Aires' progress (and mine)...
I decided today to start keeping a journal of sorts of everything that Aires and I accomplish together. I had a very scary (for me) moment today when I almost threw in the towel and said "to hell with this whole thing," but my amazing boy put his head over my shoulder and suddenly everything I've tried to do with and for him in the last three and a half months seemed worth it.
I feel the need to put my "to hell with it" moment in writing, so here goes. Today I went to the barn early-ish (I am house-sitting for a friend, so had to go feed his dog and horses before I went to the barn). Being that today was my day off, I was determined to ride Aires. So, I brought him up to the hitching rails and began grooming him. It was an unusually busy Friday at the barn with quite a few of the regulars there, including my friend who boards there and the trainer.
I had just put the blanket and pad on Aires' back and went to get the synthetic Abetta western saddle I've been borrowing from the BO. Yes, I have a nice aussie saddle that I love, but because I'm not used to the saddle and because Aires won't stop when asked, I don't feel comfortable using it just yet. Anyway, as I'm walking out to my horse, the trainer (who is sitting there with the BO, my friend and a new boarder) says "What happened to your aussie saddle that you just had to have and that you think is so wonderful and [blah blah blah]?" (I say "blah blah blah" here because I can't remember everything she said, but none of it was very nice). For some reason her comment, which was truly said in good fun, made me feel quite humiliated and angry. I later realized that my reaction to her words was only caused by the fact that the BO was sitting right there and, according to my friend (who he thinks is the greatest thing since sliced bread), the BO has said about me "I thought she said she could ride." Yes, I can ride, but getting thrown from that mare hasn't done me any favors in the confidence department. If he had seen me ride before I was thrown, that comment wouldn't have even been made.
Anyway, I wish I could say that I ignored the jibe by the trainer and just went about my business, but I cannot. I tried to defend my using the western saddle instead of my aussie saddle and ended up just digging myself into a deeper hole amid the peals of laughter and almost horrified looks of the trainer and my friend (all while the BO sat there and just shook his head). So, I finally just walked away and finished saddling my horse. I was even more angry than I had been before and I am ashamed to say that when Aires pulled his "I don't want to go" stunt going into the round pen, I got even MORE angry. Finally, I was on the verge of tears (of frustration and anger) and my friend comes walking up and informs me that the BO is "standing by" to help me, but that I have to ask him to help. That REALLY didn't help me any, so I basically said "Well then screw it" and walked away with Aires trailing obediently behind.
I walked the property and the arena for a while, then decided that I needed to get away. So, I went for a walk with Aires. I'm glad my friend was tactful enough to realize that I wanted to be alone and not insist that I wait for her to saddle up or just come walking with me. So, I went for a walk that lasted an hour and a half (walked the back roads behind the barn).
While on my walk is when I had my "to hell with it" moment. I was walking along, thinking about all the ways I've screwed up with Aires in the last three and a half months and started seriously considering just giving him back to the BO (who I bought him from) and being done with it. No more of other boarders saying that I just need to get over what happened with that mare and ride. No more having to deal with the looks the BO gives me whenever he sees me saddle up Aires, but not ride him. I stopped in the middle of the road (don't worry, absolutely no traffic anywhere) and stood there just crying because I didn't think I could do it anymore.
And that's when it happened. This big lug that I've taken from being a barely-halter broke two-year-old stud with no ground manners at all to a well-mannered, greenbroke gelding (we still have our moments, but they are few and far between) put his monstrous head over my shoulder and wrapped me in a horsey hug. I am not ashamed to admit that I turned around, threw my arms around his neck and cried. We stood there for quite a while.
When we got back to the barn, we went into the round pen (with a little help from my friend) and had a nice, productive lunge session. I came out and untacked Aires, then went to go put him in his stall. As I was walking to his stall, the trainer came up to me and sincerely apologized for what she had said. She explained that she had meant it jokingly and wasn't trying to make me feel bad at all. I told her exactly why I had been so angry and hurt and said that the BO didn't need yet another reason to think that I couldn't ride. She said that the BO just thinks I need to work with/ride Aires more (which is true...I have slacked off in the past couple of weeks because I had bronchitis), but that they are both VERY impressed with the groundwork that I've done with him. That made me feel a lot better, as I respect the trainer and the BO very much.
So, I have a lesson set up with the trainer next Thursday (just realized I might need to change that as I don't get paid until Friday :-|) to do a trail ride. She is going to work with Aires for a little while in the arena, working on his stop (my ONLY issue with him under saddle...I can handle everything else but his not stopping), then she's going to ride him on the trail and I'm going to ride one of the dude string horses. We're hoping this will help me gain some of my confidence back and it'll give me a chance to see how Aires acts out on the trail.
I think my biggest issue is that I can picture (and almost feel) the way I used to be able to ride and how I want to ride Aires. But as soon as I swing up into that saddle, my brain completely shuts down and goes into survival mode...and that frustrates me beyond words! :evil: Especially because I don't know how to fix it. I am a fixer. If there's a problem anywhere (at work, at home, wherever), I fix it. It's what I do. Not being able to fix this is driving me up the wall and frustrating me beyond belief. :cry:
Okay, so random question...I love my stock saddle. I really do. But, I'm thinking I might want to try WP at some local schooling shows with Aires, just for kicks. Also, right now I'm not entirely confident in my stock saddle (I feel like it throws me forward, but I know it doesn't) and lack of confidence in my saddle plus lack of confidence in myself plus a green horse equals nothing good happening. I found this really nice-looking western saddle for a great price on Craigslist today. What do you guys think? I'm tired of borrowing the BO's saddles, to be honest. And the saddle looks nice enough to use in future WP shows (if we do them...if not, I can always resell it).
If you like the saddle go for it.. If you think it'll be better riding in then by all means it can't hurt. I'm biased (really don't ride in anything but) but I love a good, faithful, comfortable saddle haha!
More importantly, don't give up. You two love eachother, & while that isn't what it take to train a horse, you do need heart to do it. Second, you should be proud of what you've done with him, doesn't matter how long it takes- your doing it! It's easy to get frustrated, I know bc it happens to me alot, I have high expectations of myself, what I do, & who I'm around- but I think it thru & make it happen.
Last, you'll get your confidence back, again, might take awhile, but you'll get it back.
Good luck & I hope you have awesome days with your boy for awhile!
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I took a MAJOR hit in the confidence department today (didn't have to do with riding...major drama at the barn regarding another boarder), so I'm trying to find ways to work around what happened.
Here's the saddle I'm looking at...it says it's a 15.5", which I'm comfortable with (I've ridden everything from 15-16" and they were all fairly comfortable...for a western saddle ;-) ). Western Saddle
picture of said saddle, please?
That looks like a trail/all around saddle from the 1960's maybe. It might have a pretty slick seat, tho. I have one just like that on my porch right now, hand made and really pretty 15 inch tho. also a slick seat. same sort of swell forks, too. That is a nice enough saddle. The 18 inch measurement means nothing. It is the tree that matters, and saying it's 8l5 inches concho to concho, is that on the inside or outside? They need to measure and photo better. Are there no used saddle shops in your area?
There are two, but the majority of the saddles they have are out of my price range (keep in mind that Aires will probably outgrow this saddle). I know FQHB fit him, as that's what the BO's saddles I've been borrowing are (a 16" Abetta synthetic and a 15.5" Circle Y trail saddle). I'm fine with a slick seat. I've ridden plenty of saddles with slick seats and the Circle Y the BO has is a slick seat. In fact, the saddle I rode Paleface in (the gray mare I rode at the Girls Scout horse camp last fall) had a very slick seat and I liked that saddle probably the best out of any western saddle I've ridden (except the BO's Circle Y).
I'll email them and ask them for pics of the tree measurement.
Thanks for sharing this story. Ur doing very good with him, but I feel like that sometimes, and its nice to know Im not alone! :)
Thanks, Wheatermay. :-) He's actually a joy to work with and learns very quickly.
Update on that saddle...the lady already got back to me about it and sent me a pic of her measuring the gullet. It is 8" between the conchos on the inside. Which, if I remember correctly, translates to FQHB, yes? Would it be awful to offer her $150 for it (she has it listed for $175)? I don't know why, but I just really like the looks of that saddle.
I really enjoy reading about your progress with Aires, but feel for you when you write about your (mis)adventures at your barn. I think I've said this to you before, but I'll say again, when you get your horse paid off, you should consider finding him another barn. It seems there is a lot of barn drama. If the barn drama is with other boarders, you can generally ignore it but when it's with trainers/barn owners, you're much more stuck with it as you *have* to deal with these people, as they're taking care of or training your horse! It can suck.
One of the reasons I left my last barn, in addition to its inconvenient location and the fact my horse was miserable, was that the barn owner was treating me like an idiot on a fairly regular basis and I was getting increasingly fed up with it. It wears on you after a while, even little, trivial things. Like when I got the ninth degree from the barn owner after I had the vet out to investigate why my horse dropped a lot of weight. "Did you ask the vet this? Did you explain that? What did the vet say about this? Did you tell the vet....?" As if I had never spoken to a vet before! I was ragin'. Stuff like that happened all the time. In another incident, the owner was in a proper mood with me: I'd been gone for four or five days on a climbing trip and had asked her to ride my horse. She'd had the horse on the trail and the horse apparently went lame. I was in and out of mobile phone range and when I had a signal, found a voicemail saying she'd gone lame on the trail and had to be led home. I called the owner back to say, "is the horse uncomfortable just standing or walking unridden? No? She's just lame walking downhill under saddle? No heat, swelling? Fine, I'll look at her when I get back in two days." The day I got back, I lunged the horse and she seemed completely sound, moving beautifully, to be honest. The next day I rode her in the arena. The following day I rode her on the trail. Sound, sound, sound. The day after that, I jumped her over wee 2' fences. There never was a sounder horse. In the meantime, the barn owner is rabbiting on about how something is wrong with her shoulder, how I need to get it dealt with. Arrrrgh!!! Maybe she stepped wrong or tweaked a muscle or something *that* day, but all I can do is deal with the horse in front of me, which looks sound as a dollar.
That's not even as extreme as what you've gone through, people giving you a hard time about being afraid, which is far worse. I guess I'm saying is that horse people can be utter tossers to deal with but don't have to be. There are lovely ones out there and nice barns where they stay.
After I moved the horse to the barn she's at now, which is brilliant, I realized I should have done it months before I did. It's just so delightful being at a place where the barn owners have clear boundaries between their job, as the horse's care-taker, and your job, as its owner, and are really nice, awesome people.
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