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Is my situation better than I think it is?
A lot of the time, I feel terrible about how I am progressing with my horse. Most of it is just due to the fact that 2 years ago when we bought her, even though she was still half green, she was going so well with the trainer and I just know that had she stayed with the trainer instead of being bought by me, she would be a much better horse than she is now. She was not abused or neglected or poorly trained, so I have no excuse for any misbehaviour she displays except that it's my fault...and I can only ever see to blame myself.
I'm going to describe my situation as best and as detailed as I can, and I know this whole thread sounds ridiculous, but I really want to know just how bad it really is, because I have a feeling I might be overreacting. I'm a pessimist in every area of life. So, read what I write below, and give me your honest thoughts-whether you think I'm ruining this horse and am a terrible match for her, or doing fine with her..or whatever.
For about the first year after I got her, I had no real clue how to handle horses and as a result was extremely timid around her. I was greener than she was, and to this day I firmly believe that had the trainer not put such a solid foundation on her, I would've been screwed many times over. Well, this past spring (spring 2010, I mean), I learned the concept of respect and personal space, and since then we have improved exponentially. The past 6 months or so, especially, have been monumental. I rode her bareback and bridleless for the first time this winter (with positive results), and every day I spend with her, every minute I spend on her back, I know I'm getting more confident and more knowledgable.
She doesn't have any vices, and is a complete dream to handle on the ground. Undersaddle, on rare occasions she may crowhop or bolt (short, 5/10-foot bolts, and is easily brought back under control) and she has reared about 3 times total in our time together. I'm not trying to downplay the situation, as rearing is one of the worst things a horse can do, but she's never gone full up, vertical, about to fall over backwards rear-her feet only come about a foot or so off the ground (from what I can judge from her back). She is not highly responsive undersaddle, but that is no fault of her own, and I plan to work on that this year when the snow melts, to get her as quiet and willing when riding as she is on the ground.
Spook-wise...hmm. She is not a flighty, bolting idiot, but she definitely has moments where she gets freaked out. She's usually very level-headed about tricky situations and -mostly- will stop and listen to me when we get in trouble. She's been caught in rope/wire/chain a few times, and has always stood perfectly still when I told her to-not that she's ever gone off her rocker in those types of situations, either. Generally, things like tractors, skidsteers, small animals, trampolines, kids and dogs running and jumping into the pool, flying objects, a bow and arrow being shot off her back etc don't bother her, but sometimes something as simple as a car driving down the lane will set her off. All in all, what you'd expect would scare her doesn't, yet she spooks when you are least prepared and at the stupidest things. It really doesn't help that I get nervous easily. I'm getting better at staying calm all the time, but when I think that something might set her off, I (though ashamed as I am to admit it) will go out of my way to avoid that object or place when I'm on her. Of course, there's also days where I'm in the "F*** you, I don't care what you want" mood and will push her to do more than I normally am comfortable with, but those are fairly rare.
I have messed her up pretty badly in some areas, however. She's now terrified of the snowmobile because of one scary instance a few months ago, and traffic is still a problem that I'm trying to get her over. With the trainer, she rode down trails past dirtbikes and four-wheelers, and with me she can barely ride down the ditch without getting upset and nervous over the passing cars and trucks. She doesn't ride off the property very well-partly due to lack of experience, and mostly because it's my fault and I get nervous and tense, anticipating a fight, and she gives me the reaction I was "looking for". She will go, but will be nervous and high-headed and calling for the other horses. All of the severe problems she has are completely my fault.
That's all I can think of right now. What do you think of my predicament? Am I being stupid? I know she genuinely is a good, honest, kind horse, but I can only ever seem to see the bad side of her, and there are many times when I think I should just sell her and get an old nag that I can just plod around on and gain some confidence. By sticking with my mare, I'm learning a lot, and slowly I am gaining confidence, but...it's tough sometimes.
I think your situation is fine. Your horse isn't perfect, but you have been making progress, and you know things you need to work on. Keep in mind that everyone is always working on something. Its takes a lot of time to make a horse and the rider into the perfect "never set a foot wrong" team.
I think if you called out a trainer to help you with the problems you're having, you'd be able to fix them pretty easily. Your horse doesn't sound dangerous, just green and in need of some miles.
Can you explain further what exactly upsets you? Did you set a timeline for progress with this horse?
Honestly, what upsets me is knowing she'd be much better off with someone else. I know in my heart that it's impossible for me to be as good and confident as the trainer is, but I'm a terrible perfectionist, and if one thing is unsatisfactory, I tend to focus on that and not see the good stuff. It hurts to think that I'm holding her back from her real potential (because she's got a lot of it).
This winter has been sort of off and on as far as riding goes, but as soon as the snow melts I'm planning to ride her at least an hour a day, and see real progress (as in, really quiet, responsive, non-spooky) by the end of the summer. I know if I'm determined enough I can do it, and I think that working under a time restriction will yield results for me faster than just toying around. This winter has been pretty bad for my morale-we haven't done much due to weather, and the fact that I've not been consistent or planned ahead on any of our rides has just set me up for disaster, pretty much. I'm really hoping that this summer will be positive for us.
Honestly, yes, there will always someone better. There will be someone who can work with your horse better, there will be someone who could do your job better, there will be someone who could draw, paint, sew, read, program, train dogs, climb mountains, do math, etc., etc., better.
You have to change your mindset about it. Don't think of it in a negative way, think of it as a positive. It's a great thing you are able to self evaluate what's wrong, so using that knowledge, find out what you can do to make it right. If you don't think you can physically do it for whatever reason, hire a trainer to come in and show you how to do it.
I don't think you are in a bad situation at all. I think you're in a great situation to learn. It's just a step to being a better horsewoman.
You guys sound like Shasta and I. Shasta could have gone really far but I had the intimidation issues. She was strong and tough (yet honest) and she flat out scared me on an xc course. That being said, I learned the most form her. I became a much better rider because of her. I have confidence when riding other horses because I know I can ride HER. never been on a horse that reared so I can't speak to that.
Would your horse be better trained with an experienced trainer? Sure. Would she be even more trained with an Olympian? Yeah. But the point is that you will learn from her and she will learn from you too.
To answer your question, I don't think your situation is bad at all. You feel down in the dumps now but the moment you get something small correct with your mare you will appreciate it more and it will be exciting!
Hang in there! You're on your way to becoming the rider you want to be! =)
Go easy on yourself. Like ptvintage said, there will always be someone better, but that doesn't mean that you are doing it wrong, or that you are bad. Your horse sounds good; she has a few little problems but it doesn't sound like anything that can't be fixed or anything that is disastrous. I think the fact that you want to work with her just shows how good you two can be together. Hang in there, that horse is lucky to have such a dedicated owner.
When I was 12, my mother helped me buy my first full sized horse. She was a 15.2 hand, seven year old AngloArab who was seven years old - who had not been ridden since she was four.
Yeah.... one day my mare was bucking down the length of the arena and my mother asked a trainer who happened to be present about sendign my mare out for training. He responded, "Nah, they are both greenboke. They'll be fine."
We were more or less ok, and boy did we have a lot of fun!! 30 years later my horse 'could have been a much better horse' under someone else's training. His full brother is a Champion and spent a couple years in the top ten stallion's list. My horse? I never bothered to change his registration to my name. We poke around with medieval games, driving, trail riding, and most importantly, we have a blast doing it.
I was just given a filly who should be in the show ring and selling for about $5,000 - but she was given to me because the breeder knows that she will be well loved and will have a great and fun life. She was bred for the show ring. Her dam and sire are multi-national champions, yet she will be a down the road trail horse who will never see a show ring... and we will have an absolute blast doing it.
The only thing you are doing wrong is not having faith in yourself. The thing you are doing right is being 100% honest about your situation, and making it better!
You are on the right track by having sat down, made a list, a goal, and setting out to accomplish them. Would she be better off with someone else, not particularly. Because what if she was pushed, or mistreated, misunderstood? You know her and her faults, not many of which are your doing. She is acting like a horse! It would only be worse if you didn't correct her and if you don't get help.
The snowmobile type incident happens all the time. I once doctored a filly with a bad cut on her cheek. I had raised her, imprinted her, and for a 3 year old she was basically bomb proof (not that I believe that even exists). When I applied the medicine I went after her like everything was fine, she usually sprayed well, but it freaked her out and I couldn't get near her for DAYS! I was SICK about it, my puppy dog follow you around in your pocket horse turned into a nose rattling, eye rolling freak, MY FAULT! And I've been around horses for over 20 years. So I got my horse wisper friend over and in 30 mins she had her back in line! I had to get help to get her over being terrified of me! OVERLY SENSITIVE Quarab.
Right now I have (what I think is perfect) a quarter horse mare that we bought 8 years ago. She was doing well in WP/reining and had an amazing future ahead of her, we've only ridden her on trails. She is now 14 and I'm just shooting myself because I didn't "do anything" with her. My trainer wants to show her for us to get some more points, but now she has an injury (freak accident) and she may never be sound again. Without the points I'm having a hard time deciding what to do with her. Just praying for a miracle.
I have many other stories of horses that I didn't take to the next level because this or that, who could have gone on to do many great things, maybe...
Just be thankful that you have her, whether or not you believe it this green mare is giving you the education of a life time, if you seize it. Hang in there!
you seem fine. you know what is causing the problems and you are working on improving... to me that sounds like good news..
first things first... before you work on her with her fears make sure you are in the right mindset and can overcome your fears... its generally my fears that are harder to fix and therefore my horses wont improve enless i get over it somehow.. that is the hardest part you are facing right now... but once you do, you will have a break through with your horse.
it wont happen over night which i know you realize that...so do not give up!!! :)
if it helps my mom used to tell me if something bad were to happen to you on the trail with just your little sister, what would you do. would you just break down and cry or would you put on a big face and act tough and do what you need to do to protect her... when i think of it like that it helps me overcome alot of fear issues on my horse and think of them as my younger siblings who need a strong leader.
keep up the hard work... IT WILL PAY OFF!! :)
The fact that you're aware of what's wrong, you're willing to take responsibility for your and her actions, and you're not sugar coating everything to advoid stuff you don't want to hear tells me a lot about you, and leads me to believe that will time and effort, you and your filly will be just fine. A lot of green and green instances end up terribly, but you sound like you have a good head on your shoulders.
Sure, you should of bought an older, been there done that horse, and maybe you've messed her up some. But what's done is done. If you're willing to work for a good relationship with your horse, you're going to get one.
Like the above poster said, work on yourself before worrying about her. That's the real work. Once YOU are confident in your abilities, SHE will be confident in your abilities and thus will trust you.
It might do you some good to take seperate lessons on a trainers horse, to instill some much needed confidence in yourself. Or if you can't do that, take some lessons on her. I really think it could help you tremendously.
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