In a funk
I'm having about the worst-timed horse-related bit of frustration and depression right now. It's no one's fault -- just an unfortunate series of events that's really taken a bit of shine off my horse enthusiasm lately.
It started a couple of weeks ago, when I agreed to do morning feeding and turnout/turn-in (weather dependent) while my coach was away. She told me to go ahead and have unlimited free ride time while she was away, but aside from one sunny morning, the entire week and a half poured rain and gusted wind and the footing was useless. I got one decent ride in.
I almost got two rides in, but the second attempt was on a cold morning with random gusts (ideal spooking weather) blowing through, and my normally Steady Eddie bombproof lesson horse started bouncing and spooking around, nearly spilled me in a big multipart shy-and-run spook, and I hopped off after only a few minutes and lunged her instead, where she proceeded to randomly explode, repeatedly, at seemingly nothing. This left me really badly shaken, as it was so polar opposite of her normal personality that my anxiety started to spiral. If I can't trust THIS horse, what horse can I trust? Am I stupid for ever trusting horses? Etc., etc.
The next day one of the horses I was trying to bring in -- who is normally a calm fellow with good ground manners -- panicked in his stall, got between me and the door and reared and kicked out and I thankfully managed to unclip his lead, get myself out of the way, and let him bolt out of there for my own safety. Then couldn't catch him because he was leaping around kicking out like an idiot. He blasted into the barn aisle and kicked out and broke a stall door, and I'm vague on exactly how the middle part happened, but shortly after... I had TWO loose idiot horses to try to catch. I gave up on bringing them in and shooed them back out into the field.
The next day, the better behaved of the two, who again is usually pretty chill, bit me on the hand when I unclipped him for turnout, and tore off before I could give him any consequences.
I swear the sudden drop in temperature this month has made them all start to act possessed.
The horses were all moved last week to their winter housing, at a nice little barn with an indoor arena, and while it was a new situation and they all needed to understandably have a chance to settle, their anxiety was over the top for the first few days, and while I was able to handle them all without incident (they each got turned out, on a lead, one at a time and got some remedial groundwork which helped a lot to get their brains back in their skulls) I find I'm still very shaken and on edge from the incidents the previous week.
I attempted my first ride there on Friday, on the usual normally bombproof mare, but the horses on turnout where charging around like yelling idiots in the paddock by the arena and even though my horse didn't put a foot wrong, her body language was tense and on alert the whole time, and I feared another big reaction like the previous ride, and only did about ten minutes of walk trot before throwing in the towel.
Yesterday I tried again -- this time with the other horses still in the barn so they wouldn't be a distraction -- and had a really nice relaxed ride, just some nice easy walk trot for maybe half an hour at most. She was a bit looky at one end of the ring but I just let her pick her own comfort zone there so she would have no reason to feel like shying, and rode through it gradually. She was nice and relaxed, stretching, lifting her back in the trot... Just a really nice ride, and then... the second I brought her in to untack her, she abruptly colicked. She was bad for a couple of hours but had started to recover by the time her owner came out to take over watching her. It was incredibly distressing to watch, though, as I hadn't seen a colic episode in a very long time and some of her symptoms were extremely unsettling. While I've since read that even the weirdest-seeming stuff was colic symptoms, I hadn't seen it present in that exact way before and worried until my coach got there that she was dying of a stroke or something.
I love horses, that particular horse, and my coach. I don't blame anyone for this string of bad luck, of course, but it's been totally exhausting and disheartening. My brain is currently making a point-form list of things it is CONVINCED are going to happen:
-The mare, having had one uncharacteristically spooky day, must be completely unhinged now despite two solid incident-free years of lessons on her, and she WILL spook so catastrophically that I fall off and die
-The other horses, despite having settled down considerably since the move and more regular handling, are DEFINITELY going to somehow kill me during blanketing and turnout
-If I ride the mare again, she'll colic again and it will be all my fault, even though I've never had that happen after any ride in the last two years
Any words of advice/encouragement? I'm heading into a potentially great situation this winter where I'll have unlimited riding opportunities with a private indoor ring very close to where I live. I don't want to go into it feeling this awful. It feels like there's already a shadow over the situation. I was feeling so pumped and positive for it until all this started happening. The change of seasons, daylight savings time, and bleak weather isn't helping my mood or attitude, either. Help!!