Baby Horse Blues

Baby Horse Blues

Green horses are not for the faint of heart. Often, my heart is faint. So, is the joke on me?

Tuesday I went out to hack, and my horse was just in a god awful mood. He was bad for the farrier. I pulled him out before feeding time (when I get there after work happens to always be feeding time), and gave him a snack of his dinner in the crossties. Usually that makes him happy because he feels like he got dinner, and then we can have a nice working session without me worrying about stressing his tummy out full of grain. But on Tuesday, Po was not to be fooled. He danced around so much in the crossties that I could barely get the saddle on. I had to growl at him the entire time.

I went to lunge (of course I lunged, I’m not stupid) and he kicked out at me first thing… which has never happened. There was some leaping and he tried to run away once, but I got him back down to civil levels and I hopped on to ride. At first, the ride was fine. A bit electric, but fine, but when we cantered he pretended to spook at the cows and took off dolphin leaping towards the in-gate. I was never in any danger of getting bucked off, but when I realized he was trying to run back to the barn I saw my death in my future with him splaying out on the gravel walk back to the barn and yanked my inside rein (felt like trainer would approve of its usage this time) to one-hand stop him.

To be blunt, it pissed me off. The rest of the ride we marched around the ring angry at each other. We ended on a good note, but I was rattled.

Trainer rode him the next day, and said he started reactive (that’s probably my fault) but ended well. She also did a light ride on him yesterday, and I had a lesson last night. When I got to the barn, I let him eat 1/2 his dinner in his stall, told myself I was not to harbor any feelings of resentment from the other day, and faked a good attitude to my horse. He was excellent, though tired, in our lesson. I continued to try and not use my inside rein, with an added bonus of hearing that I need to keep more weight in my outside leg at the canter…. a struggle going left, where I am apt to protect my bum right knee (the surgery knee that has never been the same). But it was a good lesson. My horse was good. I tried. I’m slowly getting more fit (so, so slowly). I’m trying to adjust to the new instruction and fix the many, many issues with my equitation.

So why am I a little down?

It’s not a rational feeling. It’ll pass. But I miss doing all the things.

I literally had a horse show nightmare last night where all of my friends were showing and doing great things on great horses, and I watched on the sidelines because my horse is still trotting at home. In the dream, someone lent me a loaner horse that got hurt at the last minute so I ran around the show asking if I could pay anyone to ride something for one 2’6″ division. No takers.

I woke up feeling bummed and disappointed, because it’s pretty much reality right now for me. Minus the begging for rides or money to lease. I won’t beg, and I can’t afford to lease something going while Po and I get trained together. Man, I wish I could! Alas, I’m fortunate to have the horse I have… grateful… blah blah blah.

Forgive me for sounding entitled and whiney. I’m being both. The truth is, I’ve had my horse for two years and I thought we’d be doing the things by now. We’re not for a variety of reasons. Some I had control over, many I didn’t at all. The fact is he needs what he’s getting now (we both do), and this is the correct path for a better longterm future. So I’m not upset about all the nuances of flatwork and careful training and re-training. I actually geek out on that stuff, and I already see the difference.

Miss this.

But I feel like I am stuck on an evergreen. Showing (and by showing, I mean me showing in an actual division not doing a hack class or going for exposure) feels just as far away as it did when I first bought him two years ago. Logically, I know this isn’t true. Logically, I know the slow path is the better path. If we skip things now, they will bite us in the future. Everything is happening as it should.

Dropping this here to remind myself that once upon a time I did the thing.

But I miss when I used to do things. I miss trying to win stuff. I miss cruising around a 2’6″ course confidently. I miss Simon. I miss, I miss, I miss.

This will pass. I know it will. But I’m going to pause, recognize the feeling. It is very hard to go from showing your heart horse successfully to a young baby that doesn’t know how to steer. And it’s a long and tiring process to try and get back to that place. Longer and harder than I thought it would be.

Now time to get back to fixing my inside rein dependencies.

13 thoughts on “Baby Horse Blues

  1. I know the feeling. I’m on a 10 year old greenbean (he had a slow start since he didn’t really have much before I got him and we don’t know where he was between the track in FL and the kill pen in PA — and his first adopter let him sit) and I’m doing pretty much all the training myself with the help of my trainer on the ground. It’s slow moving for one reason or another (ulcers, me being sick, broken trailer, trainer in FL, etc.) but he’s made a lot of progress. But, if he was in full training, he’d flying around 2’6″ w/ changes. But I’m fine where we are.

    That said, when you’re really down, do you ever consider taking a one off lesson (ie: less financial commitment) on a well schooled horse to pop over some real fences? Just to get on something not green and to remind you what you’re aiming for? It’s always been an option for me though I haven’t done it much since I’ve gotten Nay. But, it’s a good way when your confidence or motivation is low or if you’re just feeling frustrated.

  2. So glad you are blogging again, always love your articles on PH but nice to see you back on here. This post 100/100 resonates with me, I switched from hunters to dressage 3 years ago and constantly feel like I am never going to get anywhere with my horse in this discipline. I think Poet looks fantastic and you have done an amazing job with him….there will be many, many show seasons together in your future!

  3. You are not alone! I went from selling my very made, dependable and confidence building 11 yo to buying a green as grass who in sum total has maybe had a year of training 11yo (long story lol). It’s been about six months now and it’s been a process. One that’s been super rewarding but also super frustrating and I’m not gonna lie there has been a decent amount of yelling and tears on my part. And I’m in full training with my trainer! I do miss the days of just cruising around a course and not second guessing anything. I wish I had some words of wisdom but I don’t. Just commiseration lol

  4. I feel this too a lot of the time, I miss Carlos, I miss being able to go to a horse show and know exactly how it will play out, etc.

    But we are here now and it’s good to try and stay in the present moment since the past is already done and the future is well.. the future.

  5. I feel this post so hard. I missed showing all of 2020, first rehabbing Zurich, then falling apart when he was permanently retired, and then scraping up enough money to start over. Now, like you, I have a nice young baby horse, with a bright future. But I sometimes have #FOMO watching all my barnmates head off to show after show, while I sit on the sidelines for another year. I have had so very many years of horse lameness,; 2019 was the one year I got to have a real show season with Zurich. Now it seems like a fever dream that passed by so quickly and is once again out of reach. We’ll get there again. I have faith.

  6. I don’t know if will make you feel any better, but I had an infuriatingly frustrating ride on Cosmo a couple weeks ago. We were both just getting mad at each other and I finally had to ask trainer A to help us for 5 min so that we could end on a good note. We are both lucky to have good trainers on our team who can reset us/our horses when needed.

  7. dude why are horse show nightmares even a thing??? ugh #relatable. for real tho, in charlie’s green journey, it was usually in those sorta plateau moments where i was starting to feel impatient about what comes next when we’d actually have our next ‘feel good’ breakthrough moment. maybe your next big moment with Po is right around the corner? his canter looks so dreamy in that video <3 <3

  8. This! With my last pony I was hoping to someday drive. Riding was happening and more fun. Then we slayed it at a show and less than 2 weeks later I lost her. The new pony was supposed to be a hunter…. She has been started over fences and went to a dressage show but has made it clear that saddle fit is an issue. After 10 saddles we are looking at bareback pads and treeless if riding is going to happen. Fortunately she has excelled at driving- but I find the longing and urge to ride is stronger now on my part. So frustrating and aggravating.

  9. If it makes you feel better that you’re not alone we’ve got your back. The reality is that riding is hard. I can get bummed by a bratty ride too. And I can brood on it. Fortunately our horses don’t brood. Although I’m sometimes convinced that my mare plots……

  10. I also can relate to this so much… when I first got Hero that was about all that my budget could afford, and I was SO looking forward to bringing along my first green horse. I had no clue how long and often frustrating that process would be though. It was eventually worth it, I felt so proud of how far we made it together, but it was not easy.

  11. This probably doesn’t help, but he doesn’t even look like the same horse you got two years ago. You have made so much progress with him already and, baby horse blues aside, he looks awesome with you. I know the feeling well. There are many things I miss (or envy when others post about them). Most of them I have no control over. It sucks. From the outside looking in, you guys look stellar. But also, it is your blog and you shouldn’t have to apologize for “whining” when things get frustrating.

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