Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Not enough sleep last night coupled with nightmares that woke me up over and over means I have been tired and out of sorts all day.  But today is a barn day so I made myself get out there.  It's dark and gloomy out today and my barn doesn't turn on the arena lights during the day.  Which means that you're riding the gloom of an indoor arena with only two open spaces on each side.  Also, because horses have a hard time switching from dark to light, this means that every.single.time anything happens outside the two light spaces, my pony spooked.  One minute she's on the bit, listening to me, marching forward and the next minute she's got her head in the air and we're galloping (okay, we galloped for three strides) away.  So then my adrenaline is up and I'm clenching and fighting off tears.  I'm tired and I just want to go home and have some hot chocolate and take a bath.  But I know I'm supposed to work through this stuff so I soldier on.  We try trotting, which leads to her head creatively flung in the air making circles with her nose while she pretends to pop into canter.  So I try to push her into canter to show her I'm in charge, which leads to me leaning forward and flapping my arms like a chicken and the pony just slinging her head around swishing her tail.  So I tap her with my whip.  Tail swish.  Tap her again and she bucks, which makes me lean forward and feel like crying again.

We went back to walk and did some walk/trot transitions.  They weren't bad.  They weren't good.  Slump shouldered and depressed, I brushed her off (in the dark aisle way because the barn owner's don't want to turn those on either unless it's *actually* dark out), put her blanket back on and left.

I have learned a few things today.  One is that when I haven't had enough sleep, I am wrecked.  Facing fear is not something to try when you are missing sleep.  And I need to realize that's what I'm doing every time I go to the barn; I'm facing my fear.  Two is that not only do I need to not expect to move forward, but I need to expect that sometimes I will move distinctly and painfully backward and that's just part of it.

Still - there's that question for me.  The question of spending $1,000 a month on something that is this hard.  Maybe I'm trying to live up to the rider I used to be.  Maybe this horse was the horse for the rider I used to be.  I know I said yesterday that I could be patient, but days like this make it hard.  I'm going to go have a bath and some hot chocolate and probably a good cry.  My lesson is on Thursday so I'm hoping the pendulum swings back the other way.

p.s. I swear I'm not this pessimistic or whiny in my real life.  Besides my questionable horse decisions, the rest of my life is pretty kick-ass.

p.p.s.  Days like this are also the kind of days where I think I should switch barns or send the pony to a trainer who will just put miles on her.  If I knew of someone that was far away but not too expensive I think I would do that for the winter.  Give her some 'real life' education to help her cope with things.



  1. I'd work on finding something - no matter how small - that you and she can do successfully together, every time, no matter what else is wrong. Something like doing a serpentine made out of 20-meter circles, and using the circles, too - and at the walk only for now. This would allow you, and the pony, to have success - and believe me, there's a lot to work on at the walk with these serpentines and circles. Then, when you're doing other things, if you or the pony start having trouble with something, you go back to your serpentine and circles at the walk to regroup - it becomes a "safe place" for both of you. I've found this works wonders with nervous/uptight horses, and I bet it'd help you too.

    Also, remember that if a particular movement/exercise isn't working at the walk, it isn't going to work at a faster gait - the basics have to be firmly established at the walk before anything else will work. Sounds like pony has a lot to learn and maybe doesn't understand too well what she's supposed to be doing . . .

  2. While I don't have an Arab, my daughter (who is a working student at a dressage barn) is currently working with one under a trainer. From talking with her, I know how different they are to work with and ride. My daughter said you can not force anything with the Arab she rides, she used the phrase 'you can't chase her into a move', she said she has to ask, then wait for the correct response.

    Although my daughter complained in the beginning about riding this Arab, she has learned so much!

    Hang in there - keep accepting small successes -the rewards are going to happen.