Thursday, November 12, 2015

Why I Kept Him--Getting Through Hard Things Together

As most of you know, I am the first one to jump on somebody when they start saying things like "my horse is scaring me" or "this isn't fun". I have SOOOOO been there, I know what it's like, and I am a huge advocate for having fun with horses. If it's not fun, it needs to stop.

Which brings us around to these images:
spooking at grass sharks
not turning right
not getting on the trailer
just generally freaking the hell out
that one show where he tried to dump me in a lake

These time were not fun times, not even a little. They sucked. Most of them were this spring. I hate looking through pictures from this spring, so I threw in some sub-optimal fall shots to balance it out.
but why?
 All that, and yet I didn't sell his stupid bay ass him. What gives?

(Now in fairness: I tried to send him away, but there was a problem with the trailer and it didn't work out. I did not repeat trying to send him off.)

1. I was working closely with relevant professionals. 

To me, this is key. When I have questions about my ability as an adult ammy or my horse's suitability for me, I need advice from people who see this sort of thing all. day. long. Support from girlfriends is nice (and I have very horse savvy girlfriends), but at the end of the day, I need objective opinions.

This spring, I was working with three relevant instructors whose opinions I value. Two said "wait and see" and one said "oh hell you can do this. Get on."
we can always do this

2. I wasn't terrified.

This one is a bit harder to gut check just because until you've been terrified, it's hard to say what that's going to look like for you. As I previously had a terrifying horse, I can 100% tell you what that feels like. Courage's antics weren't fun for me. I was furious with him, deeply disappointed, hurt, whatever you want to say. I certainly didn't like bolting sideways and not getting on trailers, but those things don't give me that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach the way say, rearing as high as you can on the edge of a cliff in the mountains did. And no, you don't want to try that one. It's worse than it sounds.

and i know how to use a martingale
3. I had a support system that believed in us. 

Here's where those girlfriends come in. (And the fact that they're horse savvy matters). Redheadlins and Alyssa have actually known Courage longer than I have. Actually, I think Alyssa has known him longer than she's known me. Crazy world. Anyways. They both knew his brain and my abilities, and while they were clear that no one was mad if I wanted to move on, they thought I could do it.

never underestimate your gameday photoshoot
4. He's too damn cute.

I always tell people that I have to have attractive horses so that on the inevitable day when I want to shoot them (hey, this is Idaho), there is a reason that I don't.

I'm not kidding.

If some ugly POS horse pulled all the stunts that Courage did this spring, it would have been gone. Courage has a cute face coupled with a HOT DAMN styled body, which reminded me that there was a reason to keep pushing on.

Those reasons were enough for me to stick it out, but I also made a plan and stuck to it. I decided what my goals were with Courage and I worked to pursue those goals every single day--everything from "jump without fear over whatever I want" to "hack on the buckle around the farm". I think I set a timeline for Courage, too--the usual "if I'm not having fun by X date" sort of thing.
first clear jump round
first time real dressage ribbons
first championship
 I don't remember what date I set anymore. Courage and I got out there and did stuff together and even though it was rough going at first (yes, we did get 120 time penalties in our first event derby along with two refusals), we pushed through.

I'll be the first to admit that I form bonds with people or animals slowly and with my eyes open. Courage and I have had a lot of ups and downs, but I am so glad I have this little guy in my life. I had to make good choices and live through a lot of not-fun things this spring. Now we've come out on the other side and I have a really cool, really attractive little bay horse who works for me.

I know we'll have more rough patches--that's life with horses--but I'm confident we can deal with them. Together.


  1. Yep, this is me right now. Thanks for sharing your insights (especially since no you're on the other side, where the grass in greener).

  2. Love this! You handled your rough patch in such a smart, classy way that I think is so admirable.

  3. Yay, I love this. Your partnership has been fun to watch form.

  4. Sometimes you just know it'll be worth it in the long run :)

  5. Pongo's spotted cuteness has gotten him out of the glue factory on a handful of occasions as well. It's fun to see you guys succeed!

  6. I love this.
    Sadly I'm not able to have trainers or take lessons at this moment but I do have some super horse savvy people in my life who have trained before or have had horses/been riding for years and years, so that's nice. And I have a good handful of supportive friends who get on me any time I am tempted to give up. I had the same type of feelings over my cute bay around the time you were having issues with Courage and reading your posts and seeing how you have gotten through things and worked it out has really encouraged me. :)

  7. I can so understand this. I tell Copper constantly that it is a good thing he's so dang cute.

  8. through every step of this journey - particularly this spring, but even before then too - i have so admired your reasoning and logical methodical approaches to why you do what you do with the horse, and what you need back from him to make it count for you. you've given him every chance to succeed, and didn't delude yourself when things were troubled. and in this case, it seems to be paying off big time :D

  9. Thank you. I needed to read this today. I too have set a bit of a deadline for myself, and I need to keep to it. Fingers crossed my ending turns out as well as yours and Courage's!

  10. Woo, man. Bobby would be gone five years ago if I'd ever attached #4 to him!

    1. He's cute in his own moose-like way.

      But yeah, I probably couldn't do it. ;-)

  11. You guys have come a Looong way in a relatively short time.

    I know what you mean about being scared on a particular horse. There was one filly a long time ago that I refused to throw a leg over at. all. ever! I have ridden some batshit horses, but this one took the cake. I had seen her do some scary, crazy shit and wasn't going there. I told the trainer to fire me if he wants, but I will. not. ever. ride this horse. She did crazy shit on the ground too, but that I could handle and it didn't bother me.

    My current WB mare does things I don't like sometimes, but not once has she ever scared me to the point I won't get back on her.

  12. <3 <3 <3

    More hard times will come, and you will despair, but I promise you'll look back and say "we've done it before. We'll do it again." And most of the time, that's all it takes.

    ... Oh. And patience. Shitloads of patience.

  13. Aw ... how sweet. :0) Horses will definitely challenge your every boundary (financial/emotional/safety).

  14. Glad you made the right decision! It is sooo personal and it is definitely important to have a good support group you can trust. In the end, I think we all know in our gut what the right decision is. I have been there!

  15. You were there for me when I was going through "terrified" moments with my horse. It really helped me to take a step back and figure out how to move forward. For me, it was to slow down and set smaller goals while I built up a safe relationship with my horse. Thank you for your help at that difficult time! I am so glad you are getting there with Courage. Some horses are so worth it!


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