my discouraged rant
My horse is my best friend and it breaks my heart to rant, but I need to get it out.
This isn't the first time I've had doubts. Things were going so much better for me a month ago, but now, things are going horribly in my mind. I know I just moved stables, I know I need to adjust, but I am having serious doubts.
I feel like I'm getting so weak. I feel like I'm losing my patience, and I feel like I've practically lost my leadership position with my horse. My horse double-barrel kicked me yesterday, and my thigh is extremely purple and swollen, and quite honestly, I could have gotten seriously injured -- with the potential that I may have not come out alive if it had struck me in the head or chest.
See, I've thought about it before, how fragile life is when it comes to horses, how much of a risk I'm actually taking... but the fact that a thigh bruise freaked me out concerns me. I love my horse. I really do. I would do so much for her. But part of me is trying to look at things realistically. Lately, things have been SO much work. And I LOVE hard work, I love the results at the end, and I know it will be worth it in the end, so quite honestly I don't know if this is even worth me writing this... but I'm an inexperienced dressage rider trying to train a horse that doesn't have a whole lot of experience. YES. I have professional help. But I don't feel that it is enough. And I know my horse could be doing rated shows and professionally competing if it weren't for ME and the fact that I haven't been able to bring her along because I just don't KNOW.
No, it wasn't a mistake that I bought her, as a matter of fact it's the best decision I've ever made. And I love with her all my heart and she's my best friend. The idea of me parting ways makes me cry immediately, and I'm truly in love with her. But at the same time, I worry for my safety. I know we just moved stables, and she never used to act like that. But lately I haven't felt that same connection. I've felt fear. I've felt worry. I've felt my gut before going to the stable fill with doubt or anxiety that something awful could potentially happen to me.
I just don't know where I stand anymore. I don't know what is realistic for me. I mean, no one can "crush" my dreams, because my dream is to show her at the rated AQHA shows when we both grow together to the point where that is realistic. But at the same time, I don't know what I should do. I don't want to get hurt and I don't want to hold back a horse that could potentially be so much more.
I don't even know what part of this schpeal I'm asking advice about. But I just feel so lost. Did I mention I'm a full-time student? It's not easy doing all of this. I love it, I love the barn, I love my girl, but lately, my heart has felt... somewhat broken. on a daily basis.
Take a deep breath. Let it out.
Take another one. Let it out.
It sounds like you've been very busy, very stressed, and under a lot of pressure. I know the feeling- yesterday I didn't even want to SEE my horse, let alone ride, and he wasn't even feeling all sassy and reactive like your girl has been because of all the changes in her life. When things that normally bring you joy don't, it means you need to take some time and recover some of your normal equilibrium. Your 'bucket' of good things might just have been sucked dry, making it difficult to enjoy anything, even things that should normally make you happy. It happens. Especially when you're working so hard you're not taking good care of your (mental, physical, emotional) health.
Maybe what you're feeling now is a result of some real concerns that you need to do something about, maybe not. Is there any way you can focus on groundwork and some low-stress 'fun' activities with your girl? Grooming, hand-grazing, take her for a walk and the like?
The problem started when there was a lot of drama at my old stable. I was desperate to get out, and so thankful when I did, but I didn't even think of the whole loss of her ground manners. Quite honestly, I've gotten so committed to dressage and the desire to continue on that path that I don't want to give that up and go back to something just for pleasure. That reach for dressage does give me pleasure. The past couple of weeks I haven't ridden for a combination of reasons (being out of town, moving, my horse's leg was swollen, udder rash, etc.) so I have been focusing on grooming her and spending time with her but it hasn't made a huge difference as far as I can see.
Thanks for your advice. I'm glad you understand and it honestly helps to have someone give me that sort of advice. I just don't know what to do...
I agree 100% with Sharpie - I've been through college, and I know!! Then juggle work/studies, etc.... Yes, take a deep breath, and for a while, just simply go and enjoy being with your horse! I have my horses right out back at my fingertips and don't ride very frequently as there are sooo many other awesome things/interactions I encounter with them in daily life. Think on those terms, and do not put yourself on a 'riding agenda'! Sit quietly with your horse after grooming, with the two of you simply taking in the fresh air, sounds and sights of the outdoors. Thoughts of riding/accomplishing moves in the saddle will then seem so unimportant in comparison to those peaceful times...try this, and see how you'll feel after :)
Thank you. I appreciate that. Sometimes I wonder if this whole "dressage life" is right for me. I remember when I used to go on trail rides and not be concerned about technique or anything at all and I was so happy. but who knows.
right now all the ground manners and whatnot makes me nervous to just be around my horse sometimes. Like I'm legitimately nervous to go get her in the field now. I actually have a fear. And a limp to go along with it.
IMHO u need to set ur horse straight and fast. I can soooo relate to fear when ur horse seemingly has the upper hand.... Or does dangerous things in an attempt to get it.
A while back my new gelding was exhibiting some pretty dominant behavior and I was having difficulty getting a handle on it. I posted for some help and a very wise lady told me to start on the ground. To not let him get away with ANYTHING.
I took that advice.... Leading him in and out of his pasture. Expecting COMPLETE respect at all times. I have owned him 6 weeks now and I have seen a COMPLETE turn around these past few weeks.
So what?? You changed stables. How is she gonna act at a show outside of what she familiar?? She has GOT to respect you at All times regardless of change.
Kickin you?? Entirely unacceptable. And she needs to know it. Establish some clear boundaries and u both will be much happier.... And safer.
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First, I'm glad that all things considered, you're okay and that the kick didn't injure you worse. I seriously hope you gave your mare a CTJ moment after that.
I hate to say it, but if your horse is kicking you, then yes you have lost her respect. I don't know what your trainer is helping you with, but if it's only riding, then perhaps you should put that on hold and ask for lessons on groundwork, or find a trainer who can help you with that in the meantime.
I don't know how much time you're spending researching, but it's important. VERY important. You will not learn until you are taught. If it means spending less time at the barn in order to read and watch videos, then you absolutely should do that.
Fact is, regardless of who owned your horse, she probably would not be competing if she was double barrel kicking her people. Matter of fact, she could very well have found herself on the way to the meat truck for it (I know PLENTY of people who would not hesitate to cart a horse to auction for such disrespect and endangerment of a human.)
I'm not sure what activities you're doing with your horse, but let's start from there and see if we can get some people on here to suggest some changes for you, because what you're doing right now is just not working.
This has nothing to do with Dressage and everything to do with groundwork and establishing a workinng relationship with your horse. Riding may have to take a back seat for a few weeks while you do groundwork. Nothing wrong with that! Every few months I have to take a week off and do a "reset" on my horse and remind him what the status quo is.
I agree that you are stressed and things look really dark today, but it won't last.
on the other hand, she should not be given some dispensation to behave badly just because you moved her to a new barn. Some dressage instructors do not seem to put much emphasis on having a horse that has good ground manners, but only that they move well in the arena.
have you ever considered looking into some assistance from another trainer, who might work with you on getting good ground manners? I guess you could say , one who might be called a natural horsemanship trainer? I don't mean no traditional trainer cannot help you here, but only that you might find a more focus on just ground manners with a NH trainer.
And I don't mean wiggle the rope and swing the stick., I mean someone who shows you what your need to expect in the way of obedience, and how to see when it is not happening (at the very smallest show of it) and get a change, before you get double barrelled. you'd then feel so much more capable and safe, because you'd be better able to head off potential problems before they develop.
hang in there!
On October 7th, you started a thread about having switched from pasture boarding to stall board with 4 of 5 hours of turnout.
Perhaps your horse needs more outdoor time. Get's anxious and/or agitated being stalled much of the time. Anyway to trial more pasture time, lots of pasture time, again for a few weeks and see if that solves some of the issue?
Your thread about moving to stall board with some turnout:
Thanks for all the advice everyone!
I didn't mean to give the impression that my trainer is not necessarily hands on or for the groundwork. As a matter of fact, one of our first lessons was partially lunging just to learn how to do it correctly and have that connection on the ground. However, of course he is a dressage trainer and not a NH trainer. No, I've never looked into that before and I've never thought about it really. does anyone know if there is a particular database or way to locate legitimate NH trainers? Of course I am interested in pursuing lessons with my regular trainer, but I like the idea of the NH trainer nonetheless.
It's really a shell-shocker for me to see that my horse was once so obedient and her ground manners were entirely responsive and to see her flip like a dime really surprised me.
Quite honestly, I don't know where this is coming from, but this whole thing sort of makes me want to not do dressage. It's probably just a feeling I'm getting on this Sunday night. It makes me want to become a trail rider and just enjoy my horse instead of getting so wrapped up in the technique all the time. That's a big issue of mine. I focus so much on the practice and the days per week and the lessons and the training and sometimes I just forget to enjoy my horse! I've convinced myself that dressage is the "right" way to ride and that the others are not for me. Which is a separate issue..
Oh, did I mention my girl also broke someone's finger today? Not mine, either.. :/
Not trying to make her sound like a monster. She usually is a sweet horse. But lately, her ground manners have not been acceptable and she has been rough.
But as far as turnout goes, she has actually been getting a good amount. The past couple times I've gone to the farm she has actually been out in the field (which has proved difficult for me of course) which is great for her.
just can't wait for all this to pass and I can't wait till I feel adjusted to this new place. Right now... ay yay ay.
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