It's so hard to take six months and condense it to a few paragraphs. I'm sure I will find holes the size of Texas in my story when I go back, but I really want to be able to document this process in a positive, forward thinking way and I think the best way to do that is to quickly get to RIGHT NOW.
So, let me just say that as of this week I have Trainer #1 putting the last 30 days on her. If I decide to sell the Princess, Trainer #1 will do the marketing and the selling for me. Trainer #1 is a gifted, fearless rider who isn't phased at all by the Princess' spooks or her hind end. So Trainer #1 was able to give the Princess a good foundation to work from. Where we stalled was that Trainer #1 had no concept of fear. This is a woman who wants to jump out of airplanes for an adrenaline rush. That's the same rush I get when I put the saddle on and I'm standing in the aisle way contemplating riding. We just weren't able to find a way for her to give me some of her bravado.
So, enter Trainer #2. I've had one lesson with Trainer #2 and feel very hopeful. She has experience with anxiety around horses and offered me some really basic but somehow overlooked ideas. Ideas such as: lunge the Princess and if she's feisty, keep lunging her until you see a horse on the end of the lunge line that you would feel okay about getting on. If that takes two minutes, you only lunge two minutes. If it takes twenty minutes, so be it. If you lunge for thirty minutes and you can't get your heart rate down and the pony is still being crazy, it's okay to just lunge.
Simple, right? And yet it didn't occur to me that I could do that.
Trainer #2 also talked to me about the delicate balance of pushing the boundaries of the fear but maintaining control and calm. So if there's a spooky end of the arena, don't go there. Ride only in the non spooky part until you feel like you are calm and having a good ride. Then go one extra step towards the spooky part. Not ten extra steps, one. She also reminded me to quit while I was ahead, especially in these early stages where I'm trying to get my confidence back.
At the end of an hour and a half session, the Princess was sweaty from a good romp on the lunge and we managed a good twenty minute walk with only two small spooks. But we glowed together. Trainer #2 is confident that I can work this out with this horse and her confidence spills onto me and Friday was the first time I felt like I had a pony of my own and that maybe we would get through this after all.