"Grass is greener" syndrome and finding "the one" - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 34 Old 04-14-2013, 02:04 PM Thread Starter
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"Grass is greener" syndrome and finding "the one"

I've sat here for 10 minutes trying to figure out how to start this thread, because it's been eating me up. It's become my number one stress, and I'd appreciate outside input. Let me first say that I am not a "froo-froo" person that thinks that the world is rainbows and butterflies, and I am the first one to say that I am not one of those people that is mushy-gushy about my horse being my best friend, etc. I'm a realist. I expect my horse to do his job, and I expect to be the rider to know how to communicate clearly and concisely. But recently I've really felt a lack of "bond" (gaaahh I can't believe I just said that word and meant it!) with Ronan.
When do you push through and see if there is a "bond" (gahhhh I just said it again!) and when do you move on?

My situation:
I've had him for just under a year now. When I bought him, he had been in professional training for a few months - he knew the basics and could get around a course, but he had no idea how to use his body properly, and was relatively dead to the aids.
I've learned a TON on him. We've progressed so much in just the past 6 months even, we're a totally different team than we were a year ago.
Ronan has a gigantic personality. He's a goof and just a fantastic horse on the ground. I actually forgot to put his halter on yesterday after I'd taken his bridle off and he just stood there, being a good boy. Eventually he wandered over for treats when I rustled the bag, which is when I realized that he wasn't haltered.
His first show was at Spruce Meadows (small classes) and he handled the atmosphere like he'd been born to it - totally calm and cool, just did his job. He's a "yes, ma'am" type of horse.
This next bit is going to sound very weird and it may not make sense, but bear with me...
He "talks" a lot on the ground - he's a people-horse, and loves attention. He's very very personable and such a sweetheart... but under saddle I find that he's "yes, ma'am" and that's all there is to it. He gives just as much as is asked. He has never said no, he's very willing but you know when you can tell that a horse loves his job? That spark? I'm not sure that's there. He doesn't go out of his way to say "YEP! Absolutely! I'd LOVE to do that for you!" He's very quiet and just says "Ok"

When I was a teenager, I leased my coach's stallion, Duke. He and I just clicked. Again, at the risk of sounding totally out to lunch and like a teeny-bopper, I would ask and he was right there with me. I would ride him around in a halter and he would be right there. It seems like I would just *think* about something and he was already doing it. We were fearless together. But we had discussions under saddle. He would think that something I was doing was stupid, and we'd find out that I was right after all. He gave me feedback all the time. I really can't explain it, but (oh god here I go again) we had a bond. He took care of me, he knew that I wouldn't ask something of him that we couldn't do, but sometimes we'd have to have a discussion about it.
My coach offered him to me for a significantly discounted price, because she saw our connection. I didn't buy him because he had a stifle issue. I still regret it.

Ronan is a fantastic horse. He's quiet as the day is long, he never says no, though it can take a while for the cue to sink in to his brain; it's got a long ways to travel from my seat/leg to his brain and back. He *is* awesome - he's honest and safe. He's a fantastic Jr/Am horse, as my coach loves to say. It's great to get back into jumping with a horse that seems to love jumping and has never refused a fence. He's brave and bold and does seem to light up a bit when it comes to jumping, but we only jump once or twice a week, max - and can go some time without jumping at all.

I just don't feel connected to Ro under saddle. He does what is asked, but (and this is going to sound crazy) there's no passion in his job. He does his job, absolutely, but there's no spark between us. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I haven't found whatever it is that makes him tick. But how long do you stick with that? Do you stick with a fantastic horse that you just don't click with, or do you go out and try to find a horse that you do *love* to ride? Can that spark develop?

Do I have "grass is greener" syndrome? Is it completely stupid of me to feel that Ronan isn't the right horse for me?

Cookies to everyone who read all that... here's a pic just so it isn't the.driest.thread.ever.

Last edited by JustDressageIt; 04-14-2013 at 02:14 PM.
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post #2 of 34 Old 04-14-2013, 02:13 PM
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Read it all......*gasp* you said the 'B' word....

Sounds to me like you have outgrown him in this short time and want a horse who will challenge you AND a horse YOU can challenge.....because sometimes challenging a horse and having a positive end result can create a *gasp* 'B' word!

Ok, where's my cookies?
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post #3 of 34 Old 04-14-2013, 02:28 PM
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I just came for the cookies.

I think I understood what you are explaining.

I think you might consider , when you are comparing him to some horse you rode and clicked with in the past, are you waxing nostalgic for that horse , or for the youth you were at that time?
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post #4 of 34 Old 04-14-2013, 02:34 PM
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I'm not one of those people who's "all about the 'bond'" or whatever and I certainly have no issues riding/working with a horse that hates my guts. However, I think I can say that a "bond" is not something totally unreasonable to wish for. I think people have taken it way out of context and made it into the froo-froo butterflies and rainbows thing, but I think, if you can get past the stupidity that's been added to the word, a bond is great to have with a horse.
At least in my case (I hate that I seem to bring this up every time I post but it's huge in my horse relationship so....sorry? haha), I can 100% tell you that Lacey and I have a "bond." It's not a froo-froo thing, no butterflies OR rainbows! It's more like that sort of friendship you have with a good friend where you each know what the other is thinking (that "click" you had with your trainer's stallion) and, while you argue sometimes/a lot, you're still good friend despite your differences of opinion. That's not a great way to explain it but, unless you were here with me and I could show you what I mean, it'll have to suffice.
I still treat her like a horse, not like a best friend or whatever, and she thoroughly respects me because I'm the "boss mare" but we still have a friendship. She really wants to be around me, unlike a horse that respects me as the leader but really does not like me.

Anyway, the point of all that is to say that I think you might have a touch of "grass is greener" going on.
It took Lacey and I a good 2 years before we really liked each other and a good 3.5 years before we were to the "acting in sync" stage. We're almost into our 5th year together (in July) and she's still surprising me with what she can do.
Our first year, she wouldn't do anything with any sort of heart involvement. She'd do whatever I asked but it was only because I asked her to. After about 2 years she started responding to my requests with a new sort of "adventure"-ness about her, like she was excited to do what I asked because she was enjoying herself.
Now she's pretty much game for anything I ask her to do and she does it with heart. If you had asked me 5 years ago if I ever though she would be excited to do anything I asked, I would have told you "Heeeeecckkkkk NO!"

I almost gave up on her back then because I wanted a partner that was enjoying herself and if I had, I would have missed out on a really beautiful relationship. Give it a few months. Maybe 6. Then decide, imho.
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Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #5 of 34 Old 04-14-2013, 02:36 PM
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You are explaining there exactly what I found with Mr G, and why I eventually decided to sell him. I loved him as a horse, but he took me a little way, but that very polite "Yes Mam if you insist" There was nothing err there.

Now I have horses who have that spark, and a connection, I decided that I would rather end up parked sideways at X with a big smile on my face thinking "That was a great dance" than halting square with a smile thinking "Well that was OK"

So, yes I understand, and go find that spark, and that connection, a horse with energy and drive, a nice Andi would fit the bill

“Never attribute to malice that which can be attributed to stupidity”
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post #6 of 34 Old 04-14-2013, 02:42 PM
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He isn't the horse for you. If every time you're getting on this horse you're thinking about your previous one, he's not right for you.
I mean, that's how I see it.
I had the most incredible bond with a horse, almost exactly like what you described with Duke. However, I left that barn for a lease opportunity. Every time I rode my leased horse I'd think about Tanner. "Oh, if I were riding Tanner he would have done x. If this were Tanner he'd have responded with y", etc. And I finally realized that this meant that my leased horse and I weren't right for each other. He was a great guy, but it just wasn't right.

When you can have a horse and not be thinking about your previous one all the time, then you've found the right one, imo.
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post #7 of 34 Old 04-14-2013, 02:59 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone for your input. I've read and thought about your replies, and I really appreciate you guys taking the time to reply to (what I would find to be) a very silly thread. Ha!
Everyone has brought up very interesting points, and a *lot* to think about.
The Duke thing happened over a decade ago - and while I still think of him occasionally, I'm not comparing every ride. It's just that when I start thinking about "bonds" - I think of him, because he and I had a connection. I started thinking of him again just yesterday actually, as I was discussing this situation with a friend and she brought his name up.
Wallaby, you hit the nail on the head as far as the degradation of the "B word" - I don't want my horse to be my best friend, I have humans for that, at least a few of them. I want a connection. I've felt it before, and I want it again. Not the froo-froo, post videos on YouTube ucky teenager stuff, but the connection between rider and mount, a mutual respect and mutual drive to become better... with the caveat that I am still 1000% boss mare.
You know, you guys bring up some very very interesting points - 1) the connection could be there and could take some time to develop. But how long can I wait until I say "OK, it's not there, NOW I can move on" - a year more? Three? Ten? 2) Golden, you hit it on the head with your dressage analogy. Duke and I had our ugly moments, but I LOVED riding him. I'm not sure I LOVE riding Ronan. He's a great horse, I'll say it again.. but I'm not sure he's the horse for me.
Tiny, interesting perspective. I don't miss my teenage years, if that's what you're getting at- hahaha! I'm finally feeling like I'm a better rider than I was even as a teenager when I was at the height of my game. I feel I'm coming close to surpassing that, and with a bit more age on me I have more understanding and respect for training. I'm not saying that I want Duke back, or my teenagehood, but rather that I've felt that connection before and I know it's out there... does that make sense?
Muppet, is it possible to outgrow a green horse? I'm being a hundred percent serious when I ask that, because he's still developing as a riding horse and hasn't hit any maximum anywhere.. very very interesting point...!!
Cat, very valid points, thank you for your story as well!
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post #8 of 34 Old 04-14-2013, 03:16 PM
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Yes, I suppose it is possible to outgrow a green horse. I'm thinking if you see huge possibilities with Ronan (I don't know him, so can't comment to it) and know for sure he's going to develop into a superstar high level horse, then it gives you something to aim for, therefore challenging yourself and him, and this is where I think that connection comes in.......but if you are saying to yourself 'ok, we've made it as far as we can, this isn't fun anymore and it's kind of routine' then the relationship becomes stagnant.......

I guess it's kind of like human relationships, a good friendship or marriage needs to be mutually beneficial for both parties.....or else somebody is going to sour and look for a 'greener pasture'...........
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post #9 of 34 Old 04-14-2013, 03:31 PM
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I don't have any advice, just my own experience.

When I'd had my horse for about one or two years, we went through a "frustration" phase because I envisioned something with more "spark," in the way you mean it, and she was (and is) the sort of horse who says, "Shoulder-in, yeah okay," and not "OMG, I would LOVE to do that shoulder-in for you." In other words, I think she is very similar to your lad. Over time, I realized that she is a horse who shows her trust/love/bond/whatever anthropomorphising word you want for it, through quiet willingness and dignity. She's not an eager puppy dog of a horse; that would be beneath her. But every day, she quietly and sweetly accepts the bridle and saddle and goes out and does whatever job you want her to do that day, be it hacking, dressage, jumping. She knows what she should be doing and more importantly, knows what you should be doing, and will patiently and quietly ignore your useless riding until you get your act together. Not being a puppy dog, she does not say, "I don't understand! Don't know! Stressed!" She simply says, "Whenever you don't throw yourself off my inside shoulder in the canter transition, I'll canter. Don't care if it's in the next two minutes or next week." Being any other way would, as I said, be beneath her dignity, and I would not have her any other way. She's not young now, but she was like this even when she was.

I've come to learn that a horse like this has a gift, and I'm riding quite a few other horses for other people nowadays, and none of them have that quality. The more horses I ride, the more I come to appreciate the gift and the power that she has.
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post #10 of 34 Old 04-14-2013, 03:38 PM
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It is certainly possible for you two to progress at different rates. If your heart isn't in staying with him and helping him develop along with you then time for another ride. He's a beautiful animal. I'd say give it a few more months maybe finish out the year to be sure - you may change your mind but it sounds like you are looking forward by looking back....
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