Monday, April 25, 2016

Try and Fail. Repeat.

It's tempting to cherry pick good screenshots right now and pretend everything is rolling along fine, but it's not. Last week, my somewhat-icky rides progressed to "might as well not bother" levels of ick rides. I knew that Courage was WAY overdue for bodywork, so I just stopped riding until he could get an appointment.
but it is a pretty great screen shot
But that wasn't magic. Courage's body felt better, sure, but he was just.not.cooperating. Like. Forget recognized first level this year. We won't make it around training level at a schooling show right now. It's bad. Doesn't matter if I ride my butt off. Courage is not going to play.

And there's nothing like a series of shitty rides to make me feel like I'm just pouring money into a sewer because I don't like it weighing down my purse. I don't know if I can fix this. I especially don't know if I can fix it in time to make pouring $$$ into a recognized show next month worth it.

I do know that my best attribute with this horse is that I have a really good feel for what he needs in a given moment (not just arrogance--verbatim quote from a respected clinician regarding our partnership). Instead of feeling burned out by what looks like a disappointing failure to reach a goal of over a year, I choose to focus on the horse I have right now.
a magnificent unicorn
who learned how to move his back
by kicking the wall
and leaping off the ground
I'm pursuing some other avenues this week to see if I can find a root cause for the yucks or if Courage has decided just not to play for the present. In the interim, we're trying other stuff.
so cute amiright
You know. Like when it drops 40 degrees Fahrenheit and blows in a storm overnight, so I decide it's a great idea to start riding Courage in a hackmore with zero stopping power. Yes, on the same day I took all the leaping pictures. I'm not just crazy--I knew Courage needed some play time, and once he played, I just kinda knew he was going to be fine.

Which he was.

It was actually very interesting--Courage has been hollowing and inverting and fighting me with the bit. Take that away and after we got past his initial "um wtf lady" response, he was fine. Nose poked out like a hunter, yes, but poll a little below his wither with lots of licking and chewing. I let him worry about him and I focused on re-training myself to ride completely from my body (and turn right).

It wasn't magical either. We didn't even trot. But hey. I'm of the opinion that horse training is less rainbows and pixie dust and more wet saddle pads and putting in the time anyways.

That's where we're at. It's not pretty. It's not very good. It's definitely not linear.

But I'm enjoying having a horse I can hop on and do dumb stuff with on a cold spring day and not feel like I'm going to die. If the rest comes later, great.


  1. Courage does NOT sound like an easy horse. He is one of those sensitive snowflakes that is going demand that you ride better and be more innovative with your training than an average, more tolerant horse. That said, it sure looks like you are doing a great job with him. Just the progress of his pictures and muscle development is looking much more correct. I just think some horses demand a much more refined ride with near perfect rider bio-mechanics and some out of the box training methods. Going bridle less to work on your position, use of body as opposed to hand, and just get him to chill seems like a good first step.

  2. Training is such a MENTAL process for horse and rider. It's certainly not easy, and it's never linear. Cheers to you for listening to your horse and doing your best to work it out <3

  3. More wet saddle pads. Yes! But...I just keep having this thought, and I'm sure you have too. Is there anything physical going on with them? Besides needing an adjustment? Have you considered ulcers? I'm guessing you've already been down that worm hole. I don't meant to pry at all. Just throwin' it out there.

  4. I really wish your horse would stop making your life so hard. Whenever I'm down on him when you and I talk, it's because I hate to see you struggle so much unnecessarily not because I think you're doing something wrong.

  5. Courage seems like a really intelligent and playful horse, which.... can be really difficult if you want to get any work done. The hackamore could be something to play with more it seems!

  6. I am pretty sure you read Megan's blog and have probably seen her regression towards the mean post but it might be worth another read. I have it bookmarked to remind myself that periods of shitiness happen (sometimes more frequently than others). You guys will get there and he sounds like he is always going to have phases where he flips you the bird and says "Madame I decline to horse"

  7. Yep, riding is certainly not linear. Maybe Courage just needs something different - hacking out or a little jump school.

  8. Sorry to read you guys are in a rough patch. I hope courage snaps out of it.

  9. As long as you are willing to adjust your goals to his whims, then it will keep working. He has built up a great body and learned a ton with you, despite his being hard to horse.

  10. Everyone has rough patches. I spent literally months last year trying to get my mare off the 20 m circle at B without her bolting. Months. I was ready to tear my hair out.
    I wonder if the bit isn't working for him or he has a tooth problem?

  11. Rough spots happen. I wouldn't already be hanging up my hopes of showing recognized dressage this year over it. Give it some time to work itself out. Klein and I had a rough patch last year and it was 100% me that needed to up my game. I did and we're better than we have ever been. It took me going to that Grand Prix barn in Orlando for the weekend, some extra lessons, some clinics, and studying YouTube videos for hours of rides from some of my idols. My mental game was lacking as well and this book helped me A LOT. You should read it!

  12. In my experience often periods of time like this, where you want to tear all of your hair out, are nearly directly followed by periods of growth. Do what you and courage need right now in the moment and don't worry about deadlines, image, or the impression of others.

  13. When all else fails I like to just completely change the subject and enjoy the ride too. Hopefully Courage feels like playing along again asap!

  14. I'm in the same rut with Cosmo right now. He just doesn't want to cooperate with me. It's making me frustrated which leads to colorful language and not really any improvements in riding. Dude's just got my number right now.

  15. I am glad you posted this one! I believe we all go thru these times and doubt ourselves, our skills, our horse, etc. Many times I think it happens right before a good break thru.


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