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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