Thursday, March 12, 2015

All The Feels

The opening line of any post is always the hardest for me because I gave up caring about "essay" format after college.

I also dont know where to begin usually because I tend to not write after every ride. Also, all the things have occurred in the last two days and I'm just so full of emotion/statements/feels at the moment.

I made  pact with myself to work the B on the 3 sunny days this week, no matter how the day went or how I felt (which is REALLY tired lately). I have a 45 minute commute everyday, and thankfully DLS has given me a little bit of additional daylight to work with, but I still always feel like I'm perpetually scrambling to do all the things at the barn before dark, and then come inside and eat and  prep for the next work day and collapse into bed. The do list is getting longer and longer and its giving me a headache. How do people do this shit for their ENTIRE LIVES with HUMAN CHILDREN to worry about too. Props to all the moms out there that work and ride. You are my hero's.

I digress.

So while I'm restricted to the road for now, I was determined to get some lateral work, transitions and stretchiness under us.

I fully anticipated bad behavior and some wild antics, so I tacked up with pretty low expectations. & added a grab strap.

It should be noted that my horses are the most disgusting creatures alive. I don't understand why they in particular insist on covering themselves FULLY from head to toe, everyday, in a lovely mud paste that rarely dries and is impossible to get off.

So that was fun and he still looked pretty disgusting after 30 minutes.

You should see his hind end.
And yes, those are horse blankets on my giant roundbales. Sidenote, NEVER order, pay for and get roudnd bales delivered sight unseen, without asking how big they are. Assumptions make for giant problems. Literally. They weigh 1000lbs each and I have no way of moving them. My previous bales weighed about 400 and were half that height and I could easily roll them myself (CROSSFIT). SOOO yeah, now theyre just sitting my yard....with blankets on them to *hopefully* protect them from the torrential rains we're having.

I digress AGAIN.

So he was muddy. Very muddy. Also fresh. Extremely fresh. But I anticipated it and came in hot with a plan.

Plan did not work.

Bacardi horses should be equipped with seatbelts because several times on our first ride I literally thought I was going to die. I'm not sure why I wasn't more concerned about my safety, but I was more upset that my horse was broken.

That look is dangerous
Not exaggerating ...he.was.the.worst.

Multiply any shit he gave me over the winter, before break, by like 13 and thats the Bacardi I got straight out of the gate Wednesday. Think back to the lunging pics in my last post. Yeah.

Frustrated, depressed & crushed did not even come close to the emotions I was feeling.

Why was my horse acting this way on a continuous basis. I understand normal horse jitters coming off a long break, but seriously? He was literally impossible. I couldn't touch him with my hand or he would rear. If I didn't touch him though he would try to bolt. If I tried to give him other things to do, like lateral work, he would bolt. So you see the cycle here? Bolt, rear, bolt rear, jig, bolt, rear. I dont use the word "bolt" lightly either. So I was stuck on a jigging, bolty, rearing horse and didn't know what to do. It seemed to get worse when he was within eyesight of the barn so there I was thinking, "great, now he's barn sour too". Did not help that Lilly was tearing around like a maniac screaming her head off.


I was at a total loss. I gave up mentally. Done. So done.

And then he bolted. Like actually full tilt, not stopping him, gallop, on a paved road. Then began to buck. Really hard.

You know how your mind blanks because you're so terrified that you might actually die any second that instinct kicks in?

Yeah, well I executed the most powerful one-rein stop of my life without it even registering in my frontal lobe. And after about 30 spins, the red nugget stopped. I patted him.

And then he proceeded to bolt again.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Only took 3 times of some firm handed, one-rein stops and its like something clicked in his brain and he was like, "Oh. I'm supposed to listen to the human on my back."

After that very intense & horrifying 7 minute time-span we had the most ridiculously good ride. It was a totally different horse. Stretchy trot, calm walk, brilliant transitions, lateral work (HOLY SHIT I COULD TOUCH HIS SIDES) and no spooking, bolting or rearing.

I almost cried.

All my worries, fears, anxiety and second-guessing about this horse dissolved. All I felt was relief.

And then I felt so so so so stupid. I had been so worried about hurting my sensitive lil baby that it never occurred to me to be firm and assert myself with him. I stressed about every single thing that physically could be wrong with him. I questioned my ability as a rider. I questioned my sanity.

He did, and was, controlling & completely ignoring me. Thats no way to form a partnership. Why would he respect me? I'd let him control everything from the beginning of his bad behavior, through coddling him. Who knew I just needed to say I'M THE BOSS MARE!

Day 1 success
I came back today with a renewed vigor & love for this horse. It had been there all along, just shrouded with doubt and fear.

I was apprehensive about his lesson sticking with him today, but he blew me away form the get-go. I had a soft, calm and responsive horse under me for once.

We had one minor spooking/bucking episode that was mitigated with a well placed, swift one-rein stop. Even the amount of times he spins around until he halts decreased dramatically (think like from 30 to 3). It seemed he had remembered what we covered yesterday. PRAISE 8LB 5OZ BABY JESUS.

Babyface gave me some extraordinary stretch work along with more lateral work and soft transitions for the remainder of the ride. I tried to keep it relatively short as a reward. No sense in drilling him.

Horrible angle of said stretchy work
Words cannot describe my happiness and relief. Riding had always been my escape. My ONE thing I that was always there for me, regardless of the other shit going down in my life. The ONE constant I could always count on making me happy. The ONE place in my life I felt confident, regardless of my successes or failures in the show ring or the issues I was having with any horse. It still was there and I still loved it more than anything in the world. It was (and still is) as natural as breathing for me. It was not only  frustrating and no longer fun for me, but taking a break did a number on my psyche. I know almost all of you know where I am coming from here regarding horses/riding/barn time.

So with all of that being said, the baby is getting the next 2-3 days off (thanks, rain) to mull over the lessons we've learned the past few days and I'm going to soak in a hot bath for the next 24 hours because my riding muscles are screaming.
All the feels.


  1. Aw! I was literally dying when I read about the bolting. I had to stop myself from skipping ahead. Hallelujah one-rein stops! Sometimes we forget that they're 1200lbs of animal and that although we can be soft... Sometimes we have to be a little on the hard side. They'll trust you and respect you more if they have something to trust and respect ^.^

  2. Yay so happy for you! Go boss mare!!!!

  3. I am so happy you found a break through!

  4. The bolting thing literally made my heart stop... There is no way I could deal with bolt/bronc bucking on tarmac... Ever. I'm so glad you are both ok.

    bonita of A Riding Habit

  5. yea the first half of this post had me really worried for your safety too - that sounds horrifying! but what an awesome turnaround!! my mare was never quite the bronc that B has been lately - but we had to go through the same process of me finally asserting myself and it changed everything... good luck and hope the lesson sticks!

  6. If it makes you feel any better at all, there are 3 large TBs - 2 geldings and a mare - at the new farm I am at, with a giant, awesome indoor, and their riders are all dealing with periodic nonsense and insanity from their horses. And these are some seriously good riders (one did a/o jumpers at Lake Placid).

    TBs and winter can be tough, especially if they are the big, feel-good TB types. Just... be careful.

  7. Welcome to the adult ammy life. Glad you survived initiation.


  8. Happy to hear you worked through it - my other thought - the time I knew something was wrong with Penny was when she full tilt bolted on me. Further investigation showed she had that tooth issue. Tooth is gone, I know have a quiet horse who is willing to learn. There could definitely be something underlying causing his shenanigans.

  9. Ha, Aimee's comment made me laugh. It was scary! And you know what? One rein stops are special friends in my book. I do them all of the time to get the brain back into the horse if it is needed. He looks awesome!

  10. Okay I feel stupid now too haha!! It never even crossed my mind he was being a teenager and testing you. I just assumed there was something causing the behavior (like the tail)... I'm glad all he needed was a coming to Jesus moment! That's a simple fix!! I hope the solution sticks and that he is on his best behavior from here on out. Now I need to go seriously think about how much I'm coddling Chrome to see if his spooking is the same thing....

    P.S. I'm so glad you survived! That sounds absolutely, completely and totally terrifying!!!!!! Also horse blankets on hay bales is so genius! I love it!! I'm so happy we have a tractor now, although if it makes you feel any better it has gotten stuck in the mud every time we tried to move a bale..... can't win when it comes to mud!


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