Friday, April 16, 2010

Be Brave

There's nothing that makes me want to do something more than to tell me that you don't think I can or that you're not so sure....blah, blah, BLAH.

I'm getting an ulcer. It's been a while, but I'm defiantly feeling it. I'm sure the gallons of Coke Zero I've been drinking hasn't helped.

Yesterday I ran out to the barn because I wanted to talk to my trainer about our conversation the night before. She was riding her horse and told me that she didn't have time to talk but we really needed to sit down and have a conversation.

You can't fucking tell me that and then expect me to not say anything.

I got pissed, even more so because I knew in my heart what she was going to try to tell me. I grabbed Denali (MY HORSE) and took her into the round pen. I did a little walking and trotting and getting her to listen to me. Then I went and got the dreaded flag.

You would have thought that the flag was on fire and trying to attack her. We worked for a long time, and I called it quits when she stopped freaking out and just stood still. She tried to rear a few times but I just made her go backwards as fast as I could so she'd think rearing was a really bad idea. I need to have a lesson on this, I don't remember how to do it exactly.

After that I was still pissed. I went to my trainer and asked her if she wanted me out of the barn and that's why she wanted to talk to me.

She said no, then went on to say that she's just not sure if Denali and I are a good match. Yada, yada, yada. Honestly it was an hour long conversation, but if I tried writing it all here my hands are going to fall off.

She said she just needs to sit down and think the pros and cons. I told her she hasn't given either one of us a chance. Denali has been ridden, but has not been in training since August. That I haven't done ANYTHING in the past 6 months really, and that she's not giving us a chance.

She said that she was talking with the other trainer from Monday night and that she just has some concerns. Safety is her number one priority (or so she said) and she just wants to make sure that this is a safe partnership. Honestly, I feel like it's me and Denali now against the world, and we no longer have a supportive trainer. If she can't believe in me, then it's going to be hard to believe in myself. If Denali was rearing up, or bucking, or trying to dump me, yes, I'd revisit the situation and wonder if it was a good relationship. BUT, she's not. She's green. I'm green. She's also a Thoroughbred. A young Thoroughbred who was trained to race. She needs time.

I told her if it never worked out that she was a riding horse that I'd keep her as my pet. She asked me if that was fair to Denali. Have you met my horse lady? She LOVES eating. She actually excels at it. Also, there are never guarantees when you sell a horse. Would it be fair for Denali to be ran into the ground then forced to have babies? Would it have been fair for her to be on someones dinner plate? There is no way for me to keep any of that from happening if I don't own her.

I was very nice talking with her of course. I love, love, love the barn. I love her too, but not when she doesn't seem to believe in me (or Denali.) The barn is so nice, but I feel like I need to start looking for a new home, JUST IN CASE. If Ophie and her mom weren't there I would have been gone after the "bit incident of '10." I think it would break my heart to leave and feel like I couldn't go back and visit them. I need to do what is best for my horse and for me.

I'm really frustrated. My husband (non-horsey husband at that, who is BEYOND supportive of me) put it best. "Maybe we need to find another trainer if she's not confident enough in herself to stand up for what she believe." (After bit incident and then yesterday.) Both times she's said things or done things is after other trainers have been at the barn. I'm not sure what it is she is thinking. He also said, "If you did put her up for sale what are the chances she'd offer to buy her or know someone who wanted her?" He's a smart man.

What I do know is I'm going to prove her wrong. I'm going to make the best relationship with my horse that she's ever seen, and then remind her that she didn't think it was going to work. I'm not an idiot, I know my horse. I've seen people with horses and a relationship that didn't work. I don't have that with her.

What do you think? I'm going to write in my boots "Be Brave" to remind me that I'm not going to die and I'm going to prove her wrong.

In the world of boarding, I need something 20 miles from Seattle (closer obviously better) with turn out for the majority of the day, but still able to feed grain at night. Indoor arena, stall, and being allowed to have my own trainer come in. All for $450.00. Not an easy task to find. Essentially I want my barn. Sigh.


Jay Jennings said...

New barn? a little farther away than 20 min from seattle but all day turnout. We are there; and our two trainers rock. Horse are never skinny and board is super reasonably priced.

Anyway, I don't mean to pimp out our barn.

Don't get discouraged about D. I rescued the Moose 6 years ago. She was a reck; hated people was half blind would rather run someone down than deal with them. Truly, seriously; a dangerous horse to be around. I knew absolutely nothing; I had taken 6 lessons on my wife's (now ex) 2nd level dressage horse. Even the ex wife who had ridden many many years couldn't deal with her.

I didn't give up on the moose; I learned how to ride. I learned how break a green horse. I spent many hours reading, learning and listening to any trainer who would give me the time. I can say it's been a great journey; I've learned so much and continue to learn. And at the point of being almost sappy. I feel I'm a better person today through my journeys with my horses.

Much thanks can be given to my trainer Cindy who I have known for years. She started us both out right, and even tho I have tried many other trainers we always end up back with Cindy. She's great and is always continuing to learn.

It's hard, it's a struggle; there are many days in my riding I feel like I take 3 steps back from where we started yesterday. But if it was easy it wouldn't be fun.

I'm sure you will do just fine by D. Just don't let other make the decisions for you or talk you feeling like D isn't the right horse for you.

Ashley said...

Tough situation ya got there! I understand the frustrations of finding a new barn and knowing whether or not it is the right thing to leave. I always thought to myself, what if the next place I go is worse? Then I'd regret it. Take out the factor of your trainer...would you stay? If you are allowed to bring in your own trainers then find another one! That option is way easier than moving...especially when you've got a good friend at your barn. Don't let the trainer get you down...if she doesn't have confidence in you- someone else will and you and the current trainer are not a good match. Dont let it getchya down :)

Misae Silverfall said...

I don't really think it's that you and Ms. D aren't a good match.

It's sounding a lot like your trainer just doesn't think, so it's possible that you and HER aren't a good match.

I've worked places that I absolutely loved. But I didn't get along with management/co-workers, and that made my job hell. Even in recreation (which is restricted to playing WoW and SL most days due to my stupid health and the whole "crap I can hardly walk" stuff), I've met people that I just love, but I don't mesh with them. I LOVED my last guild, but I wasn't getting anywhere. So I moved.

I think, even just from my short time reading, that you and Denali have an amazing chance to be a great team, you just need time and patience. There's no sense rushing anything you do with animals.

Also, the boot thing sounds like a great idea. :)

Gingham said...

Kudos to you for thinking this out. I've only been reading for a short time, but I'm a seattle-ite who treks east for my horse too... I grew up competing heavily, but just recently bought a new "project", who's the first horse of my "own" in over 10 years. She's rough, green, and probably more horse than I need for my reintroduction, but we're making it work.

I'm guessing that your trainer just isn't aligned with your goals. It sounds like she has good intentions and wants you to "succeed" with your riding and maybe she thinks that you just aren't happy with the speed of progression with Denali.

If YOU are confident that Denali is your partner, then that's all you need. Maybe try sitting down with her and clarifying your goals and expectations as an owner (and as Denali's partner)? If you don't have strict deadlines like showing at 2'6" by next summer, then who cares ho long it takes as long as you still love your mare and love the time you are spending with her.

Sure you could find a push button something that you would feel more confident on, but it doesn't sound like that's what you want. For me, I've just had to be honest about what's "fun" and why I want my horse. I want a partner, and I want to grow. She's a baby, so who knows what she'll grow into... I have no idea if she'll want to event like I used to, or if she'll want to be a trail horse, or a mom or what. but I have no problem finding out and making that work for US.
Maybe you need a new trainer who can work with Denali (for her development), give you lessons on a second horse (so that your skills progress) and then ALSO have the time to work with the two of you together. I don't know. I'm just rambling, but I feel your frustration. Support is important. especially when we rely on other's expertise...
I have no doubt that the two of you will find what's best. :)

Story said...

I'm not sure why people seem to think that having a horse means that you need to ride it. Even without riding you spend a lot of time working with Denali. What's wrong with that? And even if you do want to be riding her, why does it have to be a race to get there? You seem happy to take things at the pace they need to be taken at. I think that's wonderful!

I haven't ridden my mare in over a month so now half the barn thinks I'm some sort of neglectful owner. Say what?! My horse was ring sour, barn sour, and about everything else sour. But I'm supposed to be riding her every day apparently. Pft, whatever! We know ourselves, we know our horses, we do what's right for them.

I really know how you feel. Other people at my barn really don't understand what's going on with my horse. They mean well but often their "help" is not very helpful. Sometimes I feel like you, that I need to find a new barn to escape the preconceptions that surround me now but that is never so easy as it sounds.

I wish I had advice, but I don't. I sure hope you're able to find the right solution. Maybe it will be one that will apply in my situation as well!

goodtimetoreview said...

Okay this might sound completely obvious and you probably already have done this but have you taken lessons with your trainer and D? (or riding instructor and D) What I mean is when I got my OTTB my trainer/instructor guided me every step of the way. We did lessons on the ground, long line lessons, walk, trot, canter lessons, and now lunge line lessons (because my horse has gotten it in his brain he is a donkey). Everything is carefully and fully explained to me as its getting done. When he gets nervous, correction…when I get nervous, she talks me through it, and if it’s still making me nervous she brings it back a step and we work on something less scary. She doesn’t push me harder than I want to be pushed. And same goes for him. Yesterday on our lunge lesson I told her I wanted to canter and she said “Awesome! Let’s do it!” She has lots of experience with re training OTTB’s and understands why their brain work the way they do. While I sometimes feel like we are moving so slowly in our training, I’m learning soooo much. And while I’ve played with the idea of just sending my monster to a trainer for 30 or 60 days of training, he wouldn’t be trained for me; he’d be trained for them. This way my trainer/instructor is helping me train him the way I want him trained even if we are taking slow baby steps. (our main focus these days is getting him to MOVE! And not do his best impression of a statue which he thinks is more fun lately then working). So I dunno I guess I’m not 100% sure what your situation about trainer/instructors is and maybe I’m just a crazy person but I’d rather help train my horse rather than sit back and watch someone else do it. I always seem to get jealous when I see someone else riding my horse. Yep I’m a crazy person…its official…

Jay Jennings said...

@goodtimetoreview I'm in total agreement with her. 30~60 days training what do you learn from that? Why can't a good trainer help you train your horse in the same time frame. Plus I've always felt the money is better spent learning myself rather than just having someone else ride my horse when I should be doing the same. Plus the lessons learned will be transferable to other horses rather than just having someone else train my horse to be pushbutton.

I'm in 50% agreement with @Story... Just like people need vacations so do horses. I just got done reading an article by a chiro; she see so many horses ridden every day in the same exercises. There bodies get stiff and issues develop from so much repetition to the same exercise routines. Cross training is a good thing. Mix in trails, and the occasional jumping to a good dressage program (or vise versa). It breaks things up not only with the mental along with the physical. Another trainer I talk to also sees a lot of "the only time we trailer is to a show". In these particular cases shows are always stressful for the riders and thus transfers stress to the horses. Eventually leading to trailer sourness. Trailer rides should lead to something enjoy able and relaxing some times too; like a good trail ride.

As far as not riding being neglectful. In her situation as long as she's going out and visiting and working with the horse; it sounds like she's doing the right thing. But, in my case; while my exwife was trying to figure out what she wanted in life... Basically she left your horsed in a field for 2 years. The horses went from working 5 days a week to doing nothing with them. When the horse came back home to me, they seemed totally mental. I think some horses enjoy having a job; and appreciate the feeling when they know they've done a good job. And on busy weeks; where a horse may only be ridden once a week (i have 5) I can tell they get a bit stir crazy and a wanting the time out in the arena with us. Of course saying that I'm being totally subjective and some would claim its Anthropomorphism.

Drillrider said...

According to this trainer's own statements, Denali hasn't been in training since last August, so why exactly does this trainer have any say so over your decision??

I have friend that had the same experiences at a barn where every decision she made was critiqued by the trainer and barn owner.

The only thing they need to be concerned about is whether you pay your board and whether or not your horse is taken of.....the remainder is your own business!

GGGRRRR to barn "politics"!

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

I feel like slapping your trainer! LOL! I mean, so I haven't ridden my boy since Oct so does that mean I dump him and get another? And guess a lot, and I mean A LOT of people, that answer is a "YES." It's not to me. Denali is your girl, you have her hopefully for a very long time and you can do whatever you want with her, for her/your good. Whether it's riding, groundwork, grooming whatever. I think your husband in onto your trainer and I think your trainer does not have you as a priority, or your goals. Have u asked her what her goals of you and Denali are? I'm curious as to what she would say...that answer may tune you in to where her mind is.

SprinklerBandit said...

Before you jump ship (and I'm not saying you should), try to schedule some time to actually sit down and talk to your trainer. If she has a heads-up that you want to address your goals for yourself and Denali, should should be able to put her thoughts together and give you something more coherent.

Then, if you decide it's not going to work for you, find something that does.

Just my two cents... coming from someone who doesn't always think well on her feet.

necstrong said...

This made me so mad! You have a gorgeous filly, you love her, you WILL ride her. GET A NEW TRAINER WHO SUPPORTS YOU.

Anonymous said...

Don't you just love all arm-chair advice;) Anyhoo...agree with the first comment, his yard and experiance sound good. Once stress has been entrenched in a situation, you are bandaiding by trying to solve issues. I have gathered that you used to ride...hence not really green, just rusty. Read 'a good horse' blog, she has a wonderful natural horsemanship trainer who comes out occasionally and works with her a big youungster and gives homework for the interim. Do you need a leessee? You love her, but how many different and possibly conflicting messages can one keep sending a sensitive TB and have them remain sane? Your horse...ride her or love her or whatever, you are right about having no controll once she leaves your ownership. I must admit I have been reading for a while and mentioned your blog at work saying I felt it was going bad fast, and couldn't do a thing to stop it, that I felt frustrated when it was so straightforward with a dedicated owner and a lovely horse. I was off riding for SEVEN years with torn ligaments and coming back is VERY doable, but we are what we say, so if you SAY you are green...Good Luck! and Best Wishes!

Leah Fry said...

All I know is that it can take a really long time for a horse to settle in and for things to click. Moving into our 4th year together, Poco and I are now starting to gel both on the ground AND in the saddle.

I'd say as long as you and Denali are progressing at a rate that is acceptable to you, and if Denali seems happy about it, look for a more willing trainer and a barn with a more encouraging atmosphere.

Having my horses at home: priceless.

Jay Jennings said...

It was a pleasure meeting you today. Your comment about Cayenne was really sweet. She has had a long road. And in many ways our story together sounds much like yours and D's;

Which BTW as Anonymous pointed out here; I don't mean to be the "arm-chair advice" kinda person. I've always hated others at the barns always telling me what to; that an a now ex-spouse always telling me I was doing it wrong.

So with that said, I hope I've never offended you with my comments.

Hope to see you competing at future shows. Next time come meet the crew and my heard of rescues.

Denali's Mom said...

Jay, I will come meet them next time! Cayanne is huge! Much bigger than in pictures.

I don't consider anyone on here giving "arm chair advice" no worries! If you were at my barn continually telling me what to do, that's different! :) No one on here does that!

Jay Jennings said...

Well that wouldn't happen; barn and show etiquette are very important to us and I think it's a shame how some people act these days. Especially when kids are around; thats been my pet peeve for a while, we try to lead by example. Even our best of friends; some times I just cringe, bite my tongue, smile and nod.

With that said tho; for some reason online on blogs and in the forums it's a different story. Not that I would go out of my way to be mean and hurtful or am trying to tell anyone what to do.

For some reason I just really like sharing what we learned throughout the years. It probably comes from the fact that the horse community is just getting so small these days; and the web/social networks makes it so much easier to meet others in other places who have similar issues/situations in there own lives.

Allison said...

On the other hand... sending her away to have someone put 30-60 days of training on her might not be such a bad idea. She's not going to come back finished, but she might come back with a foundation that you can then build upon. It might give you both a better place to start from. If you find the right place, you could probably be included to a certain extent in the program.

Net said...

Only you can truly know the right answer for the two of you. It's NOT necessary to ride a horse to give it a good home, and it's not necessary to have things going perfectly immediately to have a good partnership.

I think your trainer may be hoping to have some honest discussions, not necessarily say "you can't do this!" If you make your interests clear, that you want this horse, she's your heart horse, and you hope things will work out for your riding, but regardless you're keeping her, that can help.

From your most recent posts, it sounded as if you want to be able to treat her as if she's not at all nervous, but that she is a little nervous/sensitive. Your trainer may just be saying she thinks your personalities aren't a match... but I bet with your love of her you can learn to adjust how you act. The dismounting thing struck me - with a normal sensitivity+nervousness horse, you can jump off. But if she's that sensitive, you're going to have to take things slower. With a normal sensitivity horse you don't have to be as careful putting the saddle on, but it sounds like you have to very gently put it on her. These are things you can learn, and with your love for her you seem willing to learn.

I'd say if your trainer isn't teaching you the things you need to understand to know the difference between how she will react and how a dead-broke mellow horse will, she needs to. Your education should be about far more than just riding, and you have every right to expect that level of helpful and supportive work from a trainer.

If you request it, and your trainer WILL teach you those things, that's different.

From what I'm reading, your natural tendencies and Denali's personality aren't a perfect fit... but I see no reason why you can't learn more to make both your lives easier, especially as you seem to want to learn. Would a low-energy, dead-broke horse be easier for you? Of course! But if your heart's with Denali, that doesn't make "easy" the right thing!

Net said...

Oh, and I found your blog from a google reader recommendation, fyi, since you asked that a few posts ago.