What do I do now?
Okay so, I just recently started riding horses again. I started riding lessons when I was 6, and I took lessons for 5 years riding western. I stopped taking lessons when I got my third horse, and that's when all the problems began.
Originally, we were going to look at a horse for my cousin, but when we got to the seller's house, he had another horse tied up and I absolutely fell in love with him. Looking back, I realize that neither me or my cousin should have gotten those horses. I was 11 at the time, and I just recently realized that my horse, Tiger, was probably drugged when we went over to look at him. The reason why I think so is that he's a pretty alert horse, and if you walk up to him he'll interact with you, he's not a dead head or anything like that. But I remember that he was pretty much sleeping when I went up to him, he didn't really sniff me or act curious or anything. My family doesn't know anything about horses, and I should've had someone with me that knew what they were doing, but I wasn't the one that was supposed to get a horse that day so I guess that's why. The seller told us that he would make a great kid's horse, and that he was used as a roping horse at a ranch in Oklahoma and that he had no quirks or vices except that he would get nervous if someone approached him wearing a black cowboy hat. Anyways, we went back a couple days later so I could ride Tiger and decide if I wanted him for sure. What I remember about that was that again, he was very calm, almost sleepy. So of course, we bought him.
I don't remember why, but I remember that right off the bat I didn't want to lope him when we got him home, we don't have an arena, just a pasture. I can't remember any big problems I had with him until I decided I wanted to barrel race with him. So we took him to the "trainer" that was training my cousin's horse. The first day we took Tiger she told us that she didn't like him, that she could see the whites of his eyes and that meant he was crazy. Well, I didn't really take that to heart because honestly, I was kind of offended. The trainer's husband hated my cousin's horse because he was a paint, which should've been enough of a reason to find a different trainer, but we were all naive, and kept them there. I don't remember how long Tiger was at the trainer's but when we got him back, he had become very spooky and nervous. That was when he started giving me problems when I would try to bridle him. Tiger is 15.2 hands, and i'm 5'1, and I was probably under 5 foot at the time, so he didn't have to raise his head very high in order for me to not be able to reach him. Every single time I would go to bridle him it was a battle, I would eventually get him bridled, but I would have to work at it. He was really bad about balking and pulling back while I was trying to get his bridle on, and he dented our fence, broke a halter and a bridle in the 5 years that I was riding him.
Anyways, after we got him back from the first trainer, i'd had him for 2 years, and I was 13. That was when my old riding instructor introduced us to Lucy, who was her farrier and also a trainer. All I can say is, if it hadn't been for her, I probably would've quit riding long before I did. She helped me get Tiger back to where he was before, and she started teaching me how to barrel race. (At this point, we were boarding him at a barn with an arena, so I wasn't riding him in our pasture at this point.) When we had been practicing for a while, she invited me to the play days that she and her daughter went to, because her daughter had just started barrel racing too. At the first play day, I only signed up for the barrel racing event, because I wanted Tiger to get used to every thing. He acted perfect up until we got into the arena, the minute I went for the first barrel(the right one) he turned left and tried to run of a gate that was open on the left side of the arena, but I managed to get him to go towards that first barrel, and we finished the event. (Tiger isn't a barrel racer, I just wanted to do it for fun, I wasn't trying to compete or anything, so we weren't going very fast) After the event, Tiger was a whole different horse. The sun had gone down, and he became really antsy, and spooky. I couldn't get him to stand still. Lucy didn't really know what was going on, and I guess she thought that maybe if we brought him back a couple more times that he would calm down. Well, the second time I brought him I didn't enter him in anything, but after the sun went down he started acting silly again. After that, I took him one more time. I remember, the sun hadn't gone down yet, and I was walking him in a circle when he started putting his head down, and all of a sudden, I was on the ground and he was trotting away from me! He had laid down with me, and it was a miracle my leg didn't get caught under him, Lucy said one minute she saw me walking him, and the next time she looked I was on the ground and Tiger was running away. So, needless to say, I quit taking him to play days after that. For the next year I rode him in the arena, with Lucy and her daughter, and just worked on getting him ready to take back home.
When I got him home, he immediately started acting different, he went back to the way he was before, giving me problems bridling him, trying to buck me off, etc. So, I rode on and off for the next 2 years, and it seemed like even when I did ride him a lot, it didn't get any easier. It was always a battle and it wasn't fun for me anymore, and I have loved horses my whole life, and i've never had trouble with horses until I got Tiger. It just became really hard, and I've always felt ashamed of the fact that I quit riding. I felt like I couldn't go talk to Lucy about it, and I've never had very many friends who actually ride horses, so I just kind of tried to forget. Two years ago, when I was 16, I had a random spurt of inspiration, I thought to myself, "this time it'll be different, I'm older and more patient and mature." (i've had a couple of these incidents) He probably hadn't been ridden in a year, but I still went out and fed him and interacted with him, so I figured he wouldn't be too spooky. Up to this point, I had tried and tried and tried to "fix" him. I don't know how to explain it, I'm not good with words really, but I just wanted him to be my perfect horse, one that I could do anything with and one I wasn't scared of. Because even though I was scared of him, I loved him to death, and I still do. Anyways, I started getting ready to go, and I was trying to calm myself down. Because by then, I was scared of him, and bridling him had always been difficult. In all of my years with horses, I had never gotten nervous around them or been scared of them, but all of my years with Tiger has made me that way. But i'm getting off track, I went out to saddle and bridle him, I always saddled him first. So, after I got him saddled, I went for the bridle. It was a miracle, he kept his head reasonably close to me, and he let me put it on him. I was shocked, I had a hold of the throat latch and was going to buckle it when he spooked, he balked, and when he did I still had the throat latch in my hand (not buckled yet) and it snapped off. That bridle was old, it was my first bridle, and I was a little upset about the fact that it broke. So, I calmed him down, or tried to. Because at this point, I'm nervous, and he's nervous. But I was determined to work with him. I had decided not to ride him that day, I just wanted to take it slow, so I pulled the rest of the broken throat latch out of the bridle, made sure his tack was all correct, and began walking him out to one of the smaller sections of our pasture. Once I got him out there, we were both relatively calm, and I began doing some ground work with him that Lucy had taught me, like disengaging the hindquarters. So, while I was doing this, he spooked, and bolted towards me and stepped on one of my feet, which didn't hurt, but it scared me. These kind of events were pretty normal, Tiger would do something like try to buck me off, or bolt, or run me under trees to try to get to his barn, and I would get upset and want to get off. But I knew that quitting now would just show him that acting like that would get him nowhere. So, I kept trying to disengage his hindquarters, and he did it again, except this time he clipped my shoulder with his shoulder and almost knocked me down. Which was pretty scary because I was afraid that he was going to run over me. That was the last straw, I've never been the emotional type, but Tiger is fantastic at getting me upset because I feel like i've been betrayed by my best friend. I told myself that was it, I was done trying to "fix" him. That was the last time I tried to ride him, I sold my saddle, and focused on my last two years of high school.
Now, i'm 18, just graduated, and I have a job with a lady who shows cutting horses! She has two geldings that she doesn't have a lot of time for, but she wants to keep because they're her pleasure horses, so I ride them for her. I never thought that I would get an opportunity like this, but a friend of mine introduced me to Maggie, and I started riding her horses for her. I was really nervous my first day, I hadn't ridden in two years, and I made sure that she knew that, but honestly, my friend had told Maggie about me as a person, and not as a rider, and I guess she just liked my character, and the ability part wasn't a huge deal. Although, she did watch me my first day and watched how I handled her two horses. I have to admit, I had forgotten a lot of stuff, and I took it pretty slow for the first couple of days. But, what I do with them isn't very strenuous, I just ride them for probably around thirty minutes each, mostly trotting and then some loping, but it's a pretty good workout for them since they're out of shape. Anyways, that's were I am now. Honestly, every time I put a bridle on one of those horses, it shocks me that they put their heads down and let me. They're completely different from Tiger, I'm not scared of them and I'm actually having fun with them. I've been doing this for about a month now and I love it, more than I thought I would. I keep expecting to feel that resistance, that feeling that I don't want to ride anymore, but it hasn't come. I mean, even though I just ride two or three times a week, I find myself looking forward to the next time I get to ride. I know that's how it should be, but I still have a problem: Tiger. He's 18, like me, and I want to sell him, but I don't feel like I can. He's older, and he's not really a kid's horse. He would need an experienced rider, and also, we paid too much for him, so I would have to probably cut the price we bought him for in half. But money isn't the issue, I don't care about that part. My problem is is that, I don't want to let him go. Even though i don't ride him, I feel like no one would want to buy him. I've tried to sell him three times, and a couple people have come to look at him, and some have ridden him and liked him, but it never worked out. I just feel like I need to let him go, but I don't want to. I'm not looking for another horse or anything, because I don't think my grandparents would let me get another horse until I have my own place to keep one, but Tiger is just sitting in our pasture, and when I do go out and see him, he is the sweetest thing in the world. It's frustrating, because I wish he acted like that when I ride him.
I don't really know what the point of this post was, I guess to just get out all of the hurt i've felt for the past 7 years. It sounds kind of ridiculous, feeling this way over a horse, but I feel like we kind of broke each other. I wish I hadn't gone with my cousin that day to look at her horse, because I would've never seen Tiger and I would probably have found a better horse, and I would've never stopped riding. But then, maybe I would have stopped anyways. But now that i've started again, I don't want to ever stop riding again. I'm just so afraid that I will. I guess I just don't know where to go from here. Here I am with a job riding horses that I love, and I don't even ride my own horse or own my own saddle. I just feel a little lost right now. I do want to say, that I'm aware that all the problems I had with Tiger were not his fault, it was the result of the way I tried to handle it, and the way other people treated him, and I believe that the first trainer we took him to hit him, because I never mistreated him or hit him except the occasional pop on the nose for trying to bite me or rub his head on me. Also, i've always been a pretty logical thinker, and I don't usually get upset over things, but Tiger always seems to do the trick. Sorry about the long story, if you've made it this far thank you for reading about my problem! :) I guess I just want opinions about the whole thing, but please try to keep it positive. :) Thank you!