Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Disappointment. Tears. That Stuff.

empty barn
This is going to sound overly angsty and it is.

And I'm not apologizing for that today.

Yesterday was clinic time. I had the day planned down to the minute, including an hour+ of wiggle room for "unforeseen adventures while hauling". I've been stressing about this clinic for two weeks, but once it was a concrete thing and not just on an amorphous horizon, I felt really good. I was excited. I was ready.

And Courage wouldn't get on the trailer for love or money. I thought I'd been embarrassed by a horse in every possible way--I mean, even if he bucked me off and took himself on a tour of the dressage barn with AK watched, well, it wouldn't be the first time that had happened to me in public.

We used every bit of my hour of wiggle time. We used more. I had to call the host and tell her we weren't coming because Courage would.not. get. on. the damn trailer.

Yeah, my horse who's loaded and hauled across the western states his entire life? The one I can take places by myself because he's so easy?

a turning right day?
It was not his day.

Not our day.

About halfway through what would have been my clinic time, we had him standing quietly on the trailer with the back door open. We didn't even try to close it. He was completely lathered. (And when I say "we", I mean Alyssa did most of it because she was least emotionally invested and very good at groundwork.)

He's not an easy horse and why he picked yesterday to make a difficult day, I'll never know. He probably doesn't know. I know we put the horse first. That's why it turned into trailer loading day instead of "just jam him in, slam the door, and go day".

I'm angry and disappointed and confused.

Is cute enough?
To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure why I'm doing this.

I'm seriously considering selling him and buying some sort of ranch broke thing that gets on trailers and turns right reliably. It isn't rocket science.

Horses are supposed to be fun for me, but he's been a challenge every step of the way. Thoroughbreds are notorious for how hard they work for you, but he... doesn't? I don't know.

Is this even worth it? Tell me we're going to turn a corner or send me ads for my damned ranch horse. (NO MARES). 

PS The only positive lesson I can take out of this is that maybe we aren't meant to do dressage. Mounted shooting, here we come?

50 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry that this happened. Horses always seem to pick the worse times to act up. I don't really have any answers for you, but I know you're big on having fun and owning the right horse for you (I've been reading for forever!), so I'm sure you've already contemplated the big questions. Just take a deep breath and a moment to think about just how far you and Courage have already come, and all of the good times you have had.

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  2. Oh boy - so sorry Courage picked yesterday to be a total pill for you. Take a few days to calm yourself - do something just for you...something fun...have several adult beverages. Thinking of you!

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  3. I second adult beverages. Here to enable all the adult beverages!

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    1. Word. Have one or five for your preggo blog friend who needed one bad on Sunday!

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  4. I'm so sorry he wasn't cooperative, like you said, just wasn't his day. I know you'll make the best decision for you both but...with that said a good horse takes time and yes you can buy ones that are less spooky or more made but you are doing an awesome job with him. Trust me, ask my husband, I too was talking about letting Pongo go run free in the hills of Mount Diablo on Sunday when he took forever to load up and ran away from me twice! And quite honestly yesterday when he was being a looky loo at his new barn. Aint nobody got time for that stuff, it's not fun! But sometimes, that's just horses. Hugs!

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  5. You're entitled to some angst! What a frustrating experience. I don't think you should make any rash decisions out of anger/frustration, and truly, ANY horse occasionally makes us crazy, but maybe in the long run he isn't the horse for you.

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  6. Ugh. I'm sorry. That is beyond frustrating!!! I'm totally with you on horses being fun....perhaps you should set a timeline again to see if you can turn a corner with him? If not, I've got an adorable Quarab I'll sell you next spring. :)

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  7. I'm just convinced at this point that horses love making liars out of us. And showing us up just when we think we've got their number. Last weekend, my trainer and I had a trailering incident not with Riley, but with a few sale horses which resulted in a bent chest bar, a very scratched up horse, two lathered, fire-eating dragons that I had to fly like kites while she showed the other to a very important client, two lose horses on separate properties and 99% of my nerves SHOT. I had very similar thoughts going through my head, and after it was all said and done, I didn't have the willpower to get on my own horse because the experience had me so fried.

    Maybe you need a small break, or a step back, or just a nice relaxing ride (even on someone else) to recharge your batteries. I would have been in tears if I were in your shoes, but I also don't think I have as much patience as you and it's admirable that you didn't completely lose your cool:)

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  8. I'm really sorry :( We can chat about it when you feel like, because there's more to say than in a blog comment.

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  9. Ugh, I'm so sorry. :( You've done amazing work with him and only you can know what's best. Go with your gut, it's typically right. But everyone has off days, maybe this was just one of them. :) Without off days, we can't improve.

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  10. Horses do this... I'm sorry Courage picked an important day to be an idiot about loading. But you are a sensible person, and once you take a step back and are able to come down from the emotional wreckage of what happened, I know you'll make the right choice for both of you. Big hugs.

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  11. I had one of the worst loaders in the world when I was a kid. Don't beat yourself up! I'm so sorry to hear that you didn't make it to the clinic :(

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  12. Oh MAN all I can tell you is I have been there AND IT'S THE G_D_MN F_CK_NG worst! My horse who walks on the trailer every single freakin time I have either nowhere special to be or somewhere really important to be, at certain disastrous points in his life has done this to me and I have contemplated turning him loose on the highway to fend for himself, or teaching him to pull a cart so HE can ship ME places, or making him LIVE in the trailer. Horses are morons sometimes, there's no rhyme or reason to them. I'm sorry yesterday turned into Trailer Loading 101 instead of dressage clinic day. But think it through before you give up on him, don't forget there have also been days where he surprises you in a good way.

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  13. What a disappointing day. I'm sorry. Sometimes they pick the absolute worst moments to misbehave! You are going to think that I am crazy for saying this, but have you ever tried having a conversation with him? I had about a year and a half of tough, frustrating rides with my mare and one day I finally just sat down in the paddock with her and told her that I was done. That if she wanted to go back to her former owner she could but she had to let me know before we moved (from Texas). I told her how frustrated I was and that I didn't want to maintain the partnership if she didn't want any part of it. Wouldn't you know, she kind of sighed a little, dropped her head in my lap and I got a picture in my head that she wanted it to work too but she didn't understand what I was asking sometimes or didn't like the way that I asked. So we've been working through it. It's been a long, slow process but there has been progress. I know I sound crazy, but even if you don't get anything from him, maybe you will have more clarity for yourself just by talking it through out loud. I'd hate to see you and Courage part ways because you look like such a great team, but you have to be happy and it has to be fun or it's just not worth it.

    Thinking good thoughts for you two!

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  14. Really sorry. I think only you can know if its worth it though. FWIW, I've been reading your blog since you got him and sure it has been slow progress but its been progress. He doesn't seem scary or mean, just maybe a little mischievous. I feel like he's the type of horse who takes awhile to mature, but when he does you will have something pretty amazing on your hands. You just have to decide if you want to wait it out that long.

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  15. I love Courage. I love him A LOT. I love reading about your journey with him, your patience (your ever-god-loving patience that has lasted longer than any reasonable human's patience level), your progress, and your struggles. And I totally want you to get through this because you guys are kinda the MerDer of my horsey life.

    But if you want, I'll just be over here on DreamHorse hangin' out.... I spend half my time there anyway these days, why not some more?

    Happy thoughts.

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  16. Nothing insightful to add, just wanted to say I'm sorry you missed your clinic.

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  17. Oh friend. Yesterday was not what I was expecting, but any horse can have off days. Even dumb off days. Even the good old ranch horse. Papa likes to test the waters, but I would not be surprised at all if you guys work through his shenanigans and continue to have moments of brilliance and fun.

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  18. What a crappy way to make the day go. Glad you are seeing the positive, who knows why horses suddenly decide to say no. I hope you had a bottle of wine or two to help end the day on a better note.

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  19. I would have been calling that bastard every 4-letter word in the book.

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  20. I feel so bad for you. They always pick the worst times to pull stunts like that. It took a really long time to be able to load and unload Beefs by myself and can completely relate to how frustrating it is. Sending hugs.

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  21. I'm so sorry that happened. Thoroughbreds are wonderful but I've been there with a thoroughbred who doesn't want to work for you or with you and that's the worst. *Hugs* I know you'll do the right thing for you.

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  22. Blurrrrrrrgh I'm so sorry. "Thoroughbreds are notorious for how hard they work for you, but he... doesn't?" I have had this exact thought about Eliot so, so many times. The difference being that E was never track trained, which I think helps instill a work ethic in the vast majority of the TBs.

    FWIW, you have made a ton of progress with him. As in, I read all his posts backwards so the last thing I saw was gangly little racetrack Courage, and then I saw a recent post and I was like OH chunked out dressage pony I want. Also, keep in mind that once you pass the green as grass stage with milestones like "oh wow today we didn't spook at that thing!", progress can seem a lot slower because you're working towards bigger goals, not every tiny little thing.

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  23. I am so sorry. I would feel the same way. I know it sucks, but I think you are the only one who can decide enough is enough. I have been there. I know you have been there before. I would get annoyed when people would tell me to hang in there with my old horse Savvy. Looking back, I was annoyed because I honestly was looking for permission to move on. I finally reached that good decision on my own. I would say give it a few niece weeks so that you can give the loading incident some perspective (in isolation it isn't a big deal) and then decide if on whole what you want to do. It isn't easy, I know!!

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  24. What a turd. But I have also said the exact opposite about him, so he's got the good stuff in him too. It's totally your call, your gut, your feelings that you need to listen too. Give your self some time to calm down and take a breather. I'm sorry you had such a supremely crappy day.

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  25. Shit happens. Remember two weeks ago when my kid's dead broke pony that she rides bareback all over the farm launched me and made me cry? He got over it. I got over it. It was a bad day. Everybody is entitled to have a bad day. I know I've thrown temper tantrums that would put any horse to shame, so I don't begrudge them a tantrum now and then. You've come a long way with Courage, but you have to remember that he is still very green. It takes many years to produce a solid, trained horse. As Podhajsky said, "'I have time' should be the guiding word especially of dressage riders during the entire course of training and remind him of the fact that the goal of the classical art of riding is to be attained only by the gradual increase of demands."

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  26. I'm so proud of you because you are a truly excellent horsewoman. And you know I think the world of Courage, even though right now I want to punch him for doing that to you.

    You are allowed to sell him if you want, and you're allowed to keep him and get through this corner if you want. It's your call, and there's no time limit on it, and you know I will be RIGHT HERE to support whatever you do and help in any way I can.

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  27. *hugs*

    You have got some great advice here. We support you fully no matter what you decide to do -- even if you want to give up horses and take up knitting (don't go there, I tried it, its harder than riding).

    You are awesome, and honest and will take some time and get some perspective. Horses are wonderful and maddening and the best and the worst. Sometimes we love them, sometimes we want to open the barn door and look the other way :)

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  28. Merde! Oh Courage why?! How completely frustrating and disappointing. Sending you hugs.

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  29. Ugh, totally crushed for you! I hope things start going a lot smoother for you two no matter what direction you decide to go in!

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  30. oh man... i can't even imagine what you must be feeling right now - i am just so so sorry that you're feeling it! we're supposed to enjoy the journey and all that warm fuzzy stuff... but there are some places i'd really rather not go, ya know? good luck :(

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  31. Hugs. That's all I've got, but if you need anything, I'm here. :)

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  32. That's the worst. I completely feel for you. You've worked through so much, it seems to me like you might just be on the verge of turning a corner, so I would suggest you drink some wine, take a few days off, and re-group. Try and think about the good stuff. It always seems to get worst right before it gets better.

    If it helps..they all do stupid things no matter how well trained. For instance, Gentry and Hugo decided to be morons yesterday and gallop away from me while I fly sprayed them....despite having buckets of grain in front of them. I mean, WTF? The geniuses decided to gallop away, then gallop all over the property, get more sweaty, and attract more flies. I walked away and drank some wine. it helped.

    Anyway, worst case scenario though...I have a space in my pasture for one more cute gelding...;)

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  33. I don't feel like I have been following your blog for long enough to offer you any words of insight or advice - even if he's got a sticky right lead and a few quirks it seems that you've done some wonderful work with him and have a great relationship. Go back and look at those progression posts. I think you have said it yourself that progress is slow...but it does happen. And those little bits of progress are actually where I find the fun in riding, but that's just how I am.

    Last fall I was getting ready to go to an event and my horse decided that she wanted no part of getting on the trailer that day. I did get her on eventually, but I'm ashamed to admit that I sort of lost m cool in the process. We were late for dressage and the mood that we were both in really put a damper on the rest of the day. It really is the worst feeling ever when something like this happens and I'm so so sorry...

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  34. I think most people that read your blog wouldn't judge you badly if you decided to sell Courage for a horse that maybe lines up better with where you are at. But don't do it because of one trailering incident. My mare lost her sh@! The last time we trailered to a show. But we did jam her in and when we went to leave show we switched trailer mates and she was fine. Like stupid, pro fine.

    Give yourself some time, wine, and introspection before you sell. I've had plenty of talks with the trainer over what I could sell my mare for and what else I could get after bad lessons. Then I ride other horses and realize she's not so bad. They all have quirks.

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  35. Ugh! Feel your pain! Whatever you decide to do will be the best thing for you

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  36. I follow your blog and am so sorry you had a bad day. I had a similarly frustrating experience yesterday. 2/3 of my arena time and dressage lesson was spent teaching my 9yo, supposedly dead broke tiny (14:2) welsh cob mare I have owned for the ee years that she will walk down the barn aisle with me to put money in the lights even if it means walking past the wash bay. She will also enter wash bay and tie up stalls. She will not run backwards. She will not barge into me or bite me. After my 20 minutes of lesson she refused to do it again. We got it happening but really mare. Today I feel like a talentless failure of a horse owner. Add to this that some idiot had left a hanging feed bin next to the tie ups and she then got the metal hook through her halter buckle, cue panic. Once she realised she couldn't escape she stood until I could pull her off that sucker but it was all around awful. Good on you for putting the horse first and sorting the issue.

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  37. TB's are smart and have tremendous stamina. Makes them great sport horses and real challenges when they disagree. Kenny Harlow is a John Lyons trainer who taught my boy to load up on his own in less than 20 minutes. Wish he were out your way. I'm sure you could find someone who could do a trailer loading lesson for you, though.

    So sorry you missed that clinic. I was looking forward to hearing all about it too.

    Don't know what to tell you about Courage. If he doesn't scare you with his shenanigans, then he's well worth the effort. TB's will give their hearts to you once they form a real partnership. The hard part is winning them over. They need to respect you, and will, provided you respect them in return.

    Wishing you well. Courage really is a lovely horse. I'd hate to see you give up on him. He really is "young " in his training and I know it seems really slow sometimes, but when things click, he's a really special boy.

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  38. WTF Courage. Way to be a motherfuckin' dickwad. Damn. Courage my ass, more like "Lack of Courage." Dear horse. Man the F up. Do the things. Stop being dramatic.

    Dear Aimee, don't ever let our horses talk to each other. They'll trade secrets and we'll both be fucked forever.

    You'll turn right. Someday. On that day, angels will sing, the clouds will part, and you'll decide Courage is the best freaking horse on the planet. The next day? You won't be able to turn left.

    My only advice? Remember those really great days. Really savor the shit out of them, because the bad days are extremely freaking terrible. I almost sold/retired Pig, though I'm glad I didn't now. That moment between 1st-2nd for us was really terrible and hard and angsty and I cried sometimes and called my horse "stupid fucking asshole" a lot. Once I told him he wasn't "fancy enough to be such a goddamned prissy bitch". True confessions. Right here. Tough horses are not unicorns. They do not fart rainbows.

    P.S. I hear dude ranch type cow horses look dumb in English tack.

    ... I'd apologize for the language, but too tired.
    DISCLAIMER: This post brought to you by Austen's sleep-deprived profanity brain. Profanity Brain: It's good for bad days, and bad for children!

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    1. Lol amen to this!! One day my horse couldn't go forward, the next day he learned, then couldn't stop bolting bucking. Right now we've seemed to find a happy medium, but I'm sure something else will come up sooner or later. Love this comment though. Totes okay to be frustrated.

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  39. honestly - if it was me finding my project horse this frustrating to work with as you seem to find him, I'd be selling him. You've done a lot of good things with him, but it doesn't seem like it is fun or enjoyable for you. He's got a great start and will possibly go on to do really well for someone else.
    The thing is that sometimes for various reasons we just don't get along that well with some horses. They may sound perfect on paper, but if it just doesn't work, it doesn't work. It's kinda like that ex-boyfriend that everyone thought was perfect and you made a lovely couple but "it" just wasn't there!

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  40. I'm so sorry this happened and you missed the clinic.

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  41. Ugh!! Sorry you had a rough day with Courage!! And missed your much awaited and anticipated clinic :(

    You have got some great advice here :)

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  42. Oh wow. That sucks majorly!! :-(
    In my experience, there's a reason why horses drop us at the worst possible moment. It's usually because we accidentally dropped them. Maybe he felt the pressure and just shut down - my TB is pretty darn good at that particular nasty trick.
    I know selling Izzy and getting dear Cuna was one of the best things you ever did for you. I also know that if I sold my difficult thoroughbred, I would regret it for the rest of my life; but if I keep him and we get through this, I will be happy about it for the rest of my life. It's your horse and it's your call - it's up to you to decide whether that achievement of having ridden the tough horse through it all is actually worth the fight.

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  43. I'm sorry Aimee!!! I've been there with Klein just decided one day she wasn't going to load. Klein, the horse that has WENT TO HAWAII AND BACK with me and shipped COAST TO COAST on the continental United States. There is just no telling what gets in their heads on these days. Even your ranch broke dream pony could decided one day "You know what, f this trailer." You just can never tell!! Klein had a fit one day and after 45 mins she got on the trailer and we made it to our lesson, but I made her load no less than 17 times when we got home and you know what? She was great. Why she felt the need to be a shit that morning, I have no clue. But, it is seriously frustrating. I'm sorry he was being such a punk for you!! We have all been there at one point or another with a horse that's had a fit about loading.

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  44. This won't make you feel better but my dad always tells me when things like this happen- maybe the universe was looking out for you. Had you gone, maybe you or courage would've been in an accident. Maybe a wreck. So there may be nothing to it, but whenever things don't go my way for no apparent reason I try to remember this because it makes me feel better even if it's not true :)

    (For instance, one day I decided to go the slightly long route to the highway for no other reason than I had a feeling. When I got to the highway I was stuck in traffic for hours because of a fatal crash that had occurred minutes in front of me. Had I taken the shorter route... Who knows!)

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