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Daatje
Apr. 4, 2011, 02:00 PM
I'm posting this here mainly because I need to get this off my chest and I think writing it down may help. It's in the Eventing forum because eventing is where my heart is and it's where my current heart horse will never take me.

I should preface this with the statement: I currently have limited resources and can only own one horse at a time.

Back up 10 years. I was fresh out of college and working at a show barn that imported Friesians from Holland. I had always thought Friesians were beautiful, and loved their romantic look and kind, thoughtful dispositions. Daatje was born during my first winter there and a month later orphaned when her dam succumed to colic. I bottle fed her and instantly fell in love.

We had such a connection. When she turned six months of age, I bought her and took her home.

What was I thinking? An eventer buying a Friesian? I think in the back of my mind, I figured that just about any sound horse can make it around BN, and being limited to that level was ok with me. We'd get good at dressage and then tool around at the lowest level for fun.

Sounds like a plan, right? Sigh.

Fast forward ten years later.....present day. Horse and I became decent at 1st level dressage, not great, but can get 70's on a good day. We were in training with a GP level rider for a few years, and I discovered that ascending 1st level with this horse would take a committment of time and money that I was not in a position to fulfill. Lessons became more frustration and less learning and we both needed a break. So we stopped the lessons, happily versed in the 1st level and that is where we'll stay, for now.

I brought her home from the dressage barn and began her training over poles and cross rails. She took to jumping well and over the years, despite her breed, has proven to be athletic and competent up to 3'3", although she's more comfortable with staying under 2'9". So.....that should put us on track for my plans, right? Tooling around at BN should be no problem on a horse that is capable of 3'3", right? Sigh.

This horse has been on the roads and trails since she was 4. Despite all of the training and exposure, she remains a skeptic with regards to her environment and under no circumstances will she go in an "unknown" direction (translate as "away from whence we came") at speed. Walk down the road to the trails? Fine. Trot? Ok, but with hesitation. Canter away into the unknown? Forget it, not unless another equid is going first. You can imagine this becomes and issue when facing the outside of a starting box, staring at a course she's never done. Forward? Fuggetaboutit.

I've tried everything, nothing will get her past this ingrained stubborness and mental hang-up, nothing. In 2008 a clinician suggested I try foxhunting her, to get her exposed to strange places with the comfort of other horses surrounding her.

So in late summer of 2008, we began foxhunting. Daatje took to it very well, loving the adventure in a group and finding the activities of the hounds facinating. By the end of 2008 we were regularly hunting 2nd flight and even occasionally visiting the 1st flight. 2009 brought more of the same, it was a great year for foxhunting. The going was a bit wet, so the faster horses were slowed and Daatje had no problem keeping up with the field. She jumped well that year, behind some very forward thinking horses and was beginning to feel like we could try our hand at a 2 phase to see if foxhunting had helped broaded her horizons and given her more confidence.

Enter 2010. She'd been jumping well at home, so I entered the GHF 2-phase to see what she'd bring to the table in a schooling show. We put in a great dressage test, but were eliminated in stadium at the first fence we were asked to jump *away* from the direction from whence we came. She was jumping beautifully, those first few fences, that were approached in the direction towards warm-up. As soon as we turned the corner to approach a jump facing the other way, she stopped dead in her tracks. Dead. in. her. tracks. And not even in front of the jump....she quit LONG before we got there. Sigh.

I no longer get upset at her. She's telling me eventing not what she wants to do, and that's ok, very dissapointing, but ok. We still foxhunt, which she is agreeable to, as long as we're in a group, but even there, I feel stifled. I want to be riding 1st flight, behind the hounds, galloping as fast as the master and jumping every obstacle.....she's not fast enough or brave enough. I want to compete in hunter trials with my hunting friends. I want to event. I'd love to go for a trail ride and not have to kick like a kid on a Thelwell pony every time we come to an obstacle (real or imagined) the mare has an opinion about. I'd love to be sitting on a forward thinking horse, not one who looks behind her every step to see if we can turn around and go home. I'm so limited by my horse. So limited. I'm incredibly saddened that I have given my heart to this horse, for the past 10 years, and she is not the one who will take me where I want to go, not even at the lowest of levels.

Why not just sell her and move on, you ask? That would be the most logical thing to do. I'm usually a very logical person.

If only it were that easy. I love her. She's so comfortable, she's so safe, so sensible, so easy to own, so easy to travel with, so much my "best friend". I get sick to my stomach at the thought of selling her, the thought of someone else owning her.

At the same time, she's so frustrating, so limiting (for me...for a dressage rider, she'd be a dream mount), so *not* everything I (think I) need in a horse to take me where I (think I) want to go.....to allow me to participate in the activities that are calling to me....

I just can't bring myself to say goodbye. Why? Why do I love this horse so much? Why am I being so impractical about this? I'm so confused. This isn't like me.

I just can't imagine my life without her in it. Could it be possible that eventing, hunting 1st flight and competing in hunter trials isn't as important to me as I think it is? I didn't think so, but the fact that she's still in my barn makes me wonder....

Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I'm thinking that someday I'll have the means for 2 horses and then Daatje can stay in the family, be my best friend, and the 2nd horse will meet my competitive ambitions.....

That must be it. Patience is a virtue, I suppose...

Damn, if you've read this far, you've got some patience! ;)

And yes, I think I do feel better having typed out what's been weighing on my mind......(I think)

shadowsfallfarm
Apr. 4, 2011, 02:09 PM
Well, I don't have any advice, only wanted to say that I am going through the same dilemma with my shetland pony. I want to be in the show ring, driving her around and competing, but she is telling me more and more that driving is not her thing. She is a feisty little thing, but beautiful and we have a great bond. I haven't figured what I am going to do with her as well, as I don't really want to sell her or get a second horse. But in order to accomplish my goals, I will have to do one or the other I guess.
Anyways, just wanted to let you know you weren't alone in your dilemma.
Amanda

Cruiser12
Apr. 4, 2011, 02:10 PM
Well that just really sucks doesn't it?!

Have you tried or considered putting her in training with an Eventer and leaving her for a month? Is it possible that your fondness for her is also a limitation in her training? Not saying it is, I have NO clue.

IMO- which isn't worth a whole lot because I am not in your shoes, I would send her to a good trainer for at least a month, have them concentrate on XC and stadium and see how that goes.

Good luck and keep us posted.

trubandloki
Apr. 4, 2011, 02:16 PM
You have this debate every year......

Barnfairy
Apr. 4, 2011, 02:17 PM
This is why those old books about horses tell us not to fall in love with them.

Easier said than done. Isn't that why we get into this in the first place, because we love horses?

Have you considered leasing her?

Or how about some form of catch riding, perhaps getting your speed/jumping fix working with other people's horses?

eponacowgirl
Apr. 4, 2011, 02:20 PM
I would absolutely send her to a trainer for a month and just SEE if there is a spark.

If she doesn't find it, why not lease her to someone who would like to do some lower field fox hunting and dressage work and possibly tadpole eventing- if she'll trot around a course on her own, which maybe she won't- and you either buy or lease something you can enjoy. Then, one day, when you CAN own two horses, you can get your baby back (and if you find the right leasee, still enjoy her from time to time meanwhile) and have the dream eventer to ride.

The purchase price of a new pone shouldn't limit you- see my thread on my first training CT with the horse I snapped up for a few hundred dollars off CL.

Just because your gal is not perfect shouldn't mean you have to give her up and doesn't mean she's not perfect for someone else. :)

Daatje
Apr. 4, 2011, 02:39 PM
Well, I don't have any advice, only wanted to say that I am going through the same dilemma with my shetland pony. I want to be in the show ring, driving her around and competing, but she is telling me more and more that driving is not her thing. She is a feisty little thing, but beautiful and we have a great bond. I haven't figured what I am going to do with her as well, as I don't really want to sell her or get a second horse. But in order to accomplish my goals, I will have to do one or the other I guess.
Anyways, just wanted to let you know you weren't alone in your dilemma.
Amanda

Thanks Shadowsfallfarm. :) I'm sorry you're in the same place I've been for the past 5 years! I'm sure you'll work something out with your pony, just as I will too, eventually.

Daatje
Apr. 4, 2011, 02:41 PM
You have this debate every year......

Trubankdloki, this debate is a daily thing for me. Daily. If only it were once a year.....sometimes it helps me to share it, roughly once a year, it would seem. :lol:

Ponyclubrocks
Apr. 4, 2011, 02:41 PM
How about leasing her to a dressage rider? I feel for you.

baxtersmom
Apr. 4, 2011, 02:42 PM
I'm glad other people mentioned leasing - it was my first thought. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who would just die to do a season of dressage on a Friesian - and at least around here, there are always more LL event horses than there are experienced riders to show them the ropes. Perhaps after a year you would realize that you can't live without her... or that you can't live without eventing.

Cruiser12
Apr. 4, 2011, 02:42 PM
Trubankdloki, this debate is a daily thing for me. Daily. If only it were once a year.....sometimes it helps me to share it, roughly once a year. :lol:

Sharing is good!

Daatje
Apr. 4, 2011, 02:47 PM
Well that just really sucks doesn't it?! You said it! But it is self inflicted, so I really shouldn't complain....

Have you tried or considered putting her in training with an Eventer and leaving her for a month? Is it possible that your fondness for her is also a limitation in her training? Not saying it is, I have NO clue.
I hadn't really thought of that. I dunno though, her issues are deep rooted into her personality, and I'm not sure another rider would make a difference. Definitely a thought, though.
IMO- which isn't worth a whole lot because I am not in your shoes, I would send her to a good trainer for at least a month, have them concentrate on XC and stadium and see how that goes.

Good luck and keep us posted.

Thanks, I'll definitely keep you posted.

goodmorning
Apr. 4, 2011, 02:52 PM
Having ridden a couple Fresian's, I think the tendency to be stubborn is a breed characteristic ;) Then add in mare to the equation, and...

Have you put her on Depo or Regumate? Is there a barn you can put her at that is very open, with fields for you to hack in regularly? What is her turnout situation like? Single, or with another horse(s)? I would take a serious look at her management at home to see if you can eliminate anything that encourages herd-bound behavior.

There are some things you can try, but if all else fails, I think she would make someone else very happy. Sounds like you are have tried a lot, good luck - and selling a horse isn't a bad thing.

Come Shine
Apr. 4, 2011, 02:57 PM
Could it be possible that eventing, hunting 1st flight and competing in hunter trials isn't as important to me as I think it is?

Is it possible for you to do a short-term lease on a horse that CAN do these things? You may love it and then have no second thoughts about finding a more suitable partner or you will get it out of your system and then be able to keep on with your girl without wondering what-if?

yellowbritches
Apr. 4, 2011, 03:03 PM
I don't have a whole lot of time to write you a big, heartfelt response, but I TOTALLY feel your pain in this. Vernon, whom I adore and have lovingly developed as an eventer since he was 3, has finally gotten it through my very thick skull that he HATES the dressage part of the game with a fiery passion from hell. He has made me miserable, and he has been miserable as we've fought and argued our way through dressage schools at home, and the anxiety of the ring at shows. I LOVE this horse (and walking around xc at Morven yesterday and seeing some fun prelim and intermediate fences yesterday made me very sad).

So, I get it. And I'm sorry.

howardh
Apr. 4, 2011, 03:03 PM
Well, you are obviously a great horse owner and care about your horse, but if you can only have one you need to go with a horse that will give you the fix you need or one day you will wake up and have missed riding first flight as you are old and creaky and no longer have the desire and that would be sad.

From what you have written you like to bond with a horse and catch riding won't make you happy.

And who is to say your mare would not be happier trotting around a nice woman's manicured pasture: a woman who has always wanted a Friesian for the big mane and tail and requires nothing more from her than to look pretty and hairy and never leave the security of home?

Just sayin'. Maybe she loves you too but her dream is to be a pasture puff!!!:winkgrin:

Daatje
Apr. 4, 2011, 03:06 PM
You know, I really hadn't thought of leasing to be an option. In all truth, leasing scares the crap outta me. I don't know why...I've leased horses when I was a kid, never leased one out myself, though, and the thought of having someone else care for her even in the short term gives me the willies. (why am I being so possessive?!?)

Others outside of the interwebs have made that suggestion to me as well, so maybe I should consider it on a deeper level. I see where it could provide me with a glimpse of what life would be like without her, without going "cold turkey" so to speak.

I've been offered catch rides this season too. I don't know if they will come to fruition, but the offers have been extended...

Falling in love with a horse....absolutely the best and worst thing that can happen to a person!

Daatje
Apr. 4, 2011, 03:13 PM
Well, you are obviously a great horse owner and care about your horse, but if you can only have one you need to go with a horse that will give you the fix you need or one day you will wake up and have missed riding first flight as you are old and creaky and no longer have the desire and that would be sad.
Thank-you, and you are right. That thought has crossed my mind more than once. I'm not getting any younger!

From what you have written you like to bond with a horse and catch riding won't make you happy.
Very true. I don't believe catch riding would ultimately satisfy me. You are very perceptive!

And who is to say your mare would not be happier trotting around a nice woman's manicured pasture: a woman who has always wanted a Friesian for the big mane and tail and requires nothing more from her than to look pretty and hairy and never leave the security of home?

Just sayin'. Maybe she loves you too but her dream is to be a pasture puff!!!:winkgrin: You just described Daatje's dream home. To a "T".



Wow. You nailed it. And the only thing preventing this from happening is my emotional hang-up on how much I do love her.

Daatje
Apr. 4, 2011, 03:17 PM
I don't have a whole lot of time to write you a big, heartfelt response, but I TOTALLY feel your pain in this. Vernon, whom I adore and have lovingly developed as an eventer since he was 3, has finally gotten it through my very thick skull that he HATES the dressage part of the game with a fiery passion from hell. He has made me miserable, and he has been miserable as we've fought and argued our way through dressage schools at home, and the anxiety of the ring at shows. I LOVE this horse (and walking around xc at Morven yesterday and seeing some fun prelim and intermediate fences yesterday made me very sad).

So, I get it. And I'm sorry.

Thanks Yellowbritches, it's nice to hear from someone who's been there. I don't know why I'm so head-over-heels for this mare, but I am. It doesn't make sense. I'm actually "off my feed" because I'm so depressed about it today. Not even hungry....

Daatje
Apr. 4, 2011, 03:21 PM
Having ridden a couple Fresian's, I think the tendency to be stubborn is a breed characteristic ;) Then add in mare to the equation, and...you have Daatje. (grin)

Have you put her on Depo or Regumate? I've thought of it...she gets even more opinionated when in heat. Is there a barn you can put her at that is very open, with fields for you to hack in regularly? What is her turnout situation like? 24/7 individual turn out with a run in. No direct pasture buddies, but horses across the fence. Single, or with another horse(s)? I would take a serious look at her management at home to see if you can eliminate anything that encourages herd-bound behavior.

There are some things you can try, but if all else fails, I think she would make someone else very happy. Sounds like you are have tried a lot, good luck - and selling a horse isn't a bad thing.

I know, it would probably be a very good thing. It's just so hard. There would be many tears, I could tell you that....woah, I'm welling up just thinking about it!

Daatje
Apr. 4, 2011, 03:23 PM
Sharing is good!

Thanks Cruiser12. :)

GotSpots
Apr. 4, 2011, 03:32 PM
I would start by sending her to a talented pro for a month or two and see what happens, before I made any decisions. I've seen a number of horses who do just fine once they understand that while they may not love love love XC, they can go away from other horses and survive. You're not asking anything unreasonable. You're not asking her to jump off a cliff, or stay away forever - you're asking her to jump a jump pointing away from her friends.

To me, this is much less a "deep rooted part of her personality" and much more a training issue. She has learned, along the way, that not going forward is an acceptable alternative, that she can out-stop and out-wait you, and that the consequences are not a big deal. In short - love her or not - she's got your number. And, at the moment, she's pretty unsellable if she can't be trusted to even go on a trail ride by herself or hop over a log away from the in-gate. She may never be the bravest thing in the world, but ANY horse can learn to at least go around the ring by itself.

I don't mean this to be harsh. But try to read what you wrote setting aside that you adore her, and you'll see the point. Unless there's a physical issue here - and it doesn't sound like there is - she's got a pretty basic hole in her going-forward buttons.

Daatje
Apr. 4, 2011, 03:54 PM
I don't mean this to be harsh. But try to read what you wrote setting aside that you adore her, and you'll see the point. Unless there's a physical issue here - and it doesn't sound like there is - she's got a pretty basic hole in her going-forward buttons.

Not taken as harsh. :) For the longest time, she had zero forward button. It's taken me this long, with the help of some very accomplished pro's, to get her to where she is.....a selective forward button.

When a horse does not respond to whip or spurs, what else is there? And I'm talking *no response*. Nothing. Nada.

That's what happens when she's fronts her stubborn streak. Thankfully, this does not happen at home, or she'd be beastial to ride. On the contrary, she's quite pleasant to ride at home, on the flat and over fences. Even at dressage shows away from home, she's fine. It's only "on course" that she continues to show her stubborn streak.

I'm no dummy and have started my fair share of horses. Knowing her as well as I do, I honestly don't believe a pro would get any further with her than I have. Short of beating her silly, (which would be totally inappropriate), what would they have to offer, that I haven't already been instructed (by pros) to try? It's one of my fears that if I turned her over to someone else, they'd beat her out of frustration because when she tunes the rider out, whip and spurs have little effect and it would be very easy to lose your temper. Especially if you had no love for the horse.

On Second Thought
Apr. 4, 2011, 04:03 PM
I agree with Got Spots.

It seems to me you have a few options:


Continue how you are, which based on all responses that indicate you've complained about this frequently, isn't healthy. You either need to decide you're OK with it as it is or you're not.
Sell her, which you can't see yourself doing, so that's out
Lease a horse or catch ride, which in and of itself has it's downfalls
Send her to a pro, which honestly, IMO is the best option (unless you can wrangle your psyche into accepting option #1). I'm not gonna lie, you're response of "what would a pro do that I wouldn't do," makes it sound like either you've never seen what a truly good pro can do or that you have some control issues.

Cruiser12
Apr. 4, 2011, 04:20 PM
HEY, I wonder if Free Jumping in an arena (or somewhere) and have her jump AWAY from the door would break the mental block??

kcmel
Apr. 4, 2011, 04:21 PM
I agree with sending her to a pro. I have trouble discerning between whether I am asking my horse for too much or whether he is taking advantage of me. My trainer is never in doubt (it's always the latter ;)).

Daatje
Apr. 4, 2011, 04:35 PM
I'm not gonna lie, you're response of "what would a pro do that I wouldn't do," makes it sound like either you've never seen what a truly good pro can do or that you have some control issues.[/LIST]

Maybe I haven't seen what a "truly good" pro can do, but I know that if this horse really enjoyed galloping and jumping cross country solo, I wouldn't have need for a "truly good" pro.

I don't believe sending her for jump training would yeild a good return on the investment. Dressage trainer, yes. Jump, not so much. It's an idea though....maybe I'll look into it....I'd still be skeptical of the results.

Regardless, I wasn't seeking training advice with my lament, it was just that, a lament on a rainy Monday after a tough Sunday ride on a mare that I love but who frustrates the stuffing out of me. To ride her is to know her, she's hard to explain and you wouldn't "get it" unless you were in the irons.

I'm probably being too "Eeyore" about the whole thing and shouldn't trouble the greater world with my insignificant conundrum.

It felt good to share my thoughts though....I finally did eat lunch.

NMK
Apr. 4, 2011, 04:44 PM
I find it easier to sell a horse if I really like the person that wants to buy it. There is no harm with "vetting" a potential owner of your horse. I find peace knowing that the new owner will know the horse's attributes but also know its limitations.

IFG
Apr. 4, 2011, 04:51 PM
I don't think that you are over-analyzing. I agree, the pro might make her do it, but she still wouldn't want to do it. You want a horse that wants to do it. There is nothing wrong with that. My main concern would be that something bad might happen to her down the line. One way to avoid that is to find someone who really wants her. It may involve taking a bath on the price, but I do think that you both might be happier.

Good luck!

scubed
Apr. 4, 2011, 04:58 PM
Send her to a pro that you trust and get recommendations about. I can recommend a couple that I can guarantee would not lose their temper and would be very honest in their evaluation. Do it for a month or two and get an evaluation from them. If she isn't going to be an event horse and you don't want to sell, I highly recommend leasing. I seem to end up doing this with nice enough horses I have that *aren't* my heart horses, so I don't necessarily want to ride them if they don't want to be easy. And hopefully, you can find some horses to try out that will event. I've had a couple that seemed there should be no reason they couldn't event, but it just wasn't their thing. I am selling one and leasing one right now and will see what happens. Sometimes, temporary solutions are great because the right permanent one will reveal itself.

GotSpots
Apr. 4, 2011, 05:06 PM
Honestly, I don't think you know enough to know. You know that she's got a huge hole in her "forward" button, to the extent that she has one at all. You know that she's got your number and quits which she wants to. And you know that she's trained you to be ok about the fact that when she decides she wants to go back to the barn, she can. There's a big difference between a well-trained horse who doesn't love their job and one who is spoiled and/or lacking a work ethic. Right now, what you've got is one who is much more then latter than the former. She may never be super brave and always want to have a good look at something new, but because of the holes in her training, you can't even get her to jump a single jump facing away from the gate. That's not a "want" or a "love" issue - that's a basic fundamental that she's lacking. And without installing it, I don't think you have a good way of judging what she might like doing or not.

Not sure where you're located, but happy to suggest a couple of pros who might be able to help, or at least explain to her that blowing you off when you ask her to move forward isn't an acceptable outcome. This does not mean beating on her. But it does mean educating her in a way that she can understand that forward means forward - which is the precursor to every other step of her education. I know it kind of sucks to hear that - but sometimes it's much easier with someone who isn't emotionally attached to a horse.

acking01
Apr. 4, 2011, 05:17 PM
I posted a very similar thread about 2.5 months ago regarding my old mare: http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=288518&highlight=when+is+it+time+to+sell%3F

I always considered Cricket my "forever horse" even though I knew that we were not a good match and that she had my number in a bad way. I owned her for 6 years and most of that time we spent butting heads undersaddle. About 2 years ago, I finally began to consider leasing her out. I posted her on the giveaways 2x, but anytime someone expressed interest in her, my heart ached too much and I immediately took her off the market. I knew I was miserable most days when riding her, but I assumed that I would be even more miserable without her.

It finally got to the point where I didn't even want to ride her and began letting some of the lesson kids at my barn school her for me. What do you know, she was much more willing and responsive with them even though they were novices and made lots of mistakes. I began to realize that although I loved her dearly and she was quite fond of me, we were both very unhappy when I was on her. I finally bit the bullet and told my BO that she was officially for sale, but I knew I would be extremely picky in where she ended up, so considered that she may actually never sell. :lol:

She sold in 3 weeks to the first (and only) young girl that tried her out and they are a match made in heaven!! Turns out Cricket is much happier carting a beginner rider over small x-rails and that I was just putting too much pressure on her. She is extremely athletic, but is also super alpha and could not stand being given direction by me. She is at my barn still and I get to see her whenever I want, although some days it is hard knowing that she is no longer my horse. I finally realize, though, that this is ultimately the best situation for both of us.

I also found a horse that is a perfect match for me and I could not be happier! I knew within the first ride that I was meant to own her!!! She is very similar to Cricket, but the best part is that Cricket's "best day" is this mare's everyday attitude! I am glad I made the decision I did, but it took me a long time to do it. I completely understand what you're going through, so PM me if you ever need to talk. Don't be afraid to consider that your mare may be just as happy, if not more-so, with another owner. :sadsmile:

-Amy

Janet
Apr. 4, 2011, 05:22 PM
It sounds to me as if a big part of the problem may be "orphan foal syndrome". It is really typical for orphan foals to be "difficult" in that way. And the fact that you "bonded" with her only makes it more so.

I'd find someone who has experience dealing with "grown up" orphan foals.
(Also see the article in the latest issue of either PH or Equus)

Daatje
Apr. 4, 2011, 05:31 PM
Honestly, I don't think you know enough to know. Wow, that's presumtuous. How can you say that when you don't know me. I absolutely DO know enough to know. You know that she's got a huge hole in her "forward" button, to the extent that she has one at all. You know that she's got your number and quits which she wants to. And you know that she's trained you to be ok about the fact that when she decides she wants to go back to the barn, she can. Boy do you have that wrong. I've NEVER let her get away with what you're saying here. It's miserable for me, but I make damn well sure that mare does what I've asked her to do. She just doesn't do it willingly enough the first time to get past the big "E" in competition. There's a big difference between a well-trained horse who doesn't love their job and one who is spoiled and/or lacking a work ethic. She was born without a work ethic, but is most definitely not spoiled. Right now, what you've got is one who is much more then latter than the former. She may never be super brave and always want to have a good look at something new, but because of the holes in her training, you can't even get her to jump a single jump facing away from the gate. Yes I can, and I have....just not at the GHF 2-phase which I used as an example. That's not a "want" or a "love" issue - that's a basic fundamental that she's lacking. And without installing it, I don't think you have a good way of judging what she might like doing or not. Oh trust me, I've owned this horse for 10 years. I know what she enjoys and what she doesn't. And she has no problem going forward doing what she loves. (dressage)

Not sure where you're located, but happy to suggest a couple of pros who might be able to help, or at least explain to her that blowing you off when you ask her to move forward isn't an acceptable outcome.I explain this to her EVERY ride. This does not mean beating on her. I know that, but I'm afraid another rider might not. But it does mean educating her in a way that she can understand that forward means forward - which is the precursor to every other step of her education.She knows what I want when I'm asking, education is not the issue, her strong and stubborn will is. I know it kind of sucks to hear that - but sometimes it's much easier with someone who isn't emotionally attached to a horse.

Got Spots, I find it hard to believe that you feel you can make these blatant statements about the relationship between my horse and I, and about what goes on during our rides, when you've never met either of us. Really. I never said I let her get away with her stubborn behavior. Ever. It just sucks the fun out of riding her when she's like that. Jeez.

Daatje
Apr. 4, 2011, 05:35 PM
It sounds to me as if a big part of the problem may be "orphan foal syndrome". It is really typical for orphan foals to be "difficult" in that way. And the fact that you "bonded" with her only makes it more so.

I'd find someone who has experience dealing with "grown up" orphan foals.
(Also see the article in the latest issue of either PH or Equus)

I've always suspected that she has been more difficult because of her upbringing. I will look for those articles, thanks.

Old Fashioned
Apr. 4, 2011, 06:07 PM
I've been in that sinking boat and finally managed to rescue myself...

The time flies when you are trying to make it work doesn't it? There is always "maybe if I do this" or "maybe if I wait" the next thing you know it's been 3, 5, 7, or whatever years and you've maybe'd yourself out of the sport YOU want to do. And it's just as frustrating for your mare to have to fight you too. It's time to be objective and find a rider who's niche coincides what your horse want's to do. Know that you put a good foundation on her and that she would be happier with someone else who is more into what she likes to do. Then put your effort into finding a horse that loves what you want to do.

This is a choice you have to be ready to make. I know it's hard but in the long run BOTH of you will be happier.

Dry Clean Only
Apr. 4, 2011, 06:08 PM
Honestly, I don't think you know enough to know. You know that she's got a huge hole in her "forward" button, to the extent that she has one at all. You know that she's got your number and quits which she wants to. And you know that she's trained you to be ok about the fact that when she decides she wants to go back to the barn, she can. There's a big difference between a well-trained horse who doesn't love their job and one who is spoiled and/or lacking a work ethic. Right now, what you've got is one who is much more then latter than the former. She may never be super brave and always want to have a good look at something new, but because of the holes in her training, you can't even get her to jump a single jump facing away from the gate. That's not a "want" or a "love" issue - that's a basic fundamental that she's lacking. And without installing it, I don't think you have a good way of judging what she might like doing or not.

Not sure where you're located, but happy to suggest a couple of pros who might be able to help, or at least explain to her that blowing you off when you ask her to move forward isn't an acceptable outcome. This does not mean beating on her. But it does mean educating her in a way that she can understand that forward means forward - which is the precursor to every other step of her education. I know it kind of sucks to hear that - but sometimes it's much easier with someone who isn't emotionally attached to a horse.

This.

Your horse has a huge hole in her basic training and I'm sure her personality and upbringing are a factor. Some horses are much much more difficult to install one in.

She will only continue to break you and most other riders hearts until you a- retire her to nature puff/ pet status
or
b- find a professional you can trust to attempt to fix her.

If you can I think its worth it to try 'b' before 'a'.

Bogie
Apr. 4, 2011, 06:19 PM
It's very hard when your horse grows up and decides to be something other than what you wanted!

I've been in similar situations a few times. My first horse topped out and my trainer explained that I either needed to accept his limitations . . . or buy another horse. I ended up selling him and when that home didn't work out, taking him back and finding a better home.

I had an amazingly athletic and fancy Trakhener who I bought to event. He had a few "issues" that emerged as I started to ask him for more. They were probably related to some early "training" that involved poorly used draw reins. He felt trapped when you asked for any collection and would rear. I worked with a trainer who got him through the rearing issue but she told me in the nicest way that he did not have the mind to do dressage and that I should either sell him or give him another job.

I tried foxhunting with him and he loved it so that's what we did.

I think it's very hard to make a horse into a bold jumper. The good ones are very easy to start and look for the next fences; the timid ones are always looking for the escape route. This can really shoot your confidence to hell because then you are always anticipating that your horse will stop and it causes you to ride defensively. I've started several horses and two of them were just chickens -- one was a good jumper but only liked to jump stadium jumps (I did low jumpers with him) and one just never figured out what to do with her legs so I sold her to a non jumping home.

I think foxhunting was a good thing to try with your mare as jumping in a group like that can give a horse more confidence. Maybe you should get a pro to hunt her a few times and give you their opinion.

Otherwise I think that ultimately you have to make the choice: either give your mare a job she likes or buy another horse. It's a hard choice and what you decide has a lot to do with how much you like riding THAT horse versus what type of riding you would choose on your own.

Good luck!

GotSpots
Apr. 4, 2011, 06:20 PM
Daatje, I'm not making a personal attack. You were the one who said she didn't have a consistent go-forward button, and you said that she's stopping out at fences away from home/her friends. And what I meant when I said I think you didn't know enough to know, is that I think - in my own experience - that when a horse doesn't truly understand how to go forward, how to be on the aids and in front of your leg, that it can be hard to judge what their future job should be. And that's why I recommended talking to a pro - a good pro or very experienced rider, who has dealt with a horse who doesn't have much of a work ethic - and getting another viewpoint. Trust me, most good pros - at least the ones I've known and have been lucky enough to work with - get that while there is a proper way to make a point, beating a horse doesn't get you there.

All of this is, of course, assuming no physical issue with the mare. If she's truly going forward on the flat and just not to the jumps, I'd think there's something physical there. But it sounded like she didn't go forward consistently in any of these roles, which pointed to a training issue. You've so far not been able to resolve the training issue, so I suggested having someone else give it a solid try. Or not. Your horse.

JER
Apr. 4, 2011, 06:32 PM
I'm with IFG on this one.

IME, some horses like to venture out alone, some don't.

My old event packer loves to hunt and would go happily round an XC course but take him out on trail by himself? I don't think so. Yeah, you could do it. He'd stop every 20 feet, call out incessantly (and ear-splittingly), etc. You wouldn't have much fun and it's not for lack of training. That's who he is. Novelty is not his thing.

OTOH, my new just-turned-3 OTTB is always happy to head out in any direction and doesn't seem to care if he ever sees another horse. If he sees something new, he wants to investigate. Again, this has nothing to do with training because he has no training. :)

Horses are very generous with what they allow us to do in their lives. But sometimes we ask for things that aren't a good fit with them.

I'd lease her to someone with similar goals (intro hunting and dressage) and spend some time looking for a horse that better suits your goals. She can still be your horse and you can still enjoy her company. Neither one of you will miss the pressure of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Duckz
Apr. 4, 2011, 06:56 PM
If it were me, I would lease her out. She would make someone very, very happy. Then lease something that will make YOU happy. Both situations are temporary. You can test the waters.

Actually, if it were me I would send her to a trusted pro for a couple months. A fresh perspective could do wonders. Kind of a, "alright buck-o, last chance..." Then if that didn't work I'd do the above.

Just remember about the crazy person doing the same thing and expecting different results :) Good luck.

Fractious Fox
Apr. 4, 2011, 07:17 PM
I'm glad other people mentioned leasing - it was my first thought. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who would just die to do a season of dressage on a Friesian - and at least around here, there are always more LL event horses than there are experienced riders to show them the ropes. Perhaps after a year you would realize that you can't live without her... or that you can't live without eventing.

Reposting because I think this logic should be repeated and considered. :)

ss3777
Apr. 4, 2011, 07:46 PM
I feel your pain!!! I have a very nice TB that I got off the track. He has done everything I have asked of him, eventing, hunters, a little dressage some trail riding, camps etc etc and he has been sound, sound, sound. My challenge? Going XC is like pushing a thread up a hill!! Sure I can get him to do it but is it fun for either of us?? If you take him on a trail ride, he politely waits for another horse to go first. I watched one of his race videos, I thought he was the horse that came in last by a few lengths but I kept watching and then he came loping across the finish line..........well after the "last" horse! So after many years, I have him for sale. I am "vetting" each caller and I may end up keeping him but I have stopped trying to stuff a square peg into a round hole. Once I made the decision and put him on dream horse, nothing horrible happened! We still have an awesome relationship, I enjoy our lessons and I don't make him do something he just does not have the brain/heart for. I don't know about you but the thought of jumping solid jumps with a horse that is not happy going XC is just to scary for me!!

Good luck!!

InsideLeg2OutsideRein
Apr. 4, 2011, 08:14 PM
Oh boy, I pray that I don't have the opposite problem on my hands (mare that wants to jump when I want to bring along an FEI dressage mount)... :) She's brave, talented and fast and doesn't quite see the point of *submission* yet. ;0)

I agree with others about leasing. But there ARE other great homes out there. I always tend to think that I'm the only one who will take proper care of my horses, but at my barn, virtually every horse is treated like a king/queen. :)

OTTB FTW
Apr. 4, 2011, 09:11 PM
IMO, your situation has happened to most people who have been around horses long enough. For one reason or another, we end up with a horse that isn't right for its job, never was, isn't anymore etc. You have to make a tough decision without a good answer.

I don't know you, your riding and training skill, or your horse, really, other than what you have described. I do know though, that I believe what I was once told by a trainer:
You can usually find a way to make a horse do what it is physically capable of. BUT, its a hell of a lot easier and more fun to do it with a horse that wants to do it in the first place.

I've had some of each kind of horses over the years. Breed of the horse, past experiences the horse has had, and general psychological makeup of the horse, all play into what appears to come naturally to some, and what that something that comes naturally is. My current mare took me out and away in the orchards at a young, just turned 3yo age. Marched on out there even though she had never been out of her stall since weaning, other than to go to the race track. She is curious and game, and always looking for interesting things. She is easy. Once I had one with physical talent enough to do advanced, but came to me so psychologically scarred that he never ended up doing more than novice, scared to death, despite all the pro training and relationship building etc. I "hung in there" with him for 8 years, feeling responsible for him, knowing that he would never land a good life, given that as soon as you pressured him he would run sideways through small trees, down cliffs etc. The "hanging in there" kept me from what I wanted and loved to do. Eventually a friend helped me get him to his dream home. He was the dirty gray horse the summer camp kids learned to groom on. He was the sweetest and gentlest guy on the ground. He was happy with his new home, and the people were happy with him.
Sounds like both you and your mare are not that happy with the thought of eventing together. Think toward finding a solution that makes both of you happy with your riding time. Partial leases, leases on the farm, leases with time limits and trials, etc exist.
Like you, I love my animals, logical or not. Its a blessing and a curse. Keep Eyore at bay, there is a way to work it out. You just have to be brave, and have faith, and give some options a try. Its kinda like romantic relationships lol. You love one, get dumped, think the chances of love for you are gone forever, then somehow find another, and love that one just as much.
Hang in there, and take comfort in knowing you are not alone in this all too common horse experience.

TB or not TB?
Apr. 4, 2011, 10:07 PM
It's the hardest when you love a horse that much, but riding is miserable for you both - isn't this far worse than the actual issue or goals? I very much sympathize.

If it were me I wouldn't want to spend my horse time being miserable, or having such pain around something/one I love. I would put out an ad and some feelers and see who shows up for a lease or a buy. You don't have to sell or lease to anyone you don't want to. What ever happens will give you peace of mind: either someone tries her, loves her, and is perfect for her, or you will find after seeing a few people try her that it's more important to have her as YOUR horse than to event.

To say that "No one can love this horse like I do" is a little unfair to your mare - what if she found someone who loves to do what she loves to do, too?

ETA: FWIW, I wouldn't even bother sending her out to a trainer right now, because you're too emotionally invested I think to know what you want. I mean that in the kindest possible way. I've been in those shoes and it's heartbreaking to know that a part of you wants to just be done with your beloved horse. If you've reached the point where you're fighting internal battles with yourself, it's beyond a training issue.

deltawave
Apr. 4, 2011, 10:11 PM
To me, this is much less a "deep rooted part of her personality" and much more a training issue

Yes, please be careful not to get too anthropomorphic. She may never have the fire in her belly to do the upper levels, but refusing to leave the start area and shutting down before she even gets to the jumps is just plain rotten, disobedient behavior. The only excuse I could make for a horse doing that would be if it had had a terrible scare or fall or been badly schooled.

A BNR repeatedly longe-whipped a sensitive, spooky TB mare I used to have when she refused a water jump during a clinic. She never went around a XC course again. :no: She had never BEEN terribly brave and was stuck with a
rider (me!) who is even less so, but this was absolutely the worst type of thing to do with her. I didn't know any better and stood by and watched her get ruined. Still regret it! The point here is that your mare presumably has had no such experiences AND if you decide to send her to a trainer for
remedial work, choose carefully. :)

If you're committed to eventing and the mare, you deserve to find out if there is realistically any suitability there, or not. A pro can help you, but you have to let them know that you are looking for an honest assessment of the mare's suitability for YOU to event.

Finally, I do get it about loving them somewhat irrationally. :) My Bonnie (the daughter of the TB mentioned above) is athletically topped out at Novice/Training and although brave enough, is not STINKING brave, which I have concluded is the best type of horse for me. I bred her, foaled her, raised her, broke her, and adore her. She was supposed to be my Novice packerwhen I bred her, and so she is, but thanks to the stinking brave ones I've been privileged to ride, I want a little bit more than that now.

I've been very lucky to lease a stinking brave one, and that's the option I would suggest, like others have. Life is WAY too short to go XC on a horse that hates it, really really. It should be joyful for BOTH of you. :) Good luck!

CarCat
Apr. 4, 2011, 10:38 PM
You could always do some sort of part-lease with the understanding that she doesn't leave your barn.

I personally would send a horse I loved to a pro before I'd go and sell, but maybe leasing where you can keep your eye on her would be better for your situation.

VCT
Apr. 5, 2011, 01:08 AM
You need to decide what is more important to you.... eventing, or this horse. Or, do a lease thing like others have suggested. Then you can have the best of both worlds.

I have horse who is(mostly was) a challenging ride and had some mental issues to work through. I was told I'd do better with a different horse by more than one person. I know that is true. I've been asked if I have competition goals and are they important to me. I do want to compete, albeit only at BN, maybe N some far off day. But to me its important to get there WITH THIS HORSE. I don't care how long it takes, or really if we never get there (but I know we will :D ) .. I am enjoying the journey with him. I trust him. We've both helped each other overcome things. It's one of those deep bonds that you feel with a few horses, if you are lucky, in your lifetime. Every year we make great progress and I'm happy with that.

If you can't be happy with where you are at with your mare, then you need to change something. Send her for training, do a lease, move on to a different horse, whatever. Agonizing won't help... you need to make a change.

Good Luck!

MissCapitalSplash
Apr. 5, 2011, 09:12 AM
A horse with a questionable gas pedal is NOT fun and I would argue not too safe either. I want a horse to go forward in the direction that I ask it to every. single. time.
Interestingly enough, a friend's horse, also an orphan foal, who was bred for western pleasure, was doing this same bullshit as she started being asked to work and do things she didnt want to do. She just wouldn't move. And nothing would work. So what did friend do? No, she didn't decide not to show horse. She sent it to a pro. Who fixed it. It took 2 months, but horse now understands that forward is not an option when asked to do so.

I say, send her to a GOOD pro. I don't think it is an issue of not wanting to event, but rather an issue of personality/attitude/stubbornness common in the breed AND in orphan foals.

Also, I had a horse that wouldn't even go away from the barn on his own to go on a freaking trail ride. With work, he ended up eventing training level successfully.

Holly Jeanne
Apr. 5, 2011, 09:38 AM
I fulfilled the dream of a lifetime and bred and raised my own horse. My interest is dressage and she wants to jump. Breaks my heart but, as much as I love my first born, she would be happier with someone who wants to do what she enjoys (and is very good at). That became very clear last year when she was with a hunter/jumper trainer and was a happy 16.2 hand camper. So, hard as the decision was, she's up for sale. :(

xeroxchick
Apr. 5, 2011, 09:55 AM
I tried with a horse for nine years and when I sold him to a little girl, cried with joy at their first show. He was so loving and patient with her - and much happier than when he was with me. He was a 500$ classified ad horse who would run away with a rider and pull your arms out, jig unmercelessly, and it just never got better. I never really loved him, but tried.
My point? If you love this horse, could you let go enough to sell her to a loving home where she would be doted upon and cherished? Like to an older well to do dressage enthusiast? If you could imagine the horse much happier, could you sell her then? It's sort of like a divorce, painful to go through, but better for all parties in the end.
Think about it. Sometimes it is meant to be.

Halt At X
Apr. 5, 2011, 09:59 AM
I think the lease is the best idea for you and Daatje. She is a beautiful girl and I have no doubt you will find someone who would love to have her for a dressage mount. Why not advertise her, with the stipulation that x amount of time she will be on-farm lease so you can supervise the care/riding being done. Then if you are satisfied that the match is a good one, let her go out on a off farm lease with an iron clad contract to a place where you know you can keep an eye on her. The right person would understand shy you would want to do it this way.
Back when I exclusively rode dressage (pre-kids) I would have killed to ride a mare like her, so I am positive you could find someone who could appreciate her for what she is and be thrilled with that!

Then you can go pick your future eventer from CANTER :)

Napoles
Apr. 5, 2011, 10:21 AM
I had a horse like this for an owner. She was a Cleveland Bay who are also notoriously stubborn! :lol:
When she came she was very spoiled (not making this comparison BTW) and for whatever reason didn't have the "go" button either.
She was a beautiful looking horse but whenever you got on her and put your legs on she would stop. Use your legs more strongly and she would grind to a halt and start kicking out.
I knew her well enough to know straight away that she was just (very) confused and there was no point getting tough on her as you would just completely upset her.

It took a lot of time and patience (and a handy person standing in the arena holding a lunge whip - not using it just holding it), but she eventually found her go button and started to enjoy dressage.

I never jumped her even though I event myself, because she was not built for the job and would not have enjoyed it.
She got up to Medium level dressage and had good placings at our National championships.

Friesians are beautiful animals, but not my first thought for an eventer. Can you tell me more about 1st level dressage as I don't know what the equivalant is over here. I looked it up on Google, but from the piece I looked at, it seemed comparable to our Novice which is the 2nd lowest level?

If I have taken that up right and she is still only at that level of dressage after 10 years of training with a pro, then perhaps it IS time to consider leasing her out as a pasture companion?

She sounds like a lovely horse and I totally understand about heart horses (I have had many) but maybe competition is just not her thing?

FatDinah
Apr. 5, 2011, 10:47 AM
I think you should work with someone to school her to jump a stadium course, I agree that there is no excuse for that stop except refusing to obey your aids. Now cross country, if a horse hates cross country, I think you are fighting a losing battle.

There are so many nice horses out there needing homes and work, I bet you could find a free lease for yourself to try and bring along for an eventer.

Honestly, I would not sell her if you are that attached. Even if the first home is fine, what happens 5, 10, 15 years down the road?

She sounds like a dream foxhunter for us scaredy-cat riders, could you lease her through your hunt?
If she is a nice mare worthy of breeding, could you explore leasing/loaning her to someone for a broodmare where you could keep close tabs on her?

Halt At X
Apr. 5, 2011, 11:08 AM
If I have taken that up right and she is still only at that level of dressage after 10 years of training with a pro, then perhaps it IS time to consider leasing her out as a pasture companion?


Daatje is only 10 years old, she has not been in dressage training for ten years. Just thought I'd clear that up for OP.

FWIW- I met this pair once at a local dressage show. The OP and I went to the same college and I can attest for her knowledge. If she says it's not a training issue, I believe her 100%. Some horses are just not cut out to perform to the extent we wish them to. That is when we need to step back, re-evaluate and go from there.

Napoles
Apr. 5, 2011, 11:14 AM
Fast forward ten years later.....present day. Horse and I became decent at 1st level dressage, not great, but can get 70's on a good day. We were in training with a GP level rider for a few years, and I discovered that ascending 1st level with this horse would take a committment of time and money that I was not in a position to fulfill.

Sorry I took that up wrong, but even so IMO a 10 yr old friesian who has been with a competent producer since birth and who has also had regular training with a GP level trainer should have surpassed 1st level (from what I have googled as to the level).

There doesn't appear to be anything particularly difficult at that level, which is why I am suggesting that given the OP is a competent rider with lots of experience, the mare just might not be cut out for the competition life.

quietann
Apr. 5, 2011, 11:20 AM
...Friesians are beautiful animals, but not my first thought for an eventer. Can you tell me more about 1st level dressage as I don't know what the equivalant is over here. I looked it up on Google, but from the piece I looked at, it seemed comparable to our Novice which is the 2nd lowest level?

If I have taken that up right and she is still only at that level of dressage after 10 years of training with a pro, then perhaps it IS time to consider leasing her out as a pasture companion?
...

Jumping in... rereading the OP, the horse is 10 years old, not "in training for 10 years." First Level is about equivalent to Novice ... and scores in the 70s would normally indicate time to move up to Second Level, but D mentioned that would take more of a commitment of time/money to dressage training -- which is not what she really wants to do in the first place. Lots of American dressage riders and horses never make it higher than First Level, for various reasons related to time, money, talent etc. (I'm pretty much in that category myself, and First Level is still on the "to do" list... My horse has done it, but not me.)

I do wonder how this horse would do if leased to a low-level dressage rider. Friesians aren't to my taste, but they are beautiful and many people would love to have a chance to ride/train on one. Also, a new rider would not have the "baggage" that OP and her horse have together. I completely understand OP not wanting to just sell the horse. Finding someone who wants to do the same job as the horse wants to do could result in a happy ending for everyone.

(We have actually been at the same shows once or twice, though we've never introduced ourselves. The horse is beautiful, and yes a bit stubborn about jumps!)

OnCloud9
Apr. 5, 2011, 01:20 PM
Oh Daatje - I know where you are coming from.
I had a gelding from 2, started pretty much fresh. His basic training went well, and as a 4 yr old we entered in the eventing world. He was absolutley the cutest when all 4 were off the ground, a brave jumper. Totally willing on course.
Dressage is where we fell apart.
We worked and worked with a great local trainer and a couple of BNRs. The jumping/eventing riders loved him for his jump and his bravery, but my dressage coach said if I wanted to be competitive, I really needed a more willing horse. He called him a "make me" horse, and not a "show me" horse. True True True
We all know good jumping is dressage between the fences....so why didn't this translate to the drsg ring? His willingness went out the window when he wasn't hunting a jump.
I decided I was ok with staying at the lower level with him, even though we schooled some prelim training elements on course. He was so there. But our dressage would never ever cut it.
Then I got an opportunity to ride a Really. Nice. Horse. She was definitely a "show me" horse, and brave enough to boot. I leased my gelding to a girl that just wanted to do jumpers and lots of paces. They were a perfect match. At aged 9, I accepted her offer to buy him outright, after multiple requests. She really wanted him, and I knew it was going to be a good home. They are still together; he's 12 now.
I missed him, and it wasn't the easiest, but when I questioned every day what I should do, it was time to move on. Like you, I'm not into the catch rides, as I like to have a relationship with my horse.
Try leasing - it could turn into exactly what you both need.
Good luck....

Mukluk
Apr. 5, 2011, 03:22 PM
From what I've read so far, it sounds like your mare would be happiest doing dressage. If I were in your shoes, I might lease her (on a month by month basis at first) to someone that you have "vetted" thoroughly- and where you can keep an eye on how things are going. Then you could buy/borrow another horse that you could use for eventing. I am also in love with my mare and intend to keep her forever even if she doesn't work out as an eventing horse. She is a great trail horse so I would still enjoy that with her. My best decisions in life have been made by considering both "logical" and "emotional" factors. I wish you the very best of luck. I think you really know your horse and want what is best for her.

purplnurpl
Apr. 5, 2011, 06:21 PM
Yes, please be careful not to get too anthropomorphic. She may never have the fire in her belly to do the upper levels, but refusing to leave the start area and shutting down before she even gets to the jumps is just plain rotten, disobedient behavior. The only excuse I could make for a horse doing that would be if it had had a terrible scare or fall or been badly schooled.



this.
and in your post you also described her as sensible. She doesn't sound sensible at all to me.
Time for a smack bottom or a sale ticket. :yes:
(or a lease).
I've known a few 1/2 Frisians that event with no issue at all.

In my personal experience I have known some in your situation. It's turned out that the friend/s are in love with horses, but not really the horse that they have. They just think they are in love with one particular horse. It's kind of like how I always chase the boys that are mean to me. It's fun...for some reason.

to me, it sounds like a little bit of a bad relationship (lots of good, but just a little bit too much bad to really call the relationship healthy)--I do have a friend or two that thrive on bad equine relationships. it's a lot of drama to deal with but some need that chaos in their life...:confused:

I hope you can sort this out.
The brilliant thing about horses? We can sell them whenever we want and no one thinks anything of it.

WW_Queen
Apr. 5, 2011, 07:04 PM
Get another horse. I know it's not as easy as it sounds, but where there's a will there's a way. Sacrifice some perks (not care obviously) and put 2 on pasture board instead of 1 on stall board. There are tons of free leases available right now, both green as well as horses with show experience. You just need to ask around and post some ads. Find a part-boarder on your mare to offset some of the costs.

You could also stick your mare on pasture board, and then put the money into lessons on another horse.

Cruiser12
Apr. 5, 2011, 08:39 PM
Just looked at your Blog- you're clearly very very attached to this lovely mare.

fivehorses
Apr. 5, 2011, 10:14 PM
You are obviously attached to this mare, and in a dilemma.

Couple of things come to mind.
Catchride. If you are that good, I am sure someone has a horse out there that you can event.

lease or not, but you know to be very careful if you lease off premises.

I feel if you sell this mare, or lease her out of your sight, that you could have some serious fall out emotionally.

I have horses who have gotten injured and can not be ridden. It stinks, I'd love to have a good solid citizen to go out and trail ride, but I don't.

For me, the relationship with the animal is more important than the sport. However, not for everyone, I know.

You need to understand...is it the horse or the sport. If its both, then catchride.

purplnurpl
Apr. 6, 2011, 10:30 AM
Just looked at your Blog- you're clearly very very attached to this lovely mare.

or if she is really the love of your life--breed her. ;)

Janet
Apr. 6, 2011, 11:48 AM
Not sure where you're located, but happy to suggest a couple of pros who might be able to help, or at least explain to her that blowing you off when you ask her to move forward isn't an acceptable outcome.I explain this to her EVERY ride. This does not mean beating on her. I know that, but I'm afraid another rider might not. But it does mean educating her in a way that she can understand that forward means forward - which is the precursor to every other step of her education.She knows what I want when I'm asking, education is not the issue, her strong and stubborn will is. I know it kind of sucks to hear that - but sometimes it's much easier with someone who isn't emotionally attached to a horse.

I think she "knows you too well" (and vice versa). She knows what to expect from you.

With a DIFFERENT rider, she "doesn't know what to expect", so you start with a (closer to) blank slate.

Just like the kid who behaves much better for his teacher or coach than for his parents. He certainly LOVES his parents more, but he has figured out how to manipulate them to get his way. Not so with the teacher or coach.

The same principle applies to a horse that is strongly bonded to a rider, but is using that closeness to her advantage.

Try a different (competent but kind) rider and see if it makes a difference.

Daatje
Apr. 6, 2011, 12:59 PM
I think she "knows you too well" (and vice versa). She knows what to expect from you.

With a DIFFERENT rider, she "doesn't know what to expect", so you start with a (closer to) blank slate.

Just like the kid who behaves much better for his teacher or coach than for his parents. He certainly LOVES his parents more, but he has figured out how to manipulate them to get his way. Not so with the teacher or coach.

The same principle applies to a horse that is strongly bonded to a rider, but is using that closeness to her advantage.

Try a different (competent but kind) rider and see if it makes a difference.

Janet, they way you put that makes perfect sense. I'll see if I can put a different rider on her at some point. I did actually, last season. I let one of the young riders in my hunt take her out when her horse was sick. She did awesome for the girl, who was in her mid teens, I think, but very tiny!

Daatje
Apr. 6, 2011, 01:04 PM
or if she is really the love of your life--breed her. ;)

You know, that has crossed my mind. :) But, unless I could keep the resulting foal, I wouldn't do it.... Breeding scares the stuffing out of me...or rather foaling. We lost a foal to distocia many years ago. It was bad losing the foal, I don't know what I'd do if I lost Daatje!

But, in fantasy land, I dream of breeding her to Sempatico someday. ;)

Daatje
Apr. 6, 2011, 01:07 PM
Just looked at your Blog- you're clearly very very attached to this lovely mare.

More than words can express. I love her.

Daatje
Apr. 6, 2011, 01:21 PM
You are obviously attached to this mare, and in a dilemma.

Couple of things come to mind.
Catchride. If you are that good, I am sure someone has a horse out there that you can event. Well, I don't know if I'm *that* good, but I am game. :) Someone I know has offered for me to event a horse in her barn this year. It's definitely something I'm keeping in mind. I also have another horse, who is game, at hand to borrow, If I wanted to. If you check my blog and look at the farm sitting post, he's the big yellow horse in the pictures. :)

lease or not, but you know to be very careful if you lease off premises.

I feel if you sell this mare, or lease her out of your sight, that you could have some serious fall out emotionally. I think you're right here. I didn't mention this previously, but I sold her once, when she was just coming 2. I was getting married and was convinced we'd need the money, so I sold her. Big. Mistake. I could barely see the road through the tears as I drove to ME to drop her off. I was miserable without her! Long story short, the woman who bought her didn't click with her at all and was miserable *with* her, so I bought her back 9 months later. I'm so afraid that I'd regret letting her go even more than I did the first time.

I have horses who have gotten injured and can not be ridden. It stinks, I'd love to have a good solid citizen to go out and trail ride, but I don't.

For me, the relationship with the animal is more important than the sport. However, not for everyone, I know.

You need to understand...is it the horse or the sport. If its both, then catchride.

I truly believe that the relationship with the horse is more important than sport or competition, which is why I still have her. Our relationship (aside from the 5% of the time we're in conflict) is like nothing I've ever had with any of my previous horses.

I miss being able to compete and event with my friends but I really believe I won't be limited to one horse forever....when the day comes that I can have two, I think I'll really be glad I kept her in the family. (She'll be one heck of a "husband horse"!)

Backstage
Apr. 6, 2011, 01:48 PM
or if she is really the love of your life--breed her. ;)

That logic doesn't really jive for me. In some circumstances, it may make sense. But we have an OP with a horse she purchased as a foal and raised who is frustrated with the horse's limitations. Even if the mare learns she must hack out and must jump around a course away from home, it doesn't sound like she will really enjoy it. There are certainly no guarantee that her foal would either! That's not a solution to the problem at all!

Daatje
Apr. 6, 2011, 01:54 PM
That logic doesn't really jive for me. In some circumstances, it may make sense. But we have an OP with a horse she purchased as a foal and raised who is frustrated with the horse's limitations. Even if the mare learns she must hack out and must jump around a course away from home, it doesn't sound like she will really enjoy it. There are certainly no guarantee that her foal would either! That's not a solution to the problem at all!

Nah, but it's still fun to imagine what a Daatje/Sempatico baby would look like.

Honestly, I'd be more inclined to give a Camelot horse a chance before breeding, but it can be fun to imagine.

Speaking of Camelot....I can't believe they find homes for all of those horses *every* week. (knock on wood) Bless them, those folks who network for them.

Cruiser12
Apr. 6, 2011, 02:18 PM
I think she "knows you too well" (and vice versa). She knows what to expect from you.

With a DIFFERENT rider, she "doesn't know what to expect", so you start with a (closer to) blank slate.

Just like the kid who behaves much better for his teacher or coach than for his parents. He certainly LOVES his parents more, but he has figured out how to manipulate them to get his way. Not so with the teacher or coach.

The same principle applies to a horse that is strongly bonded to a rider, but is using that closeness to her advantage.

Try a different (competent but kind) rider and see if it makes a difference.

BRILLIANT BRILLIANT and SO VERY TRUE! (at least with children- it could be the same with horses)

asterix
Apr. 6, 2011, 07:57 PM
I read this thread with a lot of different reactions. I have a horse who is much adored, but came to me because he could not stand being a full time dressage horse; his owner spent several years struggling with this, and even though he was her dream horse (and, let's be clear, entirely capable of BEING a fancy dressage horse, at least for her ambitions...), he just didn't want to live that life.

She sold him to me, and cried and cried, and came and visited, and nearly passed out when I offered her a trail ride in the snow on him; she had been scared to ride him outside, and he was the perfect gentleman out in our giant field.

It took him a little while to learn the job but he is a GREAT eventer for me now; absolutely loves to jump, loves to hack out, lives out full time.

No question that was better for the horse. She never really found a path forward in riding, though; last I heard she had not bought another horse.

I have another horse who I am less sure wants to be an eventer; I toyed with selling him (I love him, but he's not quite the center of my heart the way the other one is) and even had a buyer out to look at him. That experience made me decide to keep working on our issues...I wasn't ready emotionally to give up on him.

but. I DO have the other horse still, and the young one has successfully evented through Training. I get my fix.

I would vote for leasing her out, under strict supervision at your farm if possible, for starters. She may be happier with a different job/different expectations, and you might be able to swing a new purchase or a lease for yourself that way.

See how you feel.

Good luck!

beckzert
Apr. 6, 2011, 08:29 PM
Daatje-

I truly feel for you! I have been in your position, and I managed to work my way out of it with my heart intact.

When I was 11, my parents gave me a rather terrified and free spirited Arabian who was both beautiful and crazy. I managed to get her going safely after a while, but I wanted to event and it was not uncommon for us to rack up 3 refusals on the first fence of cross country. Talk about disappointing for a 12 year old. So, I quit jumping and tried dressage. That didn't go much better for a while, and in fact i was almost persuaded to sell her, but I was so hopelessly in love with this horse from the first moment I saw her that I was not going to give up. And I knew she loved me just as much. So we changed trainers (a few times), buckled down and by the time I went off to college I had gotten my USDF Bronze medal on her and was showing 4th level quite successfully. Off to college I went.

While I was away, the person who was taking care of her(who I thought was knowledgeable and attentive) didn't keep a close enough eye on her weight, and especially considering the fact that she was 22, wasn't careful enough with the amount of food she was getting and she foundered. I was told to put her down, but I didn't think it was time. A year later she was sound enough to ride again, though not at 4th level. Everything went fine for 2 years, until she was diagnosed with heaves. By this time I was done with college and everyone was telling me donate her or give her away so I could get a young horse to start (I had been working student-ing through college and was now an assistant trainer). I refused, quit my job, and moved back across the country so I could put her back to work and get her healthy again. That's pretty much where we are now (except I have a job again:)

But last December a dressage judge in my area had a mare that he had been using for breeding that he desperately needed to get rid of, but she hadn't been ridden before and was 8. So he basically gave her to me and she's been under saddle about 3 months now. She's truly amazing and all the heartache of riding other people's horses over the years and wishing for my own that I could train and climb the levels on has totally evaporated. But it has taken years, with only a few where Satin was performing well. She's 27 now and takes up most of my time and money, but she's like my child. I truly think she would live with me if I had enough room, and I would love to have her as a roommate. I work at the barn and take on some training jobs in addition to working full time to pay for them both and I'm at the barn 6 days per week working them, but it's the best of both worlds.

I hope that an opportunity comes along for you like it did for me. I can totally relate to what you are going through, and my best advice is to follow your heart and don't get persuaded by people who try to push you too hard in one direction or the other. Things have a way of working themselves out for the best, and you will know when the right opportunity comes along. Sorry that this was such a long post!

beckzert
Apr. 6, 2011, 08:58 PM
I know that we've probably all heard enough from me after that huge post, but I just wanted to add that I really wish I could have had a baby out of my mare before got too old. It would be like having a grandchild. I actually looked into having a surrogate, but I'm stretched too thin financially as it it...I've resigned myself to coat my walls with photos of her (mission accomplished). Since yours is a suitable breeding age, and if its possible, maybe it would be worth breeding her?

mvp
Apr. 6, 2011, 10:53 PM
This mare, through no fault of her own, has put you in a very, very hard position. Let me say up front that I have sympathy for both of you.

This post is a longy. You won't like all of it. Sorry. But since you know her and you know a lot about training horses, maybe it will help you to follow it to the end.

The hard-a$$ part, first. (Don't worry, I'll get constructive again).

No, don't breed the POS. I don't care what ancestry, life history, training or whatever went into this. You categorically don't breed an individual with a hole this big. But you know that. On the other hand, maybe the hole isn't so big.

Yes, she is a POS. POS here is a technical term, not one of judgment or anger or complete condemnation On the contrary! It reflects a horse who has a selective work ethic or courage. The POS character isn't all that bad. I'll bet your mare is smart and self-preserving. I'll bet she doesn't have a mark on her body that reflects her *ever* picking a fight with another horse she couldn't win. I'll bet she surprised you with how catty-athletic, brave and careful she could be in turns in the hunt field as the situation warranted. That's good. It means she is deeply invested in making her life easy, and that's an animal you can negotiate with. The horse you (or anyone) should not ride is the one who is willing to hurt himself in order to make a point. Many great horses-- racers, big jumpers, eventers-- teeter on this edge. They're willing to take enormous risk.

One more bit of lecture before the solution. She doesn't know what you have sacrificed for her. She doesn't know she "owes" you anything. She doesn't know that she's creating a dangerous situation for you or some other rider who, one day, asks her for just little too much. But I think it's an all-around bad idea to sit on a 1,000 lb animal when its at her pleasure and on her terms. (See the very end.)

On the "fix" (at last!)

For you, the best option is to lease her to someone who *wants exactly what she is*. That will keep everyone happy and safe.

I do think that making a fearful horse brave, and one who hates the particular mental work of dressage are both very tough. It's so hard to do (and so easy to do wrong) that it borders on the unethical to try. When you screw up with either of these, you have a very, very damaged horse in the end.

But neither of these is actually your mare's deal! She may be a little chicken. But she's not profoundly chicken because she's willing to face off with you. She's also not stupid. "Stubborn" has no meaning to me. It's a term that refers to the horse hasn't yet been shown why-- and usually how-- to change.

Otherwise, the trick is to find a pro who can get inside her head. You have to find a pro who wants to. Many will say "What a POS!" (in the bad, too simple way) and walk. That's not the right pro.

The good pro for you is one who says "Hmm. What does this mare like even less than sulling up?" This isn't someone who gets angry-- this pro likes the mental puzzle. This is a pro who thinks a every cotton pickin' horse is obligated to at least try. But he or she realizes that you must negotiate with the horse who has discovered that there are some circumstances in which the "Yes sir, how high sir?" is not actually required. That's not the horse's fault. She just doesn't know.

You don't necessarily need to beat this horse. You don't need to jump since, fortunately for you, she'll say No in other, easier situations. You might not even need to have the most important "conversation" or "negotiation" with her under saddle.

You take steps backward in her training until you find a situation-- any situation-- in which the mare says "Uh, uh." Then you offer her a simple and plain choice. She can say "Yes" and make her life instantly better. Or she can say "No" for as long as she likes with life getting harder and harder. The key-- what the good mental puzzler does-- is put the horse in the situation where they are pressured to think but not so pressured they can't think. No horse will hurt herself if she can imagine a way not to.

She might get mad. Good! It means the little wheels in her head are turning. For the pro's behavior, it means "Meh, whatever. That's her problem. No one else is mad." The puzzler leave the pressure on and wait until she (the smart, self-preserving POS) says "OK, this anger stuff and doing more of the same is getting expensive for me. What else can I do instead?" The instant she tries something else-- anything that's 10% better than what she offered before-- life gets suddenly, miraculously easy. Then she gets to stop and think about what just happened. Then she gets offered the same deal again. She's entirely in control of the outcome.

If the pro is a world-class horse puzzler and negotiator, this doesn't take long. No one gets hurt. The person is never, ever in danger of getting hurt. That's because the puzzler can read the ever lovin' snot out of the horse. You'll recognize this puzzler because he can tell narrate both sides of the conversation. While you might not do what he does, but you'll agree both with the logic and the interpretation of the horse you know well. At some point, you'll probably think he has scared her. Watch what he does next and what she does. If she gets at all softer, slower or more compliant, you'll know that you-- not the puzzler-- read her wrong. She was afraid perhaps, but not too afraid to keep thinking.

Personally, I'd want to watch if I found a pro good enough to do this with a horse who had stumped me. Usually, the pro can set up a very clear progression and ritual that the horse recognizes. When another rider begins it, the smartie says to herself "Oh, man, I know where this will end. I have the power to prevent that. Let me change that up right now."

Should you bother with all that? Yes and no.

If you love the mare and will keep her, and/or want to learn a hell of a lot, find the puzzler. If you don't want to start with your mare, call him up, tell him what you have and then go watch him with another horse. You'll know if this guy can read them.

If you understand what the pro does and can be taught to recreate that ride, then see that effort and risk as worth it because you have what you need to train this mare yourself ever afterward. What you'll have will never be as hard as those first few training sessions the pro has. He will have "installed" a button you need. You just need to dust it off once in a while.

If you just want to get around a course with less risk and more fun, by all means get a horse with a different hole in it! No shame there. Life is short, expensive and risky enough without a horse who stops. But she doesn't sound "dirty" to me. Will you eventually have to contend with a dishonest, no warning stopper? The good pro won't return that horse to you. It will come if you don't keep her reminded of the fact that a request from you must be answered or at least acknowledged. She will be safe if she lets you know that she has gone back to "sometimes I listen to leg and sometimes I don't." Then you know she needs a refresher course. She won't be safe if you don't get mad at her the first time she "lies" to you about that. If she's smart enough to think to lie, she's smart enough to think while you tell her "absolutely not!"

If you don't want to have this kind of high pressure relationship with your mare once or more than once, don't do this at all.

Horse training on the internet. Make of it what you will.

VicariousRider
Apr. 6, 2011, 10:56 PM
I really feel your pain. I have a love-of-my-life mare and, despite the fact that she is not my "perfect" horse, she is my forever horse. She's my pet. I love her too much.

I got my mare when she was coming 4. I am her 2nd owner (after her breeder). She is now 17. We were quite successful on the AA H/J circuit in the late '90's (what she was bred for), I leased her out while I was in boarding school (with some disasters involved but we all came through unscathed in the end), took her to college and worked my a** of to pay for her while we foxhunted and started eventing.

After college I put her on the market and sobbed every time she was tried. She is not perfect. She's a chestnut mare. She is really not safe to event above novice and she's dangerous in the hunt field (the mare has almost NO self-preservation in a herd... one herniated disk later for me). Of course I wanted more, but I decided more than wanting more, I wanted Lulu. (I'm getting misty... )

We focused on learning dressage. She enjoyed the challenge and my skill set has broadened. Now (while I am in law school and financially incapable of riding) she is in a pasture on my parents' farm. It's not ideal but at 17 a little early retirement is not a travesty. My plan is to have her back in my life after law school (when I have income) and to trail ride and do dressage on weekends and as time allows as I develop my legal career. When she's really ready to retire hopefully I'll have the time and funds to buy myself a packer and give Ms. Lu the care that she deserves in her old age.

In short: This IS my forever horse and I'm willing to compromise my own riding goals to have the partnership that we have developed in almost 14 years. I ride horses because I cherish that bond. She is one of my dearest friends. (OK... waterworks are going...)

Daatje
Apr. 7, 2011, 09:44 AM
MVP, I think I love you. :D

I love what you wrote, you're very good! I know such a "puzzler" who has helped me communicate more with this mare than I ever thought possible. I should really take a look at investing more time with him. It's hard, coming from a winter off. (no indoor, only trails) We're both rusty right now. I think we need some sessions with my favorite clinician.....I wonder if he'd take her for a month or two....

Daatje
Apr. 7, 2011, 09:54 AM
To everyone who has taken the time to write these lengthy and thoughtful responses, thank-you! I've read them all, though not been able to reply directly to all, with much interest. It's nice to hear others stories of committment and affection, and personal sacrifice for the horses they love. I really appreciate it!

To those who offered training advice, also, thank-you. It's easy to lose sight of things when you are so close to a situation. I am going to take a step back and look at where we've been, where we are, and where we're going, and perhaps invest in some more assistance from someone who is as MVP described. Someone who can get into her head....someone who isn't so close to her and who won't risk taking her confrontations personally.

She may never be something I'll take XC in an event, but shrinking the hole in her "yes ma'am, I'll go forward for you every time you ask, the first time you ask" button will make her more enjoyable to ride on a daily basis, and to me, that is very much worth the effort.

deltawave
Apr. 7, 2011, 10:04 AM
I refused, quit my job, and moved back across the country so I could put her back to work and get her healthy again

Have to say that I find it a little disturbing when people compromise their finances, their job, their safety, or their future because they looooove a horse so much. It's weird to me, sorry. Kid? Yes. Horse? No. And I'm sorry also to say that no, there IS no comparison and it is NOT the same, at all. However, it's a free country.

What I got from mvp's bracing post was not that the OP needs to work yet again HARDER to deepen a relationship with the horse, but rather that SOMEONE ELSE needs to. The OP's relationship with the horse already seems to border on crossing the human/equine line.

Or maybe I need some caffeine this morning. :)

Bogie
Apr. 7, 2011, 11:06 AM
Otherwise, the trick is to find a pro who can get inside her head. You have to find a pro who wants to. Many will say "What a POS!" (in the bad, too simple way) and walk. That's not the right pro.

The good pro for you is one who says "Hmm. What does this mare like even less than sulling up?" This isn't someone who gets angry-- this pro likes the mental puzzle. This is a pro who thinks a every cotton pickin' horse is obligated to at least try. But he or she realizes that you must negotiate with the horse who has discovered that there are some circumstances in which the "Yes sir, how high sir?" is not actually required. That's not the horse's fault. She just doesn't know.

You don't necessarily need to beat this horse. You don't need to jump since, fortunately for you, she'll say No in other, easier situations. You might not even need to have the most important "conversation" or "negotiation" with her under saddle.

You take steps backward in her training until you find a situation-- any situation-- in which the mare says "Uh, uh." Then you offer her a simple and plain choice. She can say "Yes" and make her life instantly better. Or she can say "No" for as long as she likes with life getting harder and harder. The key-- what the good mental puzzler does-- is put the horse in the situation where they are pressured to think but not so pressured they can't think. No horse will hurt herself if she can imagine a way not to.

She might get mad. Good! It means the little wheels in her head are turning. For the pro's behavior, it means "Meh, whatever. That's her problem. No one else is mad." The puzzler leave the pressure on and wait until she (the smart, self-preserving POS) says "OK, this anger stuff and doing more of the same is getting expensive for me. What else can I do instead?" The instant she tries something else-- anything that's 10% better than what she offered before-- life gets suddenly, miraculously easy. Then she gets to stop and think about what just happened. Then she gets offered the same deal again. She's entirely in control of the outcome.


This is very similar to the approach that I used with my Trak who had developed a habit of rearing when he felt trapped or put in a situation where he was asked to do something he thought he didn't need to do. I found a pro who set up the "choice" before the rear and taught the horse he had another choice than to engage in a full scale battle.

It took very little time and it saved my relationship with that horse. Yes, there were still situations where I could feel that he wanted to get "light" in front but I had a way of handling it before it got confrontational. He and I had established a pattern of behavior that didn't end well. He needed another brain to look at the problem and come up with a different response. In the case of this horse I had to be careful not to react. Once he had nothing to react against, he would calm down.

That horse went on to be a superb foxhunter and a very willing partner. He never reared again. Before finding this pro I had other trainers who told me to give up on him.

equinedriver
Apr. 7, 2011, 11:46 AM
I"m late to this thread, but my first thought was "lease her". I had a similar situation with a horse and happened upon a situation where someone that could really *use* the horse and enjoy it wanted to borrow it. I knew they had an impeccable property and I knew that their horses had absolutely the best of care. They were 10 miles from my home so I said great.

I did not go visit for at least 2 weeks. Talked with them once or twice to confirm that things were going well, and when I did go over the horse was out in his grass paddock happy as a clam.

After 6 weeks I was stunned to realize that my life would go on without any stress, and the horse was happily in work and the woman was having the time of her life. This is a horse that I had steadfastly said I would never sell.

The horse is happy, I am happy and the woman is happy. A win for everyone.

Lease the horse to someone that you have no reservations about in terms of the care of the horse. I realize that this will mean giving up control, LOL, but you will be able to deal with it if you have no qualms about the quality of care the persons other horses have received.

The hardest lesson I had to learn was the key is to find a horse that SHARES your passion. Horses have them too, and they deserve to be having as much fun as we are. Give up on trying to change her mind about what her passion is. It obviously is NOT eventing. You owe it to her to let her enjoy her life and as hard as it is for you to accept, she CAN enjoy life with another person. After leasing her, you may find a situation in which you are comfortable taking the next step and sell her.

mvp
Apr. 7, 2011, 11:46 AM
What I got from mvp's bracing post was not that the OP needs to work yet again HARDER to deepen a relationship with the horse, but rather that SOMEONE ELSE needs to. The OP's relationship with the horse already seems to border on crossing the human/equine line.


Glad y'all liked The Puzzler.

These trainers are worth their weight in gold-- especially if they are articulate. The good ones really are. They can narrate the conversation between man and beast play-by-play like a sportscaster.

They also do anthropomorphize the horse. In fact, they walk in assuming that the horse is shrewd, self-interested business exec whose sole purpose is to manipulate the trainer. That's awesome! The horse who thinks she can read the rider well enough to get *him* to make her life easy is the one who shows up for school, pencil sharpened and ready in invest herself in how each training session goes.

The Puzzler is a great interpreter who is a master of the art of escalation and de-escalation. He has just two other characteristics.

One is knowing what a horse wants. In general, that's just to get through the day in one piece. In any given moment, it's just three things: no pain, no fear, and enough oxygen. That's pretty much it. So he finds the particular thing the horse wants most at any given moment and give her a chance to let her make him give it to her.

The Puzzler is also a master at setting up a simple, slow situation that the most unscocialized or unthinking horse can figure out.

It turns out that horses really like Puzzlers. This may start out as a bit of Stockholm Syndrome-- where the victim gets really, really into her captor. That's just self-preservation. It's also intimacy. That's part of what I think deltawave means. Later, it becomes a huge source of self-esteem and security for a horse. They have one person they can communicate with and help them get what they need with just a look. This kind of horse *likes* interacting with people and the training process.

You'd benefit from some outside help from a Puzzler right now because you have a gap in the otherwise very intimate relationship you have with your mare. Actually, it sucks almost as badly for her as it sucks for you.

As it stands now, when you guys are outside and your mare is worried, she may think of you as someone across the counter at McDonalds. You're nice enough, but you're wallpaper in her world of getting what she wants, and saving her own bacon understandably comes first. She doesn't know you as someone who can offer her help. So there, or in one of these "back to basics" situations, you must make pleasing you her number one priority. She will have saved her own bacon there by paying close attention to you. From that you can honestly say to her "Look, if you please me on an XC course, you'll survive." She'll do that a few times and not require so much from you. But she'll also come to *like it* to an extent.

I'd guess that she reason she doesn't seem brave outside now is because it looks like this to her: "The Outside World is no place for children, slackers or sissies. WallpaperRider keeps pretending that it's no big deal. As if! When Wallpaper starts taking my needs for safety-- no, Our needs-- for safety seriously, then we'll talk." You can reassure her all day. But if you haven't made her change her behavior such that *she* appreciates that she has made herself safe and powerful in the world, then you haven't actually answered her question.

That all sounds pretty deep and definitely anthropomorphic. But it does work and you never need to think badly of a horse doing it. Notice that none of what I have said assumes anything but that horses are smart, rational and have legitimate concerns.

msj2192
Apr. 7, 2011, 12:23 PM
So glad I'm not the only one going through this. I've had my horse for a little over 2 years, but have been in full training with two different trainers since. One for dressage and one for eventing, both are some of the best in my area. I've been through hell and back with my horse, which makes my decision so hard. Even worse is that he schools perfectly, it's only shows that he shuts down. I've had my trainer take him out and he did the same thing with her, so it's not just me. She went advanced so I'm thinking she knows what she is talking about. So here I am, contemplating the hunter/jumper career. Never thought I would have to do that again, kinda makes me sick to my stomach. Good luck with your situation! I've decided taking it day by day and realizing that just having a horse is an amazing gift gets me through it. He means more to me than just a competition horse, so I think that's where it has ended. I don't label him in disciplines anymore, there's no use.

VicariousRider
Apr. 7, 2011, 01:16 PM
Have to say that I find it a little disturbing when people compromise their finances, their job, their safety, or their future because they looooove a horse so much.

Just to clarify: I have not compromised any of the above to keep my mare (except maybe safety in foxhunting her but that was a risk that was only able to be evaluated in hindsight). I agree that there are limits to what we should endure but those limits are very personal.

My mare is a pet and not all horses in my life have been so but this one is. In the same way that I would not drop my dog off at a shelter because the apartment that I want doesn't take dogs, I am committed to finding ways to keep her in my life and would rather have the dog than the cool apartment (to keep with the same metaphor).

The big difference between me and the OP is that I LOVE riding my mare and, on the whole, she is able and willing to try the things that I want to do. There have been times along the way that I wished she was capable of more, but "more" just isn't more important to me than the horse. I'm ok with staying within her limitations (such as jump heights and NO MORE FOXHUNTING!) in order to preserve the wonderful partnership that I have with her. I have found that I LOVE dressage (I used to think that the day I said this would be the day that I checked into the nut house!!) and she's not easy on the flat but she's game and has FORCED me to learn to ride REALLY accurately... not a bad thing, IMHO.

millerra
Apr. 7, 2011, 04:45 PM
I just wanted to say that I find mvp's idea of a puzzler a very interesting way to think about training! I have to mull that over some more.

To the OP - if I were you (and I'm not), I'd be seriously looking at leasing her to someone who wants a nice dressage horse w/ some jumping. She does sound nice for that and someone else may really love her.

and I have found through the years, that life and time are really to short to have a horse that doesn't love heading out of the start box. If that's what you love, then find a horse who does too.

[anthropomorphic, yes but it's so much fun to ride a horse w/ head up, ears on and going Oh Yeah, struttin' his stuff, heading to the box -even if its only Bnovice]