Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Perfect Partner

Why is it that we are expected to find the perfect horse partner right away?  I'm not talking about how long you 'look' at horses to buy, I'm talking about after you buy them.  It seems to me that the horse world has decided that once you pick out the horse, unless there is something catastrophically wrong with it, that you stick with that horse.

If I had done this with boyfriends, I would be the most unhappily married person ever.  However, I find myself thinking that with horses.

Here's the thing.  I like Licorice.  He likes me.  But he's more sensitive guy than stalwart companion.  If I'm anxious, Licorice is anxious.  And now that we're outside our comfort zone, I'm definitely anxious.  And so Licorice is more anxious.

Yet when I think of selling him, I think about being a failure and having had two horses in the last five years.  And then I think I'm just going to keep buying horses and ingraining them with my anxiety and no matter what horse I get, I will make them a hot mess. my heart of hearts, I know that's not true.  I know that I can find a teacher in a horse who will tolerate or ignore my anxiety without escalating.

It feels very depressing right now because I don't want 'give up', but I'm not having fun.  I force myself to go out and to ride and at the end of a ride I do feel successful and happy but I have to give myself a pep talk EVERY TIME.

I actually got a Groupon for a Western barn (gasp!  the Dark Side!  Yes!) and went and took a lesson there this morning.  The trainer said "You are a beautiful rider.  No matter what discipline you choose, you'll be successful.  Your body position is great."

I told her I had confidence issues and she shrugged and said "We have quiet horses.  We have horses for lease if you wanted to lease one for a while.  These are pleasure bred Quarter Horses and they're meant to be quiet."

Sure enough, my little pleasure mare I rode on was quiet.  And despite being a new horse, in a new arena in Western tack, I had no anxiety.  None at all.  Hmmmm.  Thinking.  Thinking.   Thinking.

So, that's where I'm really at and it sucks.  It sucks to waffle and hem and haw and to feel overwhelmingly guilty and stupid and to re-hash every moment.  I'm trying hard not to do that to myself but to simply decide to move forward and see what happens.  And I'm totally going back and taking another Western riding lesson on a dead quiet horse.


  1. You are absolutely not a failure! I've seen people go through the 4-5 horses in a year, you've given both of yours a lot of time and effort and if it isn't the right partnership it cannot be forced. I think the idea of a lease is great, you can test out a few different horses without the commitment of ownership and get a better idea of what exactly you want and need. Also, I think perhaps gettin involved in western riding is a great idea! I find that western barns tend to a little more low key and interdisciplinary which is nice when you are exploring.

  2. Not a failure. Sometimes it takes a while to understand what you want and need. This is an expensive hobby and it's got to be fun!

  3. It's driving me crazy that I can't remember where I read this, but I recently found an article about a really successful eventer and how he bought and sold horses all the time until he found ones with the right traits. Made me think about other horse owners and trainers I know and sure enough--I could think of plenty who went through a dozen horses before they found the right fit. Not a bad thing!

    I've totally been there too, though, with spending too much time on a bad match (both with horses and past boyfriends, ha!). A big part of it on the horse side was I would look around and see other boarders having adventures, going to shows and generally being awesome with their horses, and I wondered what the heck was wrong with me that I couldn't do those things too. I feel your pain! But what got me over it was trying something completely new (foxhunting) so I'm happy you're enjoying the Western lessons!

  4. There are quiet horses out there that could make you more confident. They do exist. You might have to look a little harder (or like me, one will find you), but they ARE out there...I swear.

    But yeah, the realm of Paints and QH might not be a bad idea...

  5. I have leased 3 horses in 3.5 yrs,,, and it has taught me so much. It's a great way to develop your sense of horsemanship/ explore the different possibilities. Why don't you lease your horse out while you work on problem areas with a quiet horse& trainer.

  6. You need to figure out what you need and get it - that may or may not include a different horse. If you have confidence issues - many of us have those, including me in certain circumstances - you will improve if you have competent professional assistance, both in training your horse - whatever horse you have - and in training you and your horse together. And there's a lot of incompetent so-called professional assistance out there . . .

    After my serious accident on Pie in 2011, I got professional help with both Red and Pie - to get me back on track - working with a student of Mark Rashid's for several months - she worked with my horses and I also rode them twice a week under her supervision. It was intense, but that's sometimes what it takes. My skills are much better now, and I have the ability to ride all of my horses effectively - that doesn't mean they're all suitable for every riding situation - both Red and Dawn are very hot horses, and not suitable for the trail (with me, at least not yet). It isn't just a matter of finding a calm horse - even most calm horses (unless they're elderly and checked out) can come unglued under the right circumstances and you have to learn how to cope.

    This plan may or may not include your present horse, but time will tell.

    Good luck!

  7. I actually have the perfect horse for you - my boarders horse. If you wanted a free lease - you could take her. :). Anxiety and fear is one thing I don't think trying to work through is worth it if it's trigger by a specific horse. There are lots of horses out there.

  8. Do what makes you happy! As others said, way too expensive and time consuming of a lifestyle to not love the horse you are riding.

  9. It sucks...but when I rode those quiet AQHAs, I absolutely fell in love. You know I'm an Arabian girl at heart--I love them, and it's not a breed issue, REALLY. Each horse is different in personality and reactiveness. But those quarter horses. There's something about them. Level headed, quiet, and broke even when they're not trained. And they're working horses. Plum won me over. I think lessons on some nice, quiet, well broke out horses can only do a person good.

    I'm also an English-to-Western "convert". I love it all...but I find I get a close contact, good ride out of my well balanced Western saddles--at least as good a ride as I got in my cc and jumping saddles. And yep, you can post in them just fine!

    Give yourself a break to work on you without anxiety. And some of those push button horses can really be a blast to ride :)