Monday, February 13, 2017

Baggage

As the two year anniversery is approaching, I am having to acknowledge that our relationship has a lot of baggage.  To say we got off to a rough start would be an understatement.  The poor guy got his world turned upside down multiple times in a few months.  He got dropped off with me and I didn't know how to handle his nervousness.  Then he got sick.  Knowing what I know now about him I am sure he was hurting and struggling before I realized something was wrong.

Baby Stinker was always a hot sweaty mess.

That isn't exactly a great start to building trust with a horse that requires a lot of trust.  Needless to say when I started bringing him back from the EPM there was a lot of panicking on both of our parts. I didn't know what to do with him.  He would be fine on the ground and would always lunge perfectly, but as soon as I got on there was a lot of flailing.  I would tense and he would flail more.  It was a very vicious cycle.

Baby Stinker used to act like this when I put my legs on

Needless to say, with a lot of time, patience, and excellent instruction I have been able to break the cycle.  I still have days where I buy into his BS, but the frequency has decreased drastically.  The tricky part now is letting go of the past and riding the horse I have now.  When I get on I need to have the expectation that I can ride with my leg on and I can expect him to soften into the bridle.

This is the horse I have now

He has done an excellent job of training me to remove my leg and to ride without contact.  On the plus side he is very in tune with my seat; the other side of that is he gets totally lost without my seat.  Regardless, I need to forget the horse that he was and start riding the horse I have now.

This is a lot easier said than done.  My first instinct when he gets fussy is to remove my legs and let the reins get long.  This used to work when he would get fussy out of nervousness.  Now, he is steadier if I support him more.  Before he needed the freedom to know that he wasn't trapped, now he needs the steadiness to support and guide him.

One I can ride with a halter

In light of this, I am making this year the year of letting go and riding the horse I have.  The one I used to have no longer exists.  The horse I have is one that I can get on and know that I can use my leg and have steady contact (if I remember to ride him as such).

14 comments:

  1. Nice post. This is my lesson as well. It's so hard to not buy into the drama and stay on the task at hand. Carmen gets me all the time but I'm getting better. It's easier in a lesson then by myself.

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    1. So much easier in lessons! I need a month of lessons every single ride. Maybe then it will get cemented into my brain.

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  2. He has come SO FAR. And holy cow has he grown up since that first picture!

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    1. He really has! I have some other pictures where he looks even more babyish.

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  3. the baggage is so real.... but so is the progress! i was always amazed by where isabel started (there were days i couldn't even get on her) and where she finished, esp bc it can be so hard to see that progress day in day out. Stinker has done so well in your care tho!

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    1. Thank you! And it is so easy to get stuck in the day to day. Blogging has been really helpful with that tho.

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  4. This is such a hard concept and it's a huge part of why I'm trying to actively recruit other horses to ride this year--I tend to be defensive because well, you know C, and now he's mostly past that and I need to trust him, but it's HARD. So hard. Good luck!

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    1. It is hard, but you guys are looking so good. I love riding other horses too.

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  5. Riding the horse you have is something we all need a reminder of from time to time <3

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    1. I need that tattooed on his neck (you know where I stare all the time)

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  6. Figuring out a new horse takes time. It's easy to think "finally, I know what makes them tick", but then of course they go and change and the process begins again! You always sound like you put a lot of thought into what you're doing with Stinker and that's awesome.

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    1. He came with a very steep learning curve! But it lets me put my neurosis to good use πŸ˜‰

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  7. Apollo has trained me a very similar way! They must be reading the same books. "Chapter One: Freak out until your rider removes their leg and loosens the reins." hahah You guys have made huge progress in your time together! That poles gif is so fabulous!

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    1. It is so easy to fall into that trap with them. And thank you :)

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