After lunging Carmen on Tuesday I rode her Wednesday. I won't go into the details- it was windy, she was spooky, I rode through it and was feeling triumphant.
Today it all came crashing down. I spent my time with the ground work and it went very well. She was obedient, prompt and totally tuned in. I swear. When I got on it all went to hell. She was completely freaked out over the leaves and grass blowing in the wind. I could do nothing. And I really tried.
I was getting to a place where my responses were becoming based on emotion and not any sort of training knowledge. I stopped and dismounted with tears in my eyes. I walked her down to the barn. She tried to scoot by me and I made her back up. In the barn I untacked her turned her out. She stopped and looked at me and then headed out to her field.
I then picked up the phone and called the show secretary scratching from the show. I went into the house and started cleaning like my life depended on it. Ed came home and he was in a rush because I he had a golf game and we needed to go to the garage and pick up our daughter's car. On the drive he asked me how my ride was.
I scratched from the show.
What? Why? What happened?
I don't want to talk about it.
I started to cry and he pulled over.Talk to me.
And it all came spilling out.
How can I take her to a show when I can't get her to listen to me? When the wind is blowing she will NOT focus on me. I've put in fucking hours and hours. I've worked, taken lessons, worked some more and we're still at the same fucking place we were last year. I'm done. I want to show. I want to ride and not worry that I'll be dumped. I want to have some fun AND I WANT STEELE BACK. I'm tired of mourning him and my mother and dealing with shit.
At which point I became a bit incoherent. God love him, he sat there and listened. I took a deep breath. I'm taking the money I would spend on the show and I'm going to spend it on Royce working with her. (Royce was the trainer who helped me back Steele (http://journeywithadancinghorse.blogspot.ca/2014/04/steeles-first-time.html).
And if that doesn't work I'm going to sell her.
Okay he said.
Yes I said that.
I'm sitting her feeling sorry for myself. I'm not afraid of work. And I'm not afraid of risking my neck. But I need to see progress. Otherwise I am just wasting my time. I'm 52 years old and I don't have a lot of riding years ahead. I do not want a horse that I can only ride if the world is perfect.
Those days can be some of the worst experiences in an equestrian's life. I can't count on my fingers how many times I've had that conversation with a loved one. It's so discouraging when you have worked and worked and just cannot seem to get anywhere. You had to make a tough decision, but I think it was a good one. I hope that Royce can help you and Carmen through this tough place. You are in my thoughts and prayers!ReplyDelete
Your whining is justified (wish I had your email so I could talk to you offline; mine is aspenmeadowsa at gmail.com). I don't think she is ready to show and if you had gone, and the experience had been not-so-good, it would not have helped her confidence. The thing I'm thinking is that you have a very talented, ambitious (my trainer's name for a sensitive reactive mare) horse. That gives her incredible sparkle and will I think, eventually, make her a favorite with judges. But it also takes a lot more time and training and consistent riding (like you've been doing) than the more level-headed steeds require. I know it feels like it right now, but you have actually come a long way from where you were last year. And she isn't mean, or unwilling to try. Don't give up on her yet. (I also understand the bit about being 52 and feeling like you are running out of time). Also, something to think about - I reached a place with Lucy where I realized that I wanted to show because I wanted feedback and to progress; not because I cared about ribbons or medals. So, taking Lucy somewhere where she was very likely to be a hot mess didn't make sense. I spent the money instead on intensive week-end clinics and starting doing InterDressage competitions. You should show if you love it (I never did) of course; but there are options if want them. You can train your mare to FEI without going to shows... (cuz there is no doubt in my mind that she can get there). Enough of my rant.ReplyDelete
I know exactly 100% how you feel. I was this way just a few weeks back. It is so amazingly frustrating when you're putting all of your money, time, and risking your health (because riding is inherently more dangerous than a lot of things) and you feel like you're getting nowhere. I can only assume it's even worse at your age.ReplyDelete
What you're proposing is exactly what I wanted to do with Fiction - put 30 days of training on him, reevaluate, and then sell if needed. I think this is a very good path too take. It will give you piece of mind that you tried everything to get it to work.
I wish you the best. If you need someone to talk to, I'm here. I know what you're going through. It can be a very stressful thing :(
Thank you! I thought of you when I was posting. I know you understand.Delete
I get it and my thoughts are with you! I know that age factor and how it changes our perspective - I just turned 50. The little Welsh Cob we bought as a companion for my mare has opened my eyes to having fun on a horse - the yes, this is how it is supposed to be, feeling.ReplyDelete
Do not think you have failed - you are going to make the best decision for you!
Oh Teresa, I am so sorry you are going through this.ReplyDelete
I know how discouraging it can feel to put hours and hours in, and not feel like you are making progress.
I think calling the trainer for help is a great idea. Hopefully that turns things around.
If it doesn't, you are completely justified in going in a different direction. I am firmly in the 'riding should be fun and rewarding' camp. Life is too short. Yes, the occasional bad ride is to be expected. But if the majority of your rides are ending in frustration and disappointment, it is time to re-evaluate.
Thank you for your kind words. they mean a lotDelete
Feel free to PM me!ReplyDelete
Oh dear, you sound so much like me and my mare. Scratched shows, balled my eyes out, can't progress, watched everyone around me climb the level ladder but me and it only got worse.ReplyDelete
I loved the ground work with her, she loved it too, but being on her back was something else. I've continually taken lessons in the six years I've had this mare, and looking back all the money I wasted in just trying to get a few moments of nice work out of her versus the fifty minutes of fighting.
I put my mare up for sale a couple of winters ago, I was done and under my trainers blessings (I don't easily give up), I just hoped someone would come along who would be a better partner than me. I guess I didn't really want to give in because I was little too picky who could buy her and I put huge clauses in the buying contract. LOL
Then it dawned on me, whenever I took her off her raspberry leaves and Chaste berry she was even worse, so it had to be hormonal.
I talked with my vet about spaying her, he suggested to try her on Reg U Mate before I made that drastic decision.
Long story short, the Reg u mate worked, I suddenly had a beautiful willing horse to ride so I scheduled an appointment to get her ovaries removed. She was out of commission for two weeks and now I have my dream horse.
Perhaps you can look into that, I feel your pain, you could be describing me and my mare instead of yourself.
We do what is best for our horses. All the best AND GOOD LUCK!!
I hadn't thought of regumate. that might be worth a try.Delete
I'm sorry. It sounds like you have an excellent plan. It stinks getting to that point, but I found once I was there looking at options was quite freeing - there's a lot to be said for continuing to work because you've decided you want to, not because you feel like you have to! Hoping for some happier rides coming your way soon.ReplyDelete
thank you! I really do not want to sell her. Truly. I just want to get past thisDelete
It doesn't sounds like you're whining to me, just that you had an understandably tough day. I am also in the riding should be fun group and in particular I know that I can't personally handle a spooky horse. I've had them in the past and won't again. It's like my Achilles heel. I can be confident and have fun with just about anything else but I can't handle that so I feel your frustration.ReplyDelete
Thanks. I would much prefer a horse that was more dominantDelete
I'm not going to say I'm sorry because they're really empty words. Nor will I say to be patient because it'll get better. We don't know if it will, we can only hope. What I will do is offer you a virtual hug. It sounds like you could use one.ReplyDelete
Having had experience with several strong-willed Iberian mares, I feel your pain! Hopefully you have a breakthrough soon -- I've been following your blog since you bought Carmen (I'm FB friends with her breeder) and reading about your journey was one of my inspirations to start my own blog.ReplyDelete
Wow, thank you for that. I'm hoping that I can get a breakthroughDelete
My blog is www.dressagebarbie.com -- on FB I'm Leah Strid. I could tell you some really hairy stories about one of my Iberian mares and our ulcer journey -- we did eventually overcome the problems but it took a LONG time (and some really ugly dressage tests -- like four under 50% dressage tests and getting bucked off in my first clinic). I see above someone mentioned Regumate -- I would definitely talk to your vet. It's possible medication could make a huge difference. I went from a bucking, bolting monster mare to a willing partner after 10 days on ulcer meds (not saying that's your problem, but still). Worth exploring! I would hate to see you and Carmen part, but at the same time, I understand wanting a horse you can RIDE.Delete
I remember struggling with an anxious horse, leading it up a trail, and another horseback rider coming along and telling me, "They tend to calm down if you get on their back, you know."ReplyDelete
That comment has always baffled me. I've never had a horse that was calmer with me in the saddle than leading it. It's frustrating seeing how much your horse knows during ground work, but then everything falls apart once you climb on. It would be nice to have a better understanding of horse psychology under those circumstances.
It sounds like you've plateaued and know it's time for a change. I hope that the positive change you need comes soon. Hugs.
Thank you! I agree with the on the back thing.Delete
Oh no, I'm sorry it's going so poorly right now. I really hope you can get it back on track, but I will certainly not blame you if you move on. Riding should be fun, not a battle. I know some people like the challenge, and I like some challenge, but there has to be some enjoyment and some reward and some progress or it's just not worth doing.ReplyDelete
I've been there with Nilla. There have been times where I've been seriously tempted to sell her. But she always has some redeeming feature that saves me from doing so. I think a big part of that is that we do so many activities. So when dressage is sucking (like right now with the rearing) I do jumping and trail riding. Switching it up keeps us both sane. I don't know with Carmen being so nervous that she'd be fun on the trails either, but maybe try doing some western or if she can do trails, do some trails. Do something different and see if that helps you enjoy being on her more.
I'll also say that horses that a good trail horse will sleep through an arena session. I've had deer and dogs run through our arena and Nilla doesn't spook. Getting out on the trails might help Carmen desensitize to stray breezes and leaves and other nonsense in the arena.
This works for me and it's just my 2 cents. I still think you should do the trainer and I think you should do whatever works for you, but variety helps me and Nilla. I just don't want you to think I'm trying to tell you what to do because I'totally not. Just pitching in a few ideas. I have faith in you; you'll do what's right.
Thanks. I would love to do some trails with her but I just don't feel safe and they are not wide enough to stay out of trouble if she freaks. My plan this year was to carve some of my own out of the woods and I will still do that.Delete
I'm sorry you're experiencing this. The comment above about regumate was very interesting to me, too. Leah is the first mare I've ridden and trained and she is very different from my geldings. As you know, we have good and bad days, too. I'm thinking a lot of it may be hormones. When you took her to that clinic, didn't you say she was paying attention to the males? I know my mares are in heat and acting goofy. I used to have a rule of thumb, geldings only, but I broke that rule. :( As for the lessons, you cannot go wrong with that plan. The lessons I take with Leah are a saving grace and I enjoy her so much more when the trainer is with us. Your path will be clear soon enough, Teresa. Part of fixing the problem is being honest.ReplyDelete
Every time I read your blog I think wow that horse is not easy. But you have a support system that you've fully engaged, so I think you'll overcome. Is there one or more things you feel you need to succeed, that you cannot get? Or is everything in place?ReplyDelete
It is very freeing to realize that giving up on a horse doesn't make you a loser, it makes you reasonable. I hated going through that, but glad it was "only" 2.5 years. You might remember, but if not, my decision was made easier by 1. my family telling me to sell her and 2. a friend rode her and said, "There is something wrong in her head." (Something that no amount of training would change.) OH, and 3. no bond.
But Carmen's not like that, I don't think. She's not a freak, just sensitive, and she's bonded with you. I was impressed by how good she was at the clinic.
Interesting, I don't see this post as whining. Did you notice how your honesty brought out more honesty from your readers? Maybe because of you we'll all be more honest when we blog about our horse lives. I'll definitely try.
Thank you Lytha. No she is not easy. I'm okay with that, I think I needed her to be not easy. One promise I made was that I would not lie on this blog. I might not write about everything but I won't write something that I don't believe.Delete
Oh gosh, so sorry Teresa. Sometimes it all crashes down at once, but with it comes a bit of clarity. Good luck with whatever comes next. I totally understand that feeling of putting every ounce of myself in and getting nowhere. When I finally decided to 'give up', it opened up the door for something so positive. I enjoy riding again and really that is all it ever was about for me.ReplyDelete
Of course Carmen will be awesome with hard work, a strong partnership with her rider and a heck of a lot of time, but if you feel like that is not the journey meant for you right now, you have to trust yourself.
Thank you for that.Delete
I totally understand this frustration, it comes with the lows of riding and some of the highs are oh so high. It sounds like you have ideas and plans and you should be able to work through it and feel like you have made the correct decisions whatever those end up being. Big hugs.ReplyDelete
A hug is always welcome.Delete
Been there. I'm 64, so you still have a lot of riding ahead. Grief though, it just gets you at the weirdest times.ReplyDelete