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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
I had another riding lesson today. I wouldn't say it was great, but it wasn't terrible, either. It had just poured, the horse was grumpy, and I'm really finding it difficult to get him to do things. He's the type that won't do anything unless you ask correctly. So my seat, and my hands, and my lower leg, etc all have to be juuuuuust right, or he won't even walk. I did get him trotting, and got to work on posting a bit, but he tried to run off with me a few times to see if he could. A few good things: she said I have a rock solid lower leg, my heels stayed down, my posting did improve, and I worked through him getting too fast on me without feeling panicked about bolting or falling off. Unfortunately I start my new job tomorrow and the instructor only teaches until 5 pm, so I'll probably have to wait until I get my schedule figured out and see how flexible they are before scheduling any more with her.

I didn't have much time after my lesson, but I had picked up some pool noodles for working with Dylan and really wanted to try them out. When I got there, my friend and her boyfriend were hanging out with his gelding. He wanted to see how his horse did with the noodles. It wasn't great, but I also don't blame the horse for his reaction... definitely not how I introduce Dylan to things, that's all I'll say.

While that put a bad taste in my mouth, I didn't want to let that get in the way of our progress. Dylan was a smidge concerned when I came in the pasture with the noodle, but I think he's getting used to me coming at him with weird things and happily ate dinner. I didn't have enough hands for his halter and rope so we worked at liberty. I would say I got probably 5 good minutes out of him, and beyond that initial "what the heck is that?!" he was fine. He did attempt to taste test it, even though I told him it wasn't spaghetti 馃槀
Sky Horse Cloud Working animal Liver


Horse Sky Plant Cloud Liver


I think my next steps will be to start with something he's used to in the field, like the flag, and then move him into a "yellow" zone for a few minutes and see how that goes. I really think I'm ready to ride him again but I don't know how it would go to ride in the field with the mare.

I did text the owner of the place where I've been taking lessons to see if she's got room for him. If it's not incredibly expensive, I'm seriously considering it. I am afraid to make my friend mad but I can't watch horses be treated like that, and I think it would just be better for us to have a safe place to ride with trainers and instructors around. At the last place, the owner was willing to do lessons on him even though we were both "green" at dressage and I really, really enjoyed it. She said she would be willing as well, although she doesn't typically work with gaited horses. We will see what happens!
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
I had a big post planned for tonight, but I'm pretty tired so I'm going to cut it short. I got back on Dylan today! I was feeling very nervous about it, especially because it was evening and he seems to be most worried around that time. But my friend and her boyfriend agreed to go at my pace for however I wanted the evening to go, so that was really great of them. I borrowed a western saddle that fits him well vs using my dressage saddle, although I ended up feeling a little uncomfortable myself in it because I'm just not used to them anymore! My friend led us for a loop around the pasture, and then I rode him for a loop myself. And then I was done! It wasn't much, but I really wanted a good experience for both of us. Most likely he would have been fine to continue with the other horses around, but I feel happy with it anyway. It was a big step and I'm very relieved to have gotten past it. It did remind me how much fun he is to ride, and now I'm itching to go again. We walked around and hung out with them after that, with me on the ground. It was a good evening.
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Discussion Starter · #46 ·
I have ridden the past 2 evenings. Last night was wonderful. I was in the saddle for probably 30-40 minutes and felt great the whole time. My friends (I'm going to start calling them M and D as that's easier) commented that I haven't smiled that much in months. He had moments of worry, and I did get off once and work with him a minute before getting back on and continuing to ride, but overall I felt safe and he was very willing to do everything I asked.

He got more worried as it got darker, so I am wondering again if his eyesight is maybe an issue. At one point I was working on "touch" where I ask him to reach his nose out and make contact with an object. He would immediately touch it when I presented it to his left eye, but didn't move at all when it was on his right side. Once I moved it to where his other eye could see it, he would immediately make contact. He also gets really worried if someone is walking him on that side. He often will crane his head and neck around when we're walking, and the spook where he tossed me was at dusk as well. There are times where he stares off with complete focus for a minute or more at a time, like he's trying very hard to see something in the distance. I'm going to bring it up to the vet again, but last time I asked, she said he was fine so maybe I'm just trying to justify his antics so I feel better lol.

Tonight wasn't as great. Dylan had a huge spook right before I was going to mount, so I decided to stay on the ground for a bit and just work on getting his attention. But I couldn't get his focus, no matter what I did. After probably 20 minutes, I attempted to mount but the saddle was loose, and then D joined to ride with his gelding, and in the mix of everything I lost my nerve. I rode for maybe 5 minutes, but we did lots of ground work and I don't feel like the evening was lost. I hoped just getting over the hump and being back on him would be like a switch was flipped and I wasn't scared anymore, but I guess that's not going to be the case. I keep saying I just want to fill our bank with good experiences, even if it's only 5 minutes in the saddle at a time. Another part of me thinks that I should just push through the nervousness and keep riding as long as he's acting okay, but I'm worried that I'm telegraphing my nerves to him and making it a bad experience for him. I want us both calm and happy.

I think we're going to ride again tomorrow, but I'm going over earlier so we can see if he's less worried with more light as we're riding.
 

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I hoped just getting over the hump and being back on him would be like a switch was flipped and I wasn't scared anymore, but I guess that's not going to be the case.
Sixty two years ago, I got a serious concussion when a horse bolted with me, stepped in a hole, flipped, and fell on me. If I am on a horse that starts running and I can't stop him, if I pull on the reins and get . . . pure iron . . . no response, I still get a panicky feeling. I've learned to deal with it somewhat, but it's always there when a horse takes off with me out of control. You'd think I'd have gotten long over it, with the millions of successful rides I've had, but it comes back pretty strong when a horse is bolting out of control with me.
 

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I think it鈥檚 a fair thing to panic over @knightrider! It didn鈥檛 used to bother me as a kid, and my mare was a notorious run away. As I got older it bothered me more and more, never on her, but any other horse who鈥檇 runaway. I see the same thing you see, holes, ditches, fences鈥

Keno really got under my skin with his effort to run into objects. If Queen drops her shoulder at all, I kind of get that panic back. I have worried many times over if she acted like Keno. I think it鈥檚 normal for our minds to attach to something like that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #50 ·
Sixty two years ago, I got a serious concussion when a horse bolted with me, stepped in a hole, flipped, and fell on me. If I am on a horse that starts running and I can't stop him, if I pull on the reins and get . . . pure iron . . . no response, I still get a panicky feeling. I've learned to deal with it somewhat, but it's always there when a horse takes off with me out of control. You'd think I'd have gotten long over it, with the millions of successful rides I've had, but it comes back pretty strong when a horse is bolting out of control with me.
I can (usually) get him stopped at this point after a step or two. I feel like I should be less worried because of that. The saddle slipping was what caused me to fall. I haven't had the guts to use that saddle again, yet. I'm using a spare western saddle of my friend's. It actually fits him way better than every other one I've tried, including my expensive dressage saddle, but it's a very low quality brand so I don't know if I would want to use it long term.
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
I had a great lesson tonight! I was on a 23 year old retired eventer. He felt a little stiff at times, but he was so good and it was like he could read my mind. I barely thought "go" or "stop" or "turn left" and he did it. The instructor told me before I got on that everyone calls him Mr. Perfect and he makes everyone look like a professional rider and I can definitely see why! Both horses I have ridden there have been OTTBs and I really think I'm in love lol. They're both forward without being hot or feeling like they'll just take off on me, responsive and kind. Of course they're way bigger than Dylan, but I don't feel intimidated by the size at all. Just overall a good lesson and I hope I get this horse next time too 馃檪

I didn't end up riding last night, as my family requested I spend some time with them lol. I probably won't have the chance again until Sunday, because we have to go school shopping this weekend. Here's hoping my nerves settle even more before then!
 

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Discussion Starter · #52 ·
I haven't been doing much with Dylan recently. My kids started back to school and I'm coming back into my exercise routine after having COVID and the injuries I got after my fall, so I'm basically dead after work everyday. I'm also really struggling with what to do. I hoped taking lessons would help my confidence with him, but it seems like I'm feeling the opposite. I hate that I can feel so happy and confident on horses that I've never even met and not my own. So this may be the end of the journal, because I'm really considering selling him on to someone who is a better fit 馃様 and getting another horse down the road, after a few more years of lessons.
 

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Discussion Starter · #53 ·
I have really been down in the dumps recently. I think part of it is that I'm still having some symptoms from the concussion, so after a full 8 hour day of work, my head is pounding and I just want to lie down. I've been forcing myself to get up and exercise again, which has helped my mood and mental health tremendously.

I think keeping Dylan at my friend's farm is becoming toxic for us both. He is a horse that really needs stability. When we were at the terrible place before, one of the problems was the owner "solving" his herdbound-ness by changing his turnout arrangements constantly. Any time he showed interest in another horse, she moved him so he didn't "bond" with that horse. This messed him up so much, he turned violent, to horses and people. The year at the dressage barn really helped him feel better. But now in 6 months at my friend's barn, he has been in an uncountable amount of herd situations again. She sold a horse, bought 2, brought in 2 boarders, may be selling his pasture mate, and is constantly moving which horses are in which fields. One week he's in with just his buddy mare, then he's in with her and a gelding, then they move the gelding clear across the farm and he's sharing a fenceline with brand new horses, then those horses are moved across the farm, etc. It's chaos. And I have my friend constantly in my ear telling me to sell him on, or telling me to call their trainer (who I refuse to work with after watching him beat their horse with a flag to "desensitize" him). This makes me constantly question myself and feel like we would be both better off if I sold, which I'm not sure is true.

We're quickly approaching dangerous levels of worry out of him again. On Sunday, my daughter and I went out to bathe him. My friend had someone looking to buy her mare. Things were great, for a while. He was perfect for his bath, really enjoyed the attention and grooming, and loved the hand grazing (the fields are grazed way down there). Turning out was the problem. They had the other horses out riding, where he couldn't see them. I got him to the pasture and he exploded. I was able to just barely keep him under control and get him turned out, but he almost ran me down a few times in his panic. I know he wasn't interested in hurting me. His problem was that he was in a blind panic worrying that the other horses were gone. When he's in a stable environment, this kind of thing doesn't bother him. I know that, because many times I turned him out alone at the dressage barn and he was fine, outside of yelling once or twice. He knew eventually his friends would be back, so there was no panic involved. I can tell the constant shuffling of horses is bringing back that insecurity and causing increasing behavior issues. It's just not a great environment.

So I talked to the owner of the lesson place I've been going to. She's a trainer/eventer, and came highly recommended by a couple of the women at the dressage barn. I trust their opinions and if they say she's great, I believe it. She's only looking to take on training boarders at this time, but we definitely need training so that works out lol. I told her we probably won't fit in, and he's not going to be like many of the horses she has there, but she said her training is individual to each horse and rider so that's not a problem. We will likely do one training ride and one lesson a week, and evaluate after a few months to see if we want to drop down from that. I can afford it, although it's going to funnel money away from getting my land ready for him here. I think we both need training and instruction if we're going to be successful on our own, so I'm willing to do what it takes.

I almost listed him for sale several times this week but couldn't do it. It didn't make me feel relieved when it came down to making that decision. I felt like I was making a mistake. So I do think, in my heart, I know that the right choice is to keep him and continue working towards happiness together. It almost feels like I wouldn't want to have any horses in my life, if I didn't have him there, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #55 ·
What a difficult situation. I wish you didn't have these things going on for you. I hope the new situation is a good solution. When do you move Dylan?
Thank you. I absolutely hate that I keep putting him in these less-than-ideal situations. I do wonder if he would be better off without me, even if I'm not better off without him! I can't wait to bring him home and give him a steady place for the rest of his life.

She said October 1st would be best for her, as she's getting married this month, and I told her that was okay. That way I can give my friend a month's notice. If she kicks me out immediately, I guess I'll ask if we can go ahead and move him and just start training in Oct. I told her it's really important that he's not constantly moving between turnout situations and she said that her boarders are pretty steady and outside of taking horses to shows, there isn't a lot of shuffling. I'm waiting on her to send over the boarding and training contracts to review and sign.
 

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I completely understand how awful it can be to deal with that blind panic- my oldest mare Isabel is the same (and the reason I have three horses, including two who are retired!). Fortunately she's tiny, basically a pony sized horse, so while she is still dangerous when she panics, she's small enough that I can handle her and stay safe. And at this point, I'm able to accommodate her need to always be kept with another horse, so we manage.

While I know you're having a lot of challenges at once, from the outside looking in, it actually sounds like a great opportunity once you get through this rough patch. You know your horse well enough to know what he needs and what is difficult for him to handle. And you are taking the steps to get him into a better situation, with a trainer you personally like, who seems ready to meet him where he is. It might be a stressful month now, but hopefully it will be worth it to get him to a better place.

I also completely relate to how different it is when you get on a horse that makes you feel safe and confident compared to one that just doesn't. I wouldn't blame you at all for wanting to ride a horse that gives you those feelings of safety. And if Dylan isn't that, it's ok to find him a new person who enjoys riding him. After you both spend some time together with your trainer, I bet you'll have a clearer sense of the right path for the future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #57 ·
I completely understand how awful it can be to deal with that blind panic- my oldest mare Isabel is the same (and the reason I have three horses, including two who are retired!). Fortunately she's tiny, basically a pony sized horse, so while she is still dangerous when she panics, she's small enough that I can handle her and stay safe. And at this point, I'm able to accommodate her need to always be kept with another horse, so we manage.

While I know you're having a lot of challenges at once, from the outside looking in, it actually sounds like a great opportunity once you get through this rough patch. You know your horse well enough to know what he needs and what is difficult for him to handle. And you are taking the steps to get him into a better situation, with a trainer you personally like, who seems ready to meet him where he is. It might be a stressful month now, but hopefully it will be worth it to get him to a better place.

I also completely relate to how different it is when you get on a horse that makes you feel safe and confident compared to one that just doesn't. I wouldn't blame you at all for wanting to ride a horse that gives you those feelings of safety. And if Dylan isn't that, it's ok to find him a new person who enjoys riding him. After you both spend some time together with your trainer, I bet you'll have a clearer sense of the right path for the future.
I will say I handled his panic much better this time than I would have a year or two ago. I wasn't scared, I understood what was happening and why, and I knew what I had to do to get us both to safety. I could have attempted to refocus him, but I thought the best way to handle it at that moment was just to get him turned loose so he didn't hurt himself or me.

I am excited about going to a "real" facility again. I never thought I would say that. It seems like there's always someone there to help or offer advice, he's calmer because there are horses around, I enjoy arena work (especially dressage), and I like lessons on other horses but I LOVE lessons on my horse. And honestly, in that type of situation, I feel perfectly safe and happy on him. I do eventually need to move him home, we bought land specifically for that purpose after all, but I'm going to prioritize an arena so we can both enjoy riding together. The only thing I can see being a problem is wanting lessons but not being comfortable taking him off property to do them, but I guess we will cross that bridge when we get there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #58 ·
This is not a good picture of me. But it's one of my absolute favorites. We were doing a dressage clinic with a really wonderful clinician who focuses on relaxation and allowing the horse to stretch and move freely vs putting them in a frame. She starts on the ground, on the lunge, teaching the horse to stretch down and carry themselves well to build topline and balance. We did 3 clinics with her last year, this was the final one and the only one I was riding. I just love the way he's focused, on me, on what we're asking, on moving correctly. He obviously wasn't trained to be balanced or anything, he's very much a point and shoot type of horse and used to go with his head straight up in the air, but when I look at this picture, I am transported back to this lesson and how hard he tries to do what I ask, when he's in a safe and comfortable place.
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Discussion Starter · #59 ·
When I went to feed Dylan last night, my friend's boyfriend immediately told me they were going to move him AGAIN into another field, away from his pasture mate, with the boyfriend's gelding. Those two do well together, I actually had wanted to buy that gelding when he came back but they bought him out from under me, but it's the principle of the matter. Also I've told her multiple times I would like him to be in the field right next to the barn if they sold her mare and he needed to be moved, but that field is clear on the other side of the farm. :mad: I told him all of this moving around is starting to effect him in a negative way, he is not the type of horse that can deal well with all of these changes. The boyfriend is the type that thinks the horse should just do whatever you say and have no emotion or reaction to anything, basically. Sorry, but I agree with Dylan! If my home life is constantly chaos, I am stressed and worried and get no relaxation. He said this would be the last move (HA! I'll believe that when I see it) and I went ahead and told him probably not, because I'm looking into moving him, anyway. I wasn't planning to tell them until I had signed the board contracts, but it got away from me. I also was nervous to tell my friend, but she said she understands, and I have to go where we are happy. She said if what I want is an arena horse, then I should keep him, but I won't be bringing him back there because she has no plans to build the arena like she said she would. So, I guess that's decided. I'm waiting on the contracts from the new place to sign, and then I'll have to figure out how to transport him.
 

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then I'll have to figure out how to transport him.
You're not anywhere near me, are you? (central Texas). I really feel for what you're going through and I could give him a ride.
 
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