When is Enough, Enough?

I haven’t wanted to ride lately, I haven’t even wanted to go to the barn.  I could blame it on the weather, but the truth is, Savy and I are having problems.  I feel like I’m at the point in a relationship where that last fight turns solitary isolated events into a pattern, a pattern that seems unchangeable.  Couple’s counseling?  Savy is ridden by my trainer 3 times a week and I have lessons weekly.  At a certain point I have to be able to ride my horse, and I can’t.  Not really.  I can make Savy do things, because she respects the whip and the spur, but she’s not just unwilling, she actively tells me to fuck off.

I can feel everyone who knows anything about horses thinking in unison, have you ruled all any physical problems.  Of course I have, I do everything possible to make sure she’s happy and comfortable.  You know how I know it’s just me: Savy is a totally different horse when my trainer riders her.  Gone is the chronic attitude, gone is the unwillingness to be in front of the leg.  She’s willing, polite, and she tries so damn hard for her.  She’s working 3rd level movements at the age of 5 with my trainer.  She is athletic, smart and eager to please.  When I ride her all of those aspects that make her wonderful for Nicole, are turned against me.  Every little thing I try to do with Savy is like running through quick sand, up hill.

It’s discouraging to say the least.  When I ask for the trot, no matter how gently I brush my leg against Savy’s side, she flicks her tail and pins her ears.  When I ask for the canter she bucks.  If she doesn’t buck there is even more trail swishing and ear pinning. She lets me know every stride of every ride that she is unhappy.  What am I supposed to do?  I’ve tried being super positive and rewarding every tiny little thing I can, and I’ve tried punishing her.  Nothing works.  My trainer says everything gets worse before it gets better, and that has proven true.  I also totally freak out like this before things get better, because they are so bad, but it feels different this time.  We’ve had this issue since day 1, and everything I do seems to make it worse.

It makes me sad.  It makes me sad to consistently make her do something she so clearly is telling me she doesn’t want to do.  I’m not asking for canter pirouettes here, I’m just asking for simple walk, trot, canter; on the bit and forward.  This is the reasoning I say to myself when I feel sad and guilty for riding her, it’s not hard work.  She’s more than capable of doing it.  But just because she’s capable does it make it anymore fair to her, or to me, if we’re both so unhappy?

This is the essence of what I need to figure out.  Is this fair? Are we a good pair?  Is this going to work?  And my god, what if the answer is no???

 

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Great Gifts for Horse Lovers

It’s that time of the year again!  I personally love Christmas shopping.  Spending money on gifts for my friends and family is one of my most favorite activities.  But I realize most people stress over this yearly holiday chore, especially the loved ones of us crazy equestrians.    So I put together a list of neat horsey related gifts that require limited or no knowledge of horses.

Win Pillow

https://www.etsy.com/listing/182238143/18×18-burlap-ribbon-pillow?ref=shop_home_active_6

For $35 this pillow is adorable.  You’d need access to a ribbon, preferably a blue ribbon won by your loved equestrian, so it would require a little bit of planning and sneaking around, but that only makes the gift even more cool.

 

Dana's Doodle's

http://www.danasdoodles.com/bay-dressage-ballet-horse-stall-sign/

Dana’s Doodles website has a plethora of cute horse swag.  This stall sign for $35 is especially cute, and all you need to know is the horse’s name.

 

Ride to Forget Bracelot

https://www.etsy.com/listing/102432662/hand-stamped-cuff-bracelet-horse-quote?ref=favs_view_4

Isn’t etsy awesome!  This hand stamped bracelet says “sometimes I ride to forget, but I never forget to ride”.  Riding is an escape for most of us and this bracelet echo’s the sentiment even when we’re not at the barn. And it’s only $28!!

Effax Leather Care Kit

https://www.smartpakequine.com/effax-leather-care-kit–11737p

Don’t ask me why but I’m obsessed with leather care, and I bet other horse people are too.  We deal with a lot of expensive leather equipment.  Effax is the best, and this kit has it all.

Throwhttp://www.theequestriancorner.com/horseware-newmarket-throw.html

The Newmarket double-bonded fleece is awesome.  It will change your life.  I should know… I spent an absurd amount on a blanket for Savy in the navy and now I would like one for myself, thank you very much.  The color patterns are recognizable to any self-respecting horse person and the quality will be appreciated immediately.

Totes

http://www.theequestriancorner.com/equine-couture-damask-mini-tote-bag.html

This one is no-brainer.  A girl can never have too many totes.

If you’re looking for something more personal, I can’t even tell you how much I would love someone that made my horse homemade treats.  Here’s a website with several easy recipes.

http://www.aboutyourhorse.com/easy-make-horse-treat-recipes

Stocking Stuffers:

Effervescent Brush Cleaner

https://www.smartpakequine.com/effervescent-brush-cleaner-3736p

Horses like mud.  We clean them with brushes.  We then have dirty brushes.  Now we are cleaning horses with dirty brushes.  This is a perfect solution.

Grooming Blockhttps://www.smartpakequine.com/slick-n-easy-3490p

This grooming block may look weird, but it’s a god-send during shedding season, which is just around the corner (after Christmas).

Effox Lip Balm

https://www.smartpakequine.com/effol-lip-balm-7198p

I just want this.

Bling Braiding Bands

http://www.dressageextensions.com/ProductDetail.asp?KEY=1566

These braiding bands are one of those things that we think are cool, but would never buy for ourselves.  Buy them for us please.

Happy holiday shopping!!

Turkey Trot Schooling Show

TT

I went to the Turkey Trot (a local schooling show) with one objective in mind, schooling in the show ring. Prior to our last show, I went down centerline practically paralyzed with nerves.  My only real goal was to get through the movements; halt at X, don’t go off course, canter when I’m supposed to and pick up the correct lead, and ride reasonably accurate circles.  Savy quickly learned she didn’t have to work hard in the show ring, and I became a passenger.

So for this schooling show, I put no pressure on myself to score well and had no expectations of being high in the ribbons. There were no more than 6 riders in each class so I mentally prepared myself for a pink or green ribbon, and fireworks in the arena.  I am extremely competitive, so this was difficult for me.  Generally anytime I change the status quo with Savy I get lots of bucks and pinned ears.  Surprisingly she didn’t buck at the show, but there was a lot of ear pinning at the canter.

The canter. My nemesis.  I have never been awesome at riding the canter.  It wasn’t so bad in hunters because we just kind of perched there anyway, but I still had trouble with my leads.  Now that I understand bending, I get my lead each time just fine, but I have a tremendously hard time sitting the canter and following the movement.  It doesn’t help that Savy’s canter used to be really difficult to sit at all. Used to being the key phrasing.  Her canter has come a long way and there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to ride it.

My problem is I tense. I tense because Savy likes to be behind my leg, especially in the canter, and to get her forward I squeeze.  Unfortunately I squeeze with every muscle in my body.  This, of course, has the exact opposite affect and makes Savy very unhappy.  I am learning to relax my body and move my hips with the movement.  If Savy isn’t forward, she gets a boot with the leg.  She keeps getting boots until she’s forward.  We’ve make tremendous improvement in only one week.

I still had some issues with the canter in the test, but I consciously attempted to relax. And while she wasn’t as forward as I would have liked, I didn’t stop pushing for it.  Luckily I have videos of my ride and I am starting to see glimpses of the horse and rider I want us to become.

Surprisingly we received a First and Second place in Training 2 & 3 respectively.