Yesterday the barn went down for a XC schooling at Aspen Farms. I was so excited to go, despite being in the early group and having to get out of bed at 6:00 am. I’m not a morning person at all! And while I’ll do it for horse shows and the like, I’m not thrilled with having to do so.

The day started off awesome. Dandy was excited and full of himself. Wanting to gallop off during warm-up and buck on the back side of each fence. None of that bothered me. I could handle that. Heck, he wasn’t the only one excited. I got a little frustrated at the bucking and playing but not at him, at myself. I felt like I didn’t have the posture or the strength to stay with him afterwards but those are all things that I think I know how to deal with, they’ll just take time.

But then it happened. It was my turn to pop over a little log on the top of a hill for the second time. I turned Dandy away from the group and trotted down the hill when Dandy threw a hissy fit about leaving the other horses (I think that was the reason). I tried to turn him left so that I could pick up my canter and come back up the hill to the jump but he got light in his feet and resistant. My mind went completely blank as my trainer encouraged me to turn him in that tight circle. She immediately rushed over to me and walked me through it and back down to the starting point for that jump, she was calm and helpful and we worked through that particular session but by that point my confidence was shattered. Dandy hadn’t even gone up more than a hop but I had tears streaming down my face. My body was tense and my knuckles were clenched so hard around those reins.

It was basically the end of the schooling for us as Dandy started feeding off the excited energy from one of the other horses and then lost a shoe. I attempted to work on banks with the rest of the group at the end but when I had to walk away from everyone, he went straight up. I stayed on. I walked him in a small circle. And I got off. I was done.

When I got Dandy I was so excited. He was calm and eager to please. I took him all over NV trail riding and to other arenas and never had an issue. Not until that first hunter show. I thought Dandy was finally going to be the horse I needed to restore all the confidence I had lost as a kid on Sheena but if anything, he’s making it worse. I used to have no fear. I used to be that typical kid thinking she was invincible on her horse. Sheena changed that. Though we used to ride in the streets and go on trails and ride in fields next to busy highways all by ourselves, that mare installed in me the fear of stopping. She stopped at fences all the time.

My confidence is, and not so slowly, eroding away. I thought it was just show like atmospheres where we would have to work on our bond and my confidence in handling him when he’s being a goofball. I thought we’d have issues doing xc but they’d be mostly things like stamina and the various questions you see on XC. I never thought that I’d actually be scared to ride him across a course. And where does that leave me? Well I’m starting to be afraid that either eventing is just not the right course for us (despite the fact that he is loves xc) or that maybe I’m overhorsed.

We have a dressage schooling show this weekend and I need to concentrate on that first. But afterwards I think I’m going to have to do some serious thinking. I’m not sure how I come back from this.

12 thoughts on “Erosion

  1. Ugh. That is so frustrating and such a hard decision to make. Especially when you love your horse. When it comes right down to it, if they aren’t willing to do what you want to do, then it’s time to make some changes. I’m sorry you are in that position right now.

    1. Thanks. I don’t think the problem is that Dandy doesn’t want to event so much as the fact that he’s got my number now and I’m deathly afraid of him to the point where I go completely numb. Not that that is any better. It’s going to be a hard road that’s for sure.

  2. It’s so tough to hear the sadness and uncertainty in your voice 🙁 I know where you’re at right now and I don’t really have any worldly advice to offer except hang in there and the right decision will present itself in some way. Maybe you can try riding another seasoned horse to get your confidence back up, perhaps even lease Dandy out for a little while so he stays in shape? I know for myself, riding a horse that won’t give me crap and knows her job is often really helpful in making me feel more confident in myself. Chin up!

    1. That’s a fabulous idea and I’m going to have to see if I can figure that out. This is such a hard thing to have to deal with. Thank you for your kind words, they are really nice to hear when I’m feeling like this.

  3. 🙁 Ugh I am sorry!

    Is it possible (like Lauren said) for you to ride something else and maybe have your trainer put some time on him.. almost like a reset button (maybe a few weeks or more) and then you will still get the ride time in/keep in shape and he will get worked and maybe when you get back on him- things will be better?

    I know for the first 6-8 months ish Henry scared the living crap out of me. I had just had a baby, was weak and was sure I was going to die. I decided to put him in full training for 2 months to get some good solid time on him that wasn’t me freaking out. I still rode him but not much and I rode another horse at the barn who is a doll… he’s not perfect but I am a good enough rider to ride him and he reminded me that I CAN do this! It also helped me that my trainer pushed me through everything lol.. but that doesn’t work for everyone 🙂

    We are still in 3/4 training to keep us sharp but now I am doing all the rides but one a week 🙂

    Big hugs!! I know when you and Dandy are doing good, you are awesome so don’t get down on yourself- this is just another growing/learning experience for all the parties!

  4. I really feel you on this. I get so scared sometimes when Archie isn’t agreeable to what I think we ought to be doing. It’s hard to build up confidence on a horse that seems so capable of constantly knocking it down. I think sometimes hopping on a different, less spunky, horse helps.

  5. 🙁 I’d say you need to come to Idaho and ride Cuna, but he’s not going to be back in action for a good long time.

    Being scared is horrible. It takes the fun out of riding, and what we do is way, way too dangerous and expensive to be not fun for more than about 2 minutes a year. As hard as it is to consider, look at your options. If you’re financially able, lease something BROKE BROKE BROKE and get your confidence back while Dandy is in training or on a lease with an more experienced rider.

    If not, explore other options with your trainer. Can she use him for advanced lessons? Can she do half training? If you want to keep him, give yourself a timeline. Say, “If I don’t feel substantially better in 6 months, I’m selling him”. Make it finite and stick to it.

    I’ve been in your shoes, with a horse I loved that scared the shit out of me. I tried to hang on for three years and it just kept getting worse. Maybe this is when you both can find something that makes you happy.

  6. I’m so sorry to read this 🙁 I know how hard confidence building can be, and it really does take the right horse. Some options? Maybe put him in full training for a few months if you can afford it? Or lease him out and try to find a school master to free lease. No matter what happens, take your time and your gut will tell you the right thing to do.

  7. I am so sorry. I was (well may be) going through a similar thing. It is not fun to spend a ton of money and put so much energy into riding when you are scared and your horse is being an a**. Riding is supposed to be our fun, challenging relief. I agree with SprinklerBandit…set up a possible timeframe. If you try different things and you still aren’t seeing a breakthrough maybe it is time to move on. What does your old trainer think? I often think about getting my old trainer’s insight to see if she has ideas or maybe can just provide a little confidence that things are going to work through (sometimes I forget the days when Savvy was a jerk at my old barn).

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