Monday, January 19, 2015

Things I Am Learning

Oooh, this learning curve is a steep one.  And though I'm still at the part of the curve where my cart is chugging up the tracks of the steep hill, I think I can maybe see the top and am looking forward to the whoosh of the wind as we fly down the other side.

Things I have learned from my new experience moving barns:

1.  I miss people.  All the people.  All the horses.  I like to have some room to ride, but I don't like to be completely alone.  

2.  Licorice misses having more horses around.  He has never been more insecure than he is now.  We ride by ourselves every time and neither one of us likes it much.  I don't mind riding in the arena alone, but I like it when I know there's someone nearby.

3.  I love riding outside.  I don't mind riding in rain.  The weather here is wet, but not nasty cold most of the time.

4.  I really want a Western Saddle but have no idea how to fit one and the videos on the internet don't  help me much.  I also want one that puts my leg in a good position.  I'm a little obsessed with Western Riding right now.

5.  I don't know how to tell if a horse is sound.  This is really frustrating because currently I have someone telling me that she thinks my horse may never be able to be ridden much because he has deep unsoundness issues.  The last vet lameness exam was three months ago and they didn't find anything scary, just some minor stiffness in the right hind which we injected.  X-rays were inconclusive.  Licorice does have a back leg that locks up occasionally, shitty conformation and some age related stiffness.  I need to find a starting place without tearing him apart.  I'm worried that we will get too detailed.  You know, like when you go to the chiropractor and he tells you that one leg is shorter than the other and your shoulders are twisted and your head isn't on straight.  This is all absolutely true, but still I manage to survive and even thrive.  I think we all have some issues.  On the other hand, I don't want to ask my horse to do things he physically cannot do.

6.  I need to do this myself.  This whole thing.  I've really been looking for someone else to guide me through this experience and give me courage and knowledge.  Instead, I need to be the one who steps up and makes mistakes.  I need to ride, even if I'm afraid.  And if that means I ride at the walk for a minute, that's okay.  I can push myself every day a tiny bit farther.  But there's no replacing experience.  I have been involved with horses for a solid ten years and am an avid learner.  Somehow, I have let my anxiousness and fear get in the way of that.  I am now making choices to do it myself, even if it means I fail.  The only way for Licorice and I to develop better trust in each other, is to start doing it without supervision, without help, without guidance.  

Some people need lessons and programs.  I LOVE lessons and programs.  But there comes a time where you have to just let yourself BE and that's where I'm at.  I want to just let myself BE.  And when I am solid about where I'm at, I'll know what I want to do with my horse.  I just have to be willing to take that step.  And so I am.


  1. I STRONGLY disagree with 6. Fear cripples even good riders and fear is never overcome by ourselves. You sound like you want to back away from lessons because you don't want to fail, or to be pushed, or to have to recognize that you need help. You don't need to fail. There is NO way you will ever develop confidence and trust in each other without help.

    You need a qualified person who has experience dealing with fear issues in riders. You need someone who can build your confidence, push you without you realizing it, and help you gain experience in the saddle.

    You don't have to take lessons. You don't have to ride. You don't have to do more than walk around for 5 minutes. The question is, what do YOU want? Do you want more? Do you want to develop the mental skills to handle situations where you feel you might fail? Don't try to convince yourself that you want something you don't want.

  2. I used to drive to lessons feeling like I was going to throw up. I'd get physically nauseous. I kept going because I'd enter those lessons dreading falling off, failing. But I'd leave every lesson looking back and what I'd done and going "Holy SHIT did I actually do that?" Because I found the right instructor for me.

  3. So many good thoughts! I really like trail riding in the wet coast rain and in my western saddle, best of luck finding a nice saddle for you both. I can appreciate what the above commenter is saying, because I've had good experiences being pushed that little bit past my fears in lessons. On the other hand I really do well when I'm on my own too - way less pressure and lots more time to get it done. I put more than enough pressure on myself so it's not like progress ceases - quite the opposite in fact :) Best of luck with everything, I really enjoy your updates!

  4. I mostly ride western and went through a tough saddle fit period with my horse. In look for information I found a book called The Western Horse's Pain Free Back and Saddle Fit book that has quite a lot of information in it about fitting a western saddle. I also had a saddle fitter come and check my saddles. One English and one Western. She was mostly an English rider and saddle fitter but had a basic idea of western saddles and was comfortable checking them. If you can I would just put as many western saddles on your horse as you can and just feel under them, where they put pressure and where they don't, things like that. It's all really too much information for a comment but hopefully this will get you started!

  5. I use to ride at a very busy barn with lots of lesson students and boarders, about 6-ish years ago I started paying for my own horse stuff and moved to a much smaller barn with only three other boarders. It was a bit of a culture shock! I have been boarding at small barns ever since, and I do really miss having people around. Current barn at least the BM is around quite a bit, but he doesn't ride.