Monday, September 29, 2014

Disillusioned

photo by horselessinhalifax
Don't take my ridiculously emo title too seriously. I'm sitting at my computer sipping a screwdriver (best.drink.ever.), listening to the rain outside with a snuggly puppy on my lap. Life is good and I'm not complaining.

Noted: I am writing this on Sunday night, so it's not like I'm some Monday-morning-boozeaholic. Everyone knows the only thing you can drink in the morning is mimosas. Or Bloody Marys, but I'm not into those.

Anyways.

Everyone needs puppy bath spam
Courage threw a shoe on Wednesday and I haven't sat on him since. He's supposed to get completely reshod on Monday and that's all fine and dandy and the time off is probably good for him. It's definitely good for me. Not only do I get more puppy cuddle time, but also I get to think about what exactly I'm doing and where I'm going with Courage.

And the truth is, I don't know. I know I don't have enough knowledge to bring him along on my own, but I also know that a show situation is all wrong for us. Show people have show goals that are more important to them than the slow, steady upbringing of a horse. That's all well and good if you have a horse that's a little thick and takes pressure well, but if you have a Courage, it's a recipe for disaster. Just because he can jump a big fence doesn't mean he should.

Don't want to ruin this face
If anything, it means that he should jump less of them until he's got a solid grasp of the flatwork and basics that he needs, because the temptation to just jump up will be too much. It's not that big jumps are bad. It's that if he doesn't have the strength and balance to jump them correctly, he can't handle the pressure and we start taking mighty metaphoical leaps backwards.













photo by horselessinhalifax
And maybe I just sound like a whiny ammy babying my precious pookykins. But you know what? 1) If I am, that's my prerogative and 2) Not every horse person in the world is ramming and jamming horses up the levels. I'd venture to say that the better ones don't.

I know all that.

I just feel kind of alone in knowing it. At this moment, there isn't a trainer I trust with Courage's development. (excluding S. She is awesome and I love her, but she doesn't exactly train full time due to the "real person job" thing". I feel desperately alone with no way to fix it. I know I'm not the be all and end all and I know I don't want my horse ruined by going too fast or by me putzing around and messing things up.

I've seen what that does to horses (haven't we all) and I want no part in it.

Maybe we will master standing still.
So yes, I will continue to plunk along mostly by myself and not rush and I know we'll get somewhere eventually. It just absolutely kills the perfectionist side in me to feel like I'm not progressing and training my horse the way I think I could with more oversight. I want the ability to move him forward confidently.

I want it and I can't have it. It's out of reach.

It makes me want to say "**** it" (you're welcome kids. you win this round) and just take up western. Or pull his shoes and give him the winter off. Or almost anything other than keep hacking away at something I know I can't master on my own. Is that so very unreasonable?

29 comments:

  1. I have no great advice, but just know that you're definitely not alone with any of the things you're feeling. I don't currently own a horse (I lease) and sometimes I think I should give up on horses and learn to play tennis. But then I remember I lack hand/eye coordination...

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  2. I understand where you're coming from. I went too far too fast with Fiction and now I'm paying for it. So I'm backing off, probably going to pull his shoes, and start over/take it slow. I'm facing quite a bit of criticism from people in my life for this - people who think it is dumb when my horse is clearly capable of moving up levels right now. They don't seem to understand that I will -not- move up until I feel he is ready, and right now he's not. Like you said - just because he can jump big jumps, doesn't mean he should. You're not alone. Just ignore those inner voices (it's hard, it really really is) and go with your gut. If you start feeling crappy take a big break. It will put things back into perspective and you'll feel refreshed when you do come back.

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  3. Screwdrivers are a perfectly acceptable breakfast beverage. I might just go make myself one after I finish my coffee ;)

    People ask me all the time what I'm doing with my 4 year old, as if he's on some sort of time table. I tell them the honest truth: I am snuggling him, teaching him how to drink out of a wine glass and sometimes I ride him. He's not going to be doing the FEI 5 and 6 year old classes, nor will he be doing the PSG at 7. I don't do that to horses. Spider may do the PSG next year at 19 years old, or he may not. What difference does it make? My horses aren't here to win me ribbons and impress my peers, they're here to give me snuggles, entertain me and share my drinks. Enjoy Courage, and don't worry about the rail birds.

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  4. I am of the mindset that "slow is smooth and smooth is fast" for both horses and riders. My trainer also subscribes to this philosophy and while it means I'm not moving up the levels as fast as my peers, I know I'm having a great time and doing it this way is what works best for me.

    After all, isn't this our hobby, as working adult amateurs? It should be first and foremost fun so I say do what you want at the speed you want. It's the journey you'll remember anyways

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  5. I had a bloody Mary at 8pm on Wednesday with pizza, so I wouldn't have looked at you sideways if you were drinking a screwdriver right now!

    I consider myself a progress person instead of a show person, which is why I've been able to both take it slow and show. We make progress, then we prove that we've made progress every so often at a show. The show fits the progress we've made, no matter how slow that is, not the other way around.

    It's weighing on my mind after this weekend, because if he keeps doing well at BN people will tell me to move him up, but you know what, until he is safely and reliably jumping the fences, (and he's not, he's just athletic to cover his own ass at smaller fences), he is not ready to move up. My schedule, not the show world's. We'll smurf around at BN for five years if we have to.

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  6. We jump horses over sticks for fun. If you're having fun dinking around, jumping little jumps, and building your confidence, then you my friend have found success! If and when you're ready to show, you'll show. But it's not going to be fun and it's not going to be good for you or for Courage until you're both confident and ready. We ride because the relationship we can have with our horses is unlike anything else in the world. Enjoy the journey!

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  7. I think you are very smart to put your horse first. Before big sticks or show goals. Scope will be there but what is the point to jump big if he needs work on the rest. I see way too many people who think only the jump matters and I heartily disagree with that. It is everything in between as well.

    It is also hard to find the right coach,mentor,trainer,etc. Location can be limiting. But I think you are ahead by realizing what you want and what you have to deal with. You don't have to settle but you may have to compromise.

    Snuggle a pup and keep putting C first:)

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  8. People get too caught up with timetables. The fact is your not trying to sell him or do young horse classes. I know that showing is the ultimate goal, but you'll get there and when you do it will be fun because you and Courage will be ready for it. It's no fun when you push yourself or your horse beyond what you are comfortable with just to get to a damn show. Just enjoy your horse and take whatever time you need to get where you want. It's a lot harder to ignore timetables than it is to give in to the pressure of them. You're a better horseman because of being able to.

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  9. You are doing just fine! Totally kick back with a screw driver. Nothing like a tasty glass of perspective. :-) I got too caught up in timetables with Rose. In the end it was worth it, since i had to sell her, and she would not have been as sellable had I not gotten her as far as I did. My favorite memories of her are not showing though, but when we would go on quiet trail rides after a ride. I wish we had done more of that. So this time around, I'm just enjoying my horse. No shoes (if needed) until spring, no real training at the moment. Just walking around the property once a week is good enough. Eventually I will have more time to really train and show again, but for now we are just chill-axing, getting to know and trust each other, and I am loving it. And you, my dear, have been one of my biggest inspirations for my mind shift! So just enjoy your boy and don't worry about the Jones's.

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  10. You and Courage are such a good fit watching out for each other. He has no showing timetable in his mind so you should feel no pressure. He likes to be the best at things and so do you, so just work on that. The best at leg yielding one day, turns on the haunches the next, etc. I love dressage and flat work and if that is what the horse needs then make goals for each step of the way. Occasional jumping when the fancy strikes will keep things fun, and if the fancy doesn't strike don't beat yourself up. Maybe hacks around the field and trail rides are the goal, that is great too. Don't worry about the goals of others and work to find what makes you happy and your partnership with Courage happy. Diva and I are walking around on the bit with halts and leg yields, might sound boring, but we are totally happy with each other and that is really all that matters. Love and hugs for you two.

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  11. Definitely not alone! Had a very similar conversation with a friend last night ( but sadly, no screwdrivers or alcohol of any kind was involved :)

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  12. I had the same exact issue with Sid...wanted/needed professional help, but I had a hell of a time finding a professional I thought would do more good than harm. It can be frustrating to have such a talented horse sometimes. All I can say is, I did end up taking Sid to trainers "outside" our chosen discipline of dressage when I needed help...good training is good training. Maybe one of the western trainers can help you! Hang in there!

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  13. I feel for you! I sometimes feel like if I were actively showing or at least in lessons, I could avoid this place of always questioning what I am doing. It is like swinging on a pendulum of working super hard at progress with my mare, and then stepping back and wondering why the hell am I putting so much pressure on us both? Every once in a while (about once a month actually, lol) I have to remind myself that there is no time frame here and I can slow down and enjoy my pony, make training good for both us, relax and remember this is supposed to be fun!!

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  14. I am all about doing things right the first time, even if it takes time. I've had B for 3 years and I just did my first real show. And yes, he would've been fine going around a 2' course, by why push it? And honestly, I've been trail riding a lot and enjoy it much more than getting stuck at a trailer hurrying up and waiting for my next class. When you guys will get there, you'll get there. Don't rush it, you guys have SUCH a good thing going.

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  15. It is hard having goals without the reasonable means of achieving them (like a trainer). Like Redheadlins said, may need to come up with different goals that you can achieve by yourself without feeling like you're overly pressuring him, which will give him a better foundation for whatever comes his way later on. I taught Hemie to do trail class obstacles, neck rein, etc. Makes them more well rounded overall.

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  16. I know you're a little in limbo right now and figuring out what to do, and I have definitely been there too. It's a hard and pretty frustrating place to be.

    There is a heavy assumption in this post that show people are putting showing over the training and happiness of their horse. While that can be true, it's usually not. Going slow and steady can happen WHILE you show.

    I hope you can find a trainer that you can trust and work with. You work hard and I know you love Courage and want what's best for him, but there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. It just takes a firm action plan and a program to get there.

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  17. Slow and steady wins the race! You're not alone (I've also thought about some Western Pleasure)!

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    1. I agree with Emily here, 100% Western Dressage, anyone? anyone? Always remember too, comparison is the thief of joy. Our big achievement this year...I taught Pongo how to bow down on one knee for carrots. Yup, that about sums up our 2014. LOL!

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  18. I am so impressed with everyones feedback on your post!
    Such insightful people! So, for this mom, all I want to say, is that I think you are right where you need to be, and quit overthinking things. (((HUGS))) see you soon <3

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  19. Your blog is probably one of my favorites because you take things slow and don't rush you or your horse. It's honestly helped me remember to slow down a lot, even though I'm not showing or taking lessons, it's such a good reminder. I'm attempting to find a good trainer as well and it sucks, I hope you can find one that works well with everyone involved soon! And hey, when in doubt, plop a western saddle on his back for fun. ;)

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  20. Do what makes you happy - and safe and healthy. And what makes Courage safe and healthy.

    Who cares about time lines. Who cares about showing or not showing. Showing when you are not exactly ready if it's simply enough can help with learning curves. Not showing doesn't mean anything. Just make sure whatever your choice is - it is doing what makes you both happy.

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  21. I'm experiencing something similar with Licorice. I moved barns so that I'm no longer in a show barn with a training environment. My first reaction was to freak out and think about how I have no idea what I'm doing. Then I re-read some of my old horse books (True Art of Horsemanship by Tom Dorrance...not an easy read, but he reminds you that ANYONE can LEARN) and I decided to go back and do what I thought was right. So, Licorice and I are starting over. And I will make mistakes because in order to get better, you MUST make mistakes. You won't ruin Courage, you two will just learn together. Horses don't give a flying eff about showing or doing it *right*, they care about the relationship with you. If you keep working on that, you will learn as you go about the other things. You have lots of resources in the way of books, videos and people. I think you're probably better at this than you think and this is just a momentary lapse. :)

    Also, YES FOR WESTERN! I just borrowed a Western Wintec saddle from a friend and though I can't ride right now due to a back injury, as soon as I can get back in the saddle I'm going to just dink around and get to know Licorice better without the pressure of a specific discipline.

    I would highly recommend reading some books by Tom Dorrance and Mark Rashid if you haven't already. They are GREAT reminders about our relationships with horses and aren't discipline specific.

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  22. I swear, Courage and my Magic are twins separated at birth. Magic is just the grey version of Courage. I'm an aspiring pro/apprentice pro/that weird chick that breaks in baby horses to get enough cash to spend on her own baby horses, and I feel lost at sea when it comes to Magic. He's my big time horse, the horse that could go somewhere, the A-grade horse in the making, and the two of us have to take it slow all the time because we're both a little frightened and a little in love with each other. I might be able to kick the baby natives into the show ring and they're fine and dandy apart from not having the talent to ever jump more than 3', but with my 5' horse? We're just pluggin' at home, chipping away at 2' jumps and building trust. Hard to learn, but essential!

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  23. It really depends on what you and your horse are up to. Holly could easily show in the 3's she gets better with height, me maybe someday, but not soon lol. Courage isn't super young but being OTT, he's behind on learning all that fun flatwork that is so vital. So going slow and careful is a great idea. His stride is way too nice for WP, but nothing wrong with casual western riding. Or barrels ;
    Personally I budgeted in training as part of my purchase price and I lucked out on a trainer who has a good balance of pushing without breaking either of us. Our progress was a year of full training, now she can step back a bit and nail down details, then we can have some show fun next Season.

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  24. No matter how slow you go you can always be comforted by the fact that Steady and I go slower. Girl the OCD perfectionism ducks the fun out of it. You are SO young. Your horse us so young you have time. Just enjoy it and don't wish it away for something that someone else says is better. You WILL get there and when you do it will all be so much sweeter because you know did it. That Courage is who he is because you cared more about him than stupid human ideals. Then the day will come that all the people you felt looked at you funny because you "just weren't good enough" start asking you to be on their team at team event because they need your scores. Lol it will happen dear. It may be years down the road but it will. People will suddenly respect you. The same ones that mumbled when you or your horse had a full blown melt down, those people all the sudden start paying attention to you. Doing it right IS worth it no matter what the voices in your head say. Oh and the winter off may be just what both of you need to hit the reset button. I was terrified the first time I did it because all my hard work will be lost or forgotten. That's not true and it is such a great thing for him. Even the top horses get a couple months off a year.

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  25. Oh and as far as trainer goes i really hope you do find someone who will do right by you and courage. Surely there is the right one near by but it may not be easy to find. If you go to shoes to watch keep an eye out for riders who catch your eye. They may not be the winners but they do right by their horses. They do stand out. Then find out who they train with. Then see if you can sit in on some lessons to see if you think they are what you and courage need. This is how I scope out the trainers that I am willing to spend the very little hard earned money with. I don't have the budget to lesson with 10 different people to find the one I like. Trust my picky about a trainer is an under statement for me. There are probably 3 people I would spend my money to hear them yell ( i use this word fesceciously. They dont yell all the time ;)at
    me.

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  26. I know all too well what you're going through... and I aplaud you. I will admit that watching everyone go training this fall was kind of hard, because if training had gone "on track" I'd be there too. But I also have the satisfaction of knowing I'm not ruining my horse. That I'm letting him develop at his own pace. There was a time when I thought my trainer was kind of pushing me but I don't think she realized how bad the problem had gotten. When he blew up at the last show she saw it and agreed with me and my plan to take the fall off and just focus on reestablishing basics. Anyway, don't feel alone. Like you said, its your prerogative.

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  27. Every word of this applies to me and Chrome too! Well not the jumping lol. You're not alone. Trust me!

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