life crisis horse who so enchanted me when we met.
Anyone want to share their frustration story? Preferably one with a happy ending?
3 thoughts on “We begin. Again.”
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I’ll tell you the (Abbreviated) Saga of Tempo, but it isn’t very encouraging. He was an OTTB I got from the local rescue/adoption — cute, chestnut, huntery, sound, a bit of a cribber but otherwise a very pleasant soul. Until you got on his back. Not sure what drugs he was on the day I tried him, but he sure wasn’t the same horse once I got him home. Some sort of track trauma had convinced him that he just wasn’t going to go along with this whole Being Ridden thing. Not that he ever did anything dangerous, but he was really, really good at threatening to. Even on his good days, it was one step forward, 27 steps back, and I got to the point where I just avoided him because I could spend the same hour riding my homebred, Spike, and actually have FUN instead of beating my head against a wall.
I persevered with Tempo, on and off, for about three years but never was able to figure him out. Maybe he just needed to have a real rodeo with someone and lose … but I’m not young enough for that crap anymore! Eventually I gave him away to a friend who had just lost her old Appaloosa and needed a companion horse for the other beast in her field. AFAIK, he is merely decorative these days. But I have faith that Rodney will not inflict a similar fate upon you. He’s gonna get his shit together, I know it. 😉
One thing that I noticed with Tempo is that he really shook my faith in my own abilities to ride and train. He is possibly the first OTTB I have not been able to turn into a productive citizen. Don’t let Rodney do this to you. You have the skills. It’s not you, it’s him.
Oh, I could tell you stories. Rode the same horse for twenty two years. She made me look like a winner. She was an insanely better horse than I deserved. She abruptly died last winter and I replaced her after swearing I was done with that life. Another mare, another young Arabian. What the heck was I thinking? I’m twenty two years older than I was the last time around! But I took precautions. I boarded her at her birth barn for a month while I rode thrice weekly under the watchful eyes of her trainer. She was a perfect lady. A diamond in the rough. I was SO excited, even in my grief. Brought her home and gave her a week to settle in, hand walking her all over the place and giving her lots of TLC and whatnot. She was taking everything in stride, really adjusted well.
About then I decided I should get on her and just walk her around the arena. Fortunately, a little voice in my head told me to wait until my husband was home so he could go with me. We walked down the ring together, everyone calm as a cucumber. I walked her around the arena a few times just to let her check everything out and relax, then took her to the center of the ring and mounted. She tossed me on my keester in less than three minutes, wrenching my right knee badly in the process.
Considering I came off the previous horse twice in two decades, this was a HUGE setback for my confidence. If I was still thirty I probably wouldn’t give it a second thought, but three spinal fusion surgeries and three and a half decades later, I’m not amused. It took my knee two full weeks before I could even bear my own weight. Needless to say, I couldn’t ride. I did hand walk her around as much as I could, but I knew I wasn’t in any condition to do much if she lost her brains. Fortunately, she didn’t.
I’m now nine months into this journey and I’ve been tossed one additional time since. I’ve put a lot of miles on this mare since our initial incident so I feel like I’m starting to get her number, but on the days when I feel like I’m riding a bottle rocket I keep telling myself I’m over horsed and wondering what was I thinking? I dunno. I’m not used to being that person who questions herself and wonders if she can handle the situation. When did this doubtful, hesitant, second-guessing woman take over and what did she do with the real me? And since I’m not going to pass this horse down the line I’d better conjure up some patience along with that confidence because if I don’t, it’s going to be a long row to hoe!
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