Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bits and Pieces

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.


  1. "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." Yay!

    Our first year together, Gem tested me all the time. I was very nervous and frustrated....and I still get that way if we start doing things outside my comfort zone. The biggest thing I have learned is being patient, not only with him but with myself. It will come. :-)

  2. Thanks for following me!

    I can understand your fear issues, we all have to face them at one point or another in our horsemanship journey.

    Always set yourself up to succeed. So if that means avoiding a situation that you know can/ will go badly, do it. I try to only pick fights I know I can win, which in some instances can be bad, but in the long run you save yourself a lot of issues. Perhaps it's cheating a little, but personally, I like to think of it as leaning the odds in my favor.

  3. Excellent news, Panic. You'll have more rides like this one, I think, but remember not to take it too hard when you have the next crappy moment with the Princess, either. Finding level is one of the tools I've learned to use to pace myself between the highs and lows. I can hamster-wheel at the roller-coaster of it all, and I've come a long way toward stopping that in myself, talking the good moments for what they are and not taking the setbacks too hard.

  4. I've totally been where you are with the fear issues. My horse TOTALLY had my number this last winter and did everything he could to get out of work (you can see it all in my blog). It sounds like Princess totally has your number too.

    It took a lot of lunge lessons, some tough love from my instructor and me finally just getting tired of it and getting aggressive. My trainer also taught me how to redirect his attention when I could feel he was going to spook so I could prevent it. I hope this is what trainer #2 is going to do for you, too.

    How is your seat? It'll help you sit those spooks if your seat is good, so if it's not up to snuff, maybe your trainer can give you some lunge lessons to help it?

    But honestly, if you're not having fun with your horse when you ride, or even just interact, I would say it's time to sell. It's a difficult decision, but there are so many nice, sane horses out there you could be having a ball with. But I know it's easier said than done.

  5. Steph-

    I'm glad to hear that you made it through! I'm hoping for the same. I've given myself another six months and working with a different trainer to see if it makes a difference. If I'm still at the same fear level in six months then we're not a good fit for sure.