Wednesday, May 13, 2020

A Tale of Two Lessons, Part 2

Sorry for breaking this into two parts, but I have A LOT to say here and the last post got long enough. After the bucking spree of my second lesson on the mare I was torn. Part of me wanted to run scared and the other part wanted redemption. Mostly, I wanted to ride my own horse. Sigh.

The hubby told me to go ride for Mother's Day since we weren't doing anything else. Trainer invited me to join a group lesson Sunday afternoon and I figured why not?

My text exchange with Trainer Saturday afternoon

Honestly, I was hoping to see her pull a different horse out of the pasture but there really isn't a different horse available. She has three but one is very strong and tends to run off on even the best riders and the other is currently being leased, so the Appy mare it was. 

I could feel my old familiar friend, fear, welling up inside me as she handed her off to me. I gave myself a pep talk and mounted while chatting with my two riding mates for the lesson. I knew the one from a xc outing last summer and really enjoyed riding with her before. The other lady turned out to be awesome as well. 

Trainer had mowed an oval trail up in a far field with distance markers and her plan was to work on pacing. My stomach immediately knotted up and I wished fervently that I was on Eeyore instead. He would have been brave and a lot of fun to do that with. I'm not brave and I'm not inherently trusting, so the idea of galloping this mare I knew bucks and rears around an outdoor oval had me sweating. We trotted around it and all three spooked hard at some pheasants hidden behind a fence on the back side. While I never wish fear on anyone, I was really really relieved when the other two voiced concerns about riding their lesson horses (one was on the runaway and the other leases the third horse who is a saintly mustang) along this path at a gallop as well. The plan was scratched and instead we worked on a circle at the w/t/c before heading to some log jumps in the center of the field. 


Again, no media, but here is my happiest kiddo catching a large blue gill from our pond Sunday

The logs were tiny. I knew they were tiny. The height was no concern, but I could not jump them for the life of me. I was petrified of this mare under me and her bucking spree of the week before. We did a single log going down hill fine then turned and did a log two strides log combo going up hill and I could not relax. I had a death grip throughout my entire body which resulted in the horse not being able to move forward. Trainer came the closest she ever has to yelling at me about it and I felt like crap as I debated calling it quits right then and there and walking back to the barn. After another pass through  I finally started to relax on her a little which was the exact moment she threw in a small little happy dance buck. 

We finished the field work by stringing the three logs together going downhill starting with the two stride combo then getting seven strides to the out over the last log. The first time through she threw in a buck between # 2 and #3 and I just about called it quits for like the third time in half an hour. Trainer lectured me on not locking up out of fear and I took a deep breath and did the line again, this time doing it fine and being able to quit the exercise there. 

We then traveled back down to the arena to do a small course and all I could think was "please don't buck, please don't buck" I wasn't enjoying this and I felt like I was ruining it for the other two as well. 

The course was shorter with only 4 jumps.



I went last after watching the other two have near flawless runs. Being a bit nicer to myself here, the other two are light years ahead of me in terms of experience and level of riding so they really should have ridden it better, but sitting there wanting to throw up and wishing I could just not, well it didn't really matter to me. Fence 1 was two metal barrels side by side, then a sharp left turn to circle back around to a gate at 2, seven strides to a vertical at 3, then a right circle around 4 to go over it so it was a sideways "S".

I was so darn concerned about those barrels, having never gone over them before, that when we made it over no issue I completely forgot the sharp turn to 2. I felt like a fool and restarted again. We made it over every fence with the correct striding and leads, but Trainer was unhappy with how tight I was and picked apart my seat, my hands, my legs, everything it felt like. I felt like the dunce of the class. 

We all ran through it again and this time I stayed up in 2 point instead of sitting because she hated how I sat and it went a lot better. But it never felt good. It felt stiff and the mare was behind my leg the entire time.

The boys are trying hard to get the cat fish out of the pond. Dusty set juglines but all he caught was this very angry snapping turtle

After that we were all done and sent off to do a short hack through the woods. As we left the arena the one lady turned to me and said "I didn't want to say anything before, but I got bucked off that mare hard last week while jumping. You did a good job with her"

And maybe I should have felt proud of myself or elated but instead all I wanted was to get back to the barn so I could get off her and put her safely back in her pasture. I drove back home in near tears over the last few lessons and how awful I kept feeling. 

It was time for some deep introspection and a plan moving forward because my motto with horses is that is has to be fun. Hard work, frustrating, humbling..sure. But at its core it has to be fun and I wasn't having fun anymore. 

For starters, I won't be getting back on that mare. I can feel my confidence shot and it took me way too long to get to where I’m at to let this horse ruin it all. I brought Eeyore home 2 years ago today and I refuse to return to the rider I was back then. 

With no other rideable options for me at Trainer’s facility, I’ve made a list of places more local to me (she is an hour away) to try out over the summer. One I am really excited about and is super close plus with the package rates I could afford to lesson weekly versus once or twice a month. We will see how it goes and if barns open or not. 

25 comments:

  1. Keeping my fingers crossed that your other options work out! I know what it's like to have your confidence destroyed by a bad match. I'm still working through it, myself.

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    1. It can take a long time to rebuild and I don't want to go back there again. I hope your progress is moving forward!

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  2. Glad to hear that you are exploring other options. I know your trainer doesn't have anything else to ride, but a horse that regularly bucks people off in lessons is not a suitable lesson horse. Fingers crossed that the barns closer to you work out!

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    1. I have a lesson tomorrow that I'm excited about. We will see how it goes.

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  3. aw i'm sorry that the ride gave you such a bad feeling. when i was younger i'd ride basically anything and maybe even thought it was "cool" or something to ride the naughtier horses. but idk... esp as an adult, my confidence is so so so hard fought and hard won, that i'm fairly protective of it. like, i try to understand whether my bad feelings in a ride come from my own internal anxieties, or come from something specific to the horse. if it's my own demons at work, i try to push through it. but if it's the horse? eh, pass. there are so many amazing excellent horses out there. not all of them are gonna be a good fit for each of us, and that's ok!

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    1. In a way its nice to know that Trainer thinks I'm good enough to ride the mare, but I've never been a "ride anything" type of person. I'm not in this for ribbons, money or recognition so it really boils down o enjoying it, learning and pushing myself to be better. I can't do that when I'm wondering when I'm hitting the dirt.

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  4. I agree with what's been said already. But, as someone who also rode a bucking horse, and was encouraged by her trainer to keep going and keep trying, I can add some personal thought as well. I WISH I hadn't kept trying to be in lessons with June when she scared me. I WISH I had taken all the pressure off to jump and compete when I could barely stay on. I know what you're feeling and it is NOT fun. You're paying for these lessons and you should be on a safe horse you enjoy. We are amateurs and have lives we need to lead outside of riding- we can't afford to get hurt, especially on a horse that bucked a good rider off the week before. Your trainer sounds like she honestly doesn't care that much that her horse bucks riders off. The horse should be pulled from the lesson program IMO. You want to have fun and learn while your horse rehabs. You can't learn if you're scared. If the horse was yours, I'd say, go out and try to enjoy her, like I did with June. But she's not, so time to say goodbye until you have a safer horse to ride.

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    1. I said something similar to the Hubby when discussing things with him. If this was my horse, I'd figure out how to ride it but it isn't my horse so I don't have to. Which is the glory of riding other horses right? I'm not stuck with a single horse and their quirks and flaws.

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  5. I'm like the others and agree with everything that's already been said. I agree with Nadia that the horse really shouldn't be in the lesson program if she's bucked off numerous people. You're right in that the steps you've taken to get this far shouldn't be undone by you going back to riding a horse you don't trust. I think it'll be great for you to check out that other program that's closer to you. I really hope that works out and that they're open!

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    1. I got in touch with the and set something up for tomorrow and I'm really excited!!

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  6. It's one thing to work through fears with our own horses. And working through fear doesn't have to mean riding. It might mean ground work. It might mean other things. It's another thing to push through fear on a horse that you don't need to ride.

    For years I was taught that I should ride everything I was handed. I didn't matter if it bucked or reared or whatever. Now, I rarely ever rode anything bad, but I did occasionally get scared/nervous as a result of never riding a truly well schooled horse. I always had to work on the horse and not me (oh bad habits). I was also taught never to say anything bad about the horse (I'm sorry, but what? When a horse is rearing because they are gate sour, sometimes it IS the horse/a training issue that needs to be resolved and something should be said beyond "this horse is the most amazing thing ever" but that was the brainwashing cool-aid that ex-trainer followed by ex-boss pushed).

    It really wasn't until I started taking lessons on Batt (it's OK that he can't do what we wanted -- I was scared and current trainer said I was fearful for a good reason) and then started riding Ranger that I really learned what it was like to be a confident rider. I really wonder what I'd have been like on Subi if I had had my strength from Ranger. Ranger taught me SO MUCH and made me trust my instincts. But that was because he was safe and schooled and the true lesson horse I never had. I've also never outgrown a lesson horse like I outgrew Ranger. My time with Bob was short but I learned a lot too.

    Now I have lessons and confidence that I can take and teach Nay Nay. I hope.

    My point here is definitely try lessons elsewhere until Eeyore is ready for you. There is no point in destroying your confidence. I've ridden on both sides and the difference confidence brings is amazing. If your trainer doesn't understand, then take they lessons she's taught you thus far and move on. Life is too short otherwise.

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    1. So...I love my Trainer. She focuses on teaching people on their own horses and doesn't really have a lesson program with lesson horses for riders. She uses what she happens to have available in the barn at the time and doesn't own any of them so it is really hard to be without your own horse and ride with her. She is trying her best to offer me something while Eeyore is out of commission. I want to continue with her program once Eeyore is back up and running and/or if something else comes available for me at her place. In the meantime, I'm doing some soul searching and going to take a lesson somewhere closer to home and see how things pan out.

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    2. ugh Sara i've dealt with this exact thing on and off over the years. esp at the end of the Isabel era ---- none of my favorite trainers really have "lesson horses" per se. sure, some had horses i could catch a ride on here or there, but they were all either privately owned (in which case i felt like i was "borrowing" them and was nervous to screw up) or were more green or had other reasons for being available. here's hoping this other new potential place has some good options for you while Eeyore recovers!!

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  7. Finding somewhere else to lesson sounds like the right decision. Especially since this horse bucks for everybody and continues to be used in lessons.

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    1. Its hard because she isn't a lesson barn with a string of horses available but I agree - I need to find something suitable for the summer

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  8. I hope you're able to find a new place with super awesome and fun lesson horses very soon!

    And also, HOLY SNAPPER BATMAN. That is a BIG turtle. I hate those effers. Mostly because I almost lost a hand to one years ago and that memory will never leave me.

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    1. He was a very angry, large snapping turtle. They are super mean and I hate that we have them in the pond, but not much to do about it.

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  9. What everyone else said.
    A horse that bucks shouldn't be in a lesson program unless you have enough students (and horses) that you can save her to really accomplished riders). If being told to 'not be afraid' worked then we wouldn't need help. It's a ridiculous statement. You need to move somewhere else. There's no point in riding a difficult horse that is not yours -you will never reap the benefits.

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    1. Yeah, I agree. She isn't my horse and while I suppose learning how to ride out a buck after a jump is a nice skill to have, I have zero intentions of ever owning a horse (or if I found myself owning one, keeping it) that does that so it isn't a skill I need.

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  10. I am sorry this happened to you! So Sorry. UGH. Also I know you like riding with this trainer but I do think you need to find somewhere else. I never thought I would be riding in lessons at a damn hunter barn but it works!! A place like that would be great for you they have about 8-10 nice lesson horses that are safe and all levels (including Remus ha). You need something where you can enjoy riding and improve you and then when E is back going you are ready to go. I hope you find something. I am really sad this happened. It is not fun to be scared but I am proud you admit it (I am a total wimp so I get it!!) hugs to you .....ps glad Wyatt is having fun with pond. :)

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    1. I didn't even realize how scared I used to be, it was sorta just a part of my riding life, until I got on her the last time and felt it and recalled how I used to feel like that all the time but haven't in a really long time and I do not miss it at all. I'm excited to try this place out tomorrow and see how it goes.

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  11. I took some lessons at Clear View and Motlow Creek when I was down there - would either of those be options? I know they had horses.

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    1. I haven't heard of Motlow Creek and will look into them. Clear View is a bit farther away than I'd like but is on my list in case this first place doesn't work out.

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  12. I'm sorry but that horse needs to be vetted for pain issues. Bucking and tripping are not a "party", and if they are, the horse is not a suitable lesson horse. My insurance company would have a stroke if they heard I was doing anything like this in my lessons. Not to mention this is a good way to destroy rider confidence and create completely unnecessary issues. I know you have enjoyed riding with this trainer and that she has been good for you and Eeyore but I'm relieved to read that you will be looking into other options. I hope this comment doesn't come off as bitchy or mean spirited. I am hesitant to say anything at all, but I have been very concerned reading these last few entries. Just because you CAN stick to a rank horse doesn't mean you should have to... and especially not if YOU'RE paying for the ride (as opposed to BEING paid!)

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    1. I know you are coming from a place of wanting to help and I appreciate it. I agree with everything you said.

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