All these years for nothing?
I'm feeling very discouraged.
My mom and I have literally spent years and years training our warmblood mare. It's never been easy, and it still isn't easy. Before we got her, she was trained very much more in the "rolkur" type methodology... the rider cranked her in, kicked her up, and rode her. This caused lameness and greatly increased her spookiness. Also, her conformation is far less than ideal for dressage. She has a long back, haunches that look too small for her body, and a bit of a pencil neck. We were somewhat naive when we got her, so we didn't realize that there were all of these problems.
So we have spent over 10 years doing whatever we can to improve these issues... and it has gotten better. She doesn't come up lame, she's not as spooky, etc. But at the end of the day, every ride is spent trying to rebalance her on that "tightrope". She will revert back to her extremely heavy on the forehand training in an instant, the very moment her rider is not vigilant.
A lady who fancies herself a classical dressage rider came out to try our mare out with the intention of potentially leasing her. She emailed me tonight saying that our mare's training was not "up to par" with her more "traditional" riding style. She basically implied that we must not be actually working with our mare on lightness and balance. For me, it just goes to show that we have poured our blood sweat and tears into training this mare only to be told at the end of it all that it hasn't really made any difference. She still rides like a horse that can't really collect and hold herself in a balanced frame. Other riders don't feel the outcome of any of the training we've tried so desperately to put in... it just seems to them that we must be "those" dressage riders who let their horse travel on the forehand and just crank their head in and kick up their hind legs a bit.
I can't bring myself to tell my mom what the lady said. She'll just feel like she somehow didn't do enough...
Stuff what the lady says. Some horses do not melt in people's hands right away. It takes time for them to really show them their all, especially if they've been treated roughly in the past.
Definitely not all for nothing, don't take her opinion into your hearts. You know this horse better than everyone and you should ALSO know that progress takes the right person. This lady wasn't it.
Your mare will shine, just keep working with her. Maybe she doesn't want to be a dressage girl. Maybe she just wants to be ridden without having to be perfect. You know her best :)
Sorry to hear that but try to not get too upset, hard as that may be. First of all, the lady might fancy herself a "classical dressage rider" but who knows how trained she is or how much she knows. I've met a lot of so-called dressage riders who are pretty useless and drive the horse down onto the forehand. Even if she is a reasonable rider, she might not have had the right style to get the best of your mare. I imagine, as she sent you an email saying that your horses training was not "up to par," that she might be one of those people who thinks her way is the only right way and rides the way she rides, regardless of what she's sitting on. My horse carries herself in a reasonably correct frame, uses her hind end, can be super light and flexible etc these days, but she can also go like an absolute donkey if the rider approaches it in a particularly tactless way. If she had fingers, she'd be giving certain ones to those types of people. As should you.
It also sounds like due to her conformation, your mare isn't going to be a dressage wonder and probably struggles to sit on her hind end. She probably wants a rider who is sympathetic to that. Just imagine, how she went when you got her versus how she goes now. If she is better, albeit not perfect, you and your mom should feel proud of yourselves. Not everyone is in the business of training GP horses!
Lastly, anyone who had the chutzpah to send me an email saying my horse's training was not "up to par" with their "traditional" riding style would be told *exactly* where they could shove that email. I certainly wouldn't want to lease a horse to someone like that.
Even if the horse's training isn't perfect and the horse needs more engagement or self-carriage or whatever, that doesn't mean the person who sends that email isn't being a jerk.
I have no doubt that you have made huge progress with your mare. :-)
I guess you two are right to some extent. This lady wasn't interested in seeing either of us ride, and she wasn't interested in any input from us about how to get the best out of the mare. She just got on, decided that the mare didn't feel "right"... and didn't think that it could possibly have anything to do with the fact that maybe she just didn't know how to ask for the best from her.
Still, I do feel that we are on this plateau. We haven't really seemed to make any kind of progress for months if not years. She seems to have gone about as far as she has the ability to go. Not to mention, if it was an uphill battle to begin with... it's only getting steeper and steeper as she ages. She's 18 years old this month. It's easy to say just keep working at it, don't give up... but the truth is we'll never achieve self-carriage.
The worst part is, I feel terribly guilty saying all of these things. We love our mare dearly... like a family member. After all, she's been with us for over 10 years.
My mom recently discovered that she is developing arthritis in her hip and needs to take time off for physical therapy. She is also going through a major transition from one position to another at her job... so our mare will be staying with me next year. I'm in school, working part time, and already bringing along our two year old (who will hopefully be our redemption, his confo/movement already suggests far more natural talent). In any case, she will likely be semi-retired with me. I may dabble in a bit of western style riding with her, and I will certainly always continue to love her and look after her every need.
Don't worry about what the lady said. She sounds very stuck up. I had one of those come see an arab I was selling as a well started trail horse, nothing fancy. She spent SIX hours of my time in repeated visits just to tell me he didn't have "quite enough extension in his front end". Of course I knew I was in trouble when she put a white lab coat on when grooming so she didn't get her pants dusty....
Every horse is an individual. Some can only progress so far. It sounds like you have done your best and she has a great home with you.
There's nothing wrong with just riding the mare around and not worrying about "working" her or trying to get self carriage. I think at this point you all probably deserve to take a break from the run around and just enjoy her for herself. Not sure if you trail ride or not, but that could be a nice job for her and give you an opportunity to ride without working.
OK im going to state what i have stated hundreds of time to hundreds of people.
Some Horse people are weird, cranky, and complete idiot that care noting about others and dont care what they say to them. And dont trust a horse person.
Ok with that said. Who knows she knows how to ride. Maybe she was doing stuff wrong. maybe she didnt click with your horse and how it was trained.
I think that at 18 years your mare probably has come as far as she's going to. Doesn't matter if she's up to anyone else's snuff, she's good for you and has improved, that's pretty darn good. You've mentioned her various conformation issues, that all affects her bio-mechanics and she can only do so much with that. There's no shame in doing the best you can with what you've got. I would take her out on trail, ride her western, chase a cow or 2 if she's got it in her, basically just change things up and let her have some time off to just be a riding horse; it sounds like she's earned it.
If your 2 year old is better built for dressage, then by all means start bringing him along to be the dressage superstar you are wanting, this mare has done her best and can't get there with what she's got. No shame in that at all.
As for the e-mail the lady sent you? What an AZZ! When I'm horse shopping and decide the horse is not for me, I either call or e-mail and say, "Thank you for your time and I really enjoyed meeting you and XXXXX (the horse). Upon reflection, I've decided to keep searching, XXXX is just not what I'm looking for. If I run into someone looking for this type of horse, I'll be sure to refer them to you. Good luck with your sales.". I never run a horse down or the owner or pick on faults. Just thanks but no thanks. If the horse was SO gawd awful I wouldn't refer the Alpo man to them I leave out the referral part of the e-mail. So tell the DQ to stuff it and go buy a $75,000 WB of her own and let it go.
Sounds like my gelding. Took him 8 years to work against the length of his back to get him into a good pleasure lope. Never made it higher than Congress level without getting obliterated in the show pen. Be proud of yourself and your horse. Honestly it's not about the horse - but it's about how much you have learned, how much you have worked. It's not a feeling that can be presented to other people, but something you have to keep very close to your heart. Honestly, like my old gelding, the mare is as far as she's going to go. And none of it is your fault, it's simply physical limitations. Then you take all your knowledge and skills and you find a new horse, better built, and then you'll realize that all those years were not for nothing, but a whole lot more. :)
Lady sounds like a piece of work. TS if the horse isn't up to her lofty standards. Snob. For all you know, she can't ride for squat. A good rider would want to get their hands dirty and help bring the horse along rather than criticize you for what training you have done to date. You took a rolkur trained horse and brought him along as best you could. Your horse is lucky to have you. Just tell your mom she said it wasn't a good fit and look for a nicer person to lease your horse.
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