So, it’s been over a month since I’ve updated you. My father chided me on the phone Monday night for leaving my readers hanging. I said “but dad, no one wants to hear the bad parts” but he told me you all deserved a run-down of events (and depressing ramblings) regardless.
I figured I would utilize my lunch break today to check-out of work for moment and to take the opportunity to reunite with my blogger-friends.
Through most of June I had been doing a good job of riding about 4 days a week and sometimes even seeing Granite more often than that. Unfortunately, none of my rides had been much fun. Granite is completely distracted by ANYTHING that takes place anywhere on the premises. He was spooking at things he has seen 100 times and at one point when he took off and almost careened into a fence, for the first time I felt scared on board my horse. That is not a feeling that I welcome. I am a self-proclaimed timid rider (you will NOT see me ever riding cross-country…no no no!) and its been so wonderful to have felt confident on my 3 year old during his whole first year under saddle. He may not have been perfect, but he was always level headed and honest. That’s all I ask. But that was the highlight of a downward spiral for us in June.
I like to think Granite hasn’t just jumped into the looney bin. There had to be factors contributing to his behavior. I think I can name a few. He was moved into a solitary pasture and his stall-mate moved into the “big” barn so he literally never got to touch the nose of another horse. He is an extremely social boy and he plays with others to the point of their annoyance. If you get him with another social horse, they play for hours on end. Taking all of that stimulation away from him was a lot and I think when I took him out, he has so much pent up anxiety (herd animals don’t rest well when alone either since no one is there to stand watch while they lay down). It was also very hot and he wasn’t getting to come in much at all. This normally would be fine with me since I prefer him being out 24/7 anyway, but it was HOT and there was no shelter in his pasture/ Some trees that provided an amount of shade, but no shelter from the elements. I don’t think these factors completely resulted in his behavior issues under saddle, but I think they compounded a big, strong 4 year old already trying to test his limits.
I realized that my problems with him undersaddle had not gotten any better in a month and I clearly was hitting a wall and with my confidence waning, I was not going to prevail. So, I called Becky. And I begged. She told me her barn was jam packed, but she would make room for us for a temporary training situation. If she can work through some of his bending, collecting, straightness, suppleness issues, then I can hopefully regain the positive tract we had been on late this winter into early spring.
So, although I felt guilty doing so, I gave the barn manager about 6 hours notice (it was the 1st of the month when I found out Becky could take him and I had no contract… so, who wants to worry about prorates?) and got Granite (and all of our stuff) out and on the road back to Becky’s barn. Her barn is 1 hour away from my office then 25 minutes back to my house which makes it difficult to see my horse much, but I knew it would be worth it for at least a month to let him decompress, get his head on straight, then have some tuning up with his Kindergarten Teacher. My horse was a different horse the day after he arrived at Becky’s. He was my dead-head, easy going, lazy boy again! Its like he kept thanking me. He went back into his huge pasture with 4 friends and he loved every moment.
I’m hoping Becky has some time in the saddle with him in the coming weeks. Now that we are past having lost THREE shoes in one shoeing cycle and the temps in the triple-digits, I think she will be able to concentrate on getting him back on the right track. At least I hope so.
All of the drama and the issues with Granite had really caused me some burn out. I was dreading going to the barn where I was constantly worried about Granite not being happy or safe. He was a terror to ride and I never looked forward to THAT after a long day at work. I was spending money and time right and left on extra farrier and emergency vet farm calls.
The events of late spring/ early summer completely shot my motivation and eagerness to be with my horse, at the barn, or even thinking about equines. It’s happened to me before (after a few years of showing heavily and being disappointed with a 2nd or 3rd place). I don’t know if “normal” horse people get to the point where they question being horse people. I start to think, I could be looking into buying a home (or at least a new car) if I didn’t have the horse. Yes, I could go visit my friend in Denver if I didn’t have the horse. Sure, I could have more time for my friends if I wasn’t juggling my whole life plus the horse. Maybe having a horse, being a public servant who plans to marry a school teacher is unreasonable…maybe its selfish. I know that I will never have the means to compete on any recognized level or with any regularity. Should I even own this lovely, large, talented warmblood… if we will never have the opportunity to really BE anything? These are the thoughts I start to think and when I know I’ve burnt myself out. Maybe they are legitimate thoughts, maybe I’m just in a equine-slump.
I know I would be lost without horses. I know I have committed to Granite. But at this juncture in my life, when I don’t see him I feel guilty and when I do go see him, it’s mostly out of obligation. That’s never fun, and I spent a lot of time and money on that horse because its my passion. It should be a reward for me (for the most part) to get to see my horse or ride or to even have him in my life. I have to take this opportunity to re-evaluate.
So while Granite is at training, I’m trying to take some time away. Yes, I still go see him 3-4 times a week. But I’ve only been on his back 1 time (bareback for about 15min) in the last three weeks. I’m trying to remove the guilt when I don’t make time for him by saying “he’s in training, he doesn’t need me right now.” I’m training for a ½ marathon in November, and while I’ll probably never do another one, I want to make training for this goal a priority. I want to readjust to what it is that I love about my horse and I want him to be able to be a horse and be happy. I hope to road trip with my best friend to a 3-day event in the next couple of months. I know not having any "barn friends" has a lot to do with it. Growing up, I always had my best friend to ride with and I looked forward to the camaraderie as much as I did the horses. Now its just me and G for the most part and I think just talking about horses and goals and riding will help me remember why invigorates me about it all.
In the meantime, I’m looking for a barn next to my office (so I can see him on my lunch if necessary, or every day for a few minutes at least when I don’t have time to ride). I think I’ve found a place. Its definitely not fancy, but its in my price range, he would have a stall but it opens to the pasture and he can choose when he is in or out. The owner lives on site and she seemed really open to me having my own farrier/trainer/vet if I wanted. She can feed and hold for me. Theres no wash stall or hot water and the “arena” is just an area of the pasture marked off for riding. But I think being able to have a good relationship with the owner and her being willing to work to achieve a situation Granite is happiest in may overcome the physical facilities. Her horses (6 of them) were in good shape and she has a 40 yr old Arabian on site (I like the longevity). I’ve asked if I can put a deposit down to hold the spot until Granite is done with training (a few weeks). I’m awaiting a returned call on that. She is located 4 miles from some awesome trails and she says she likes to go to the occasional local fun show. Maybe for now, maybe even for always I should work toward trail rides and fun shows. Maybe I even look into getting a college student to catch-ride Granite 1-2 times a week so I won’t feel guilty when I need to spend the evening running, or with friends, or with TK. Maybe someone with the time and money for shows (and no horse for whatever reason) takes Granite to the level he deserves to be at, and I support them all the way?? Thoughts.
Speaking of TK…. He got a JOB J 17 minutes from MY JOB! And 3 miles from the aforementioned barn. When our lease is up in December, we will be moving one county east. I will cease commuting and will begin living, working, and riding in the same area!!! Hopefully not spending hours of every day in the car will help me to relax and enjoy riding again.
Sorry for the depressingness--- see Daddy, I told you they didn’t want to hear my complaints.
Hope everyone out there is well. I AM keeping up with your blogs J