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(End of our dressage road post 176) I am an idiot.

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  • (End of our dressage road post 176) I am an idiot.

    Mistake #1: Buying a horse while still VERY high on percocet after breaking my foot.

    Mistake #2: Underestimating how much I forgot in my time away from horses.

    Mistake #3: Underestimating just how green the new horse is.

    I'm thinking #1 had a lot to do with #2 and #3.

    The horse: Horse is a 3 year old Gypsy Vanner (I know, corner of shame for me) and Clydesdale cross that has been a pasture puff her whole life. She has basic halter training, but that's about it. However, she has a great mind. She is the quietest horse I've ever handled, and even when she did spook in the cross ties, resulting in a 180 spin with the ties crossed over her head, a quiet "whoa" was all it took to get her to stop and wait for me to unclip the cross ties for her. After she was released, she quietly walked right back into the cross ties and waited for me to clip them back on. 95% of the time when she spooks, it's a stop and stare before quietly walking on type spook. Her level-headedness when a 6 year old took a flying leap and wrapped his arms and legs around her front leg is when I decided to buy her. She didn't even flinch.

    I will post confo shots tomorrow. I've been dreading it, because I'm pretty sure her confo is going to torn to pieces. But, in all honesty, I need to hear it.

    The goal: Low level dressage. I am perfectly content if she never advances beyond 2nd level (but I will NOT push her past where her conformational limits are, if she's done at training so be it). Once we've gone as far as she can comfortably and happily go, I'm hoping that she can be a husband horse, or a horse for the kids to lesson on. If not, I'll still have a gentle and quiet trail horse.

    What I'd planned: First goal for me is to firm up the halter/ground manners. When we have her solid in the halter work, I'll move onto lunging. I'd love to spend the next 12-18 months really working on building up from lunging, to double lunging, to long lining, and maybe short reins. While working up to where she's ready to lunge, I'm going to start looking for a trainer who really takes the time to get the ground work right. I know that this is over my head and I can't give her what she needs. Groundwork is a skill I'd love to develop, and I think I could borrow an older horse to learn on. (If anyone has any recs in UT for a trainer who is great with groundwork, I will love you forever.) I know she's not purpose-bred, so some of this is going to be hard for her, and I really want her to be able to learn the basics of using herself before she's backed. I want her to have the chance to develop proper muscling before she has to carry me around. I also want the chance to watch from the ground so I can see how she's handling the different tasks requested of her. I plan for ground work to be a regular part of her training, regardless of level.

    While she's learning: I plan on getting back in the saddle as soon as my surgeon clears me, and I'm begging to spend as much time on the lunge line with no stirrups as possible. I got a great recommendation for a trainer, so as soon as I'm cleared I'll be working my tail off there. I'm devouring every book I can get my hands on (I am also hungry for recommendations on books), and my new trainer has me studying Wanless until I can get back in the saddle.

    Why I want to learn dressage: I want to learn how to best use the aids I have available, and how to develop a horse to it's full athletic potential. If I'm forever stuck at second level, so be it. I just want to be the best second level rider I can be. I don't know what disciple I want to really devote myself to yet. I know that, odds are, I'll never come down the center line for a grand prix test, ride a 4' hunter derby, or compete at advanced in eventing. If I ever get that chance, I'll be the idiot pinching myself at the in gate with a goofy grin on my face. But I can sure as hell ride to the best of my ability at whatever level I get to, and I won't accept less from myself.

    How big of a mistake did I really make? What am I missing that I should be thinking through? Is dressage even worth pursuing? A run-in with a local DQ has me really questioning whether I should bother doing anything but trail rides with her. The "what do you mean she's not broke yet" and "why on earth would you spend so much time on groundwork" have me really questioning whether what I planned on is even the right thing for her. I really love working with this mare, and plan on keeping her even if all we ever do is trail ride. I know that I'm not anywhere near skilled enough to train her on my own, but I'm also really looking forward to watching a trainer work with her and watching her grow.

    Oh, and random/irrelevant side note, I do NOT plan on letting the hair get out of control. Super long manes drive me insane.
    Last edited by MyssMyst; Nov. 20, 2012, 11:03 PM.
    Proud member of the Snort and Blow Clique

  • #2
    You've got a horse, the horse has done nothing bad, and your goal is reasonable - to ride her with some help from a professional trainer getting her started.

    No worries!

    A book you might enjoy with some ideas for groundwork as well as the general task of putting basics on a baby is Schooling for Young Riders by John Richard Young. It is out of print. It is also wonderful.
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

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    • #3
      Your horse.your money............ your time.....If you want to take a year for ground work etc. go for it.You will probably end up with a very well mannered horse that will be what you want,and if you don't so what.You will have spent a year doing what is good for both of you.After all it is your horse.your money..and your time.
      mm

      Comment


      • #4
        Man plans, God laughs. Second-guessing at this stage only causes you pain. I bet it will all work out.

        BTW I kind of did something similar but not horse related. Years ago I was looking for some rural land to build a house. Land was moving so fast at that time that literally by the time I saw the property and called my agent the property would have been sold. In the middle of winter, a couple of feet of snow on the ground, she sent me into the wilds of rural PA to see a 2 acre wooded lot. I went in and saw it was deciduous forest (so the trees would drop their leaves) and had a south facing gentle slope. I bought it under a blanket of snow. When the weather changed I went back to see what I'd bought!

        It worked out too.

        You have goals, you have a plan, you're doing better than most. I want pictures!

        Paula
        He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post
          You have goals, you have a plan, you're doing better than most.
          Truer words were never written. I want pictures, too.
          Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.

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          • #6
            I don't think you're an idiot.

            My thoughts are as follows:

            1. Since it is September now and she is 3, I am guessing she is pretty late in her 3yo year. She is probably physically ready to get started to saddle and start on a program of going for walks through the hills with 15 minutes of WTC arena schooling here and there. Fall is a very nice time to ride a young horse through the hills, and if you are consistent and make slow but steady progress you can catch the leaves before they turn.

            2. I don't think it will be NECESSARY to do ground work for as long as you are contemplating, but if you WANT TO because you are interested in learning the skill then now is as good a time as any.

            3. If you have a pro come out and work with her and you 2 or 3 times a week for the next 6 months I don't think you will recognize yourselves. You'll be able to come back to COTH and tell everyone a giant "SO HA!"
            The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
            Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
            Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
            The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

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            • #7
              Its not stupidity...its a gamble with a dash of faith. Something spoke to you and you trusted it. Nothing wrong with that. I hope she surprises you with brilliance.
              You see a mouse-trap. I see free cheeze and a challenge

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by MyssMyst View Post
                A run-in with a local DQ has me really questioning whether I should bother doing anything but trail rides with her.
                This is the only mistake I see in your post . DQ is probably just jealous that you bought a horse you will be able to enjoy, rather than something fabulous that only your trainer can ride.

                Seriously, green probably wasn't the best choice, but you will have more fun with this type of horse. After this horse teaches you (or reminds you) how to be a proper horsewoman, helps you get your seat established, tolerates all of your mistakes, and brings tears to your eyes with pride in all of your mutual small accomplishments, then you can go out and get something fancy that the DQ will approve of. If the DQ's opinion is that important to you .... (just sayin').
                "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                Spay and neuter. Please.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yo, woman. Chill. Trust yourself. Trust the horse.

                  Ignore DQ.

                  Have fun!
                  What's Horsie in the Twin Tiers? Find out here:
                  http://thetwintiershorse.blogspot.com/

                  Former user name: GilbertsCreeksideAcres

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TheTwinTiersHorse View Post
                    Yo, woman. Chill. Trust yourself. Trust the horse.

                    Ignore DQ.

                    Have fun!
                    This.

                    You're learning things while working with her that will make you a better horseperson even if she becomes a trail horse and you decide to go upper level dressage with a different horse you want to start from scratch. I think you said she's 6? I have a friend who has just started two older and mostly unhandled mares - and by doing ground work first, she found them both EASY to start. It's all about getting the correct basics to make it easy, and if you're willing to spend the time it should work out well!

                    I would guess you won't need a full year of ground work, but setting that as your initial timeframe will keep you from rushing.

                    As for conformation - even if she looks like a yak crossed with a brahma bull she should be capable of performing second level, even if not really well. Your attitude of wanting to watch out for her best interests makes it clear it should work out well whatever level you get to.


                    Good luck - and heal quickly!
                    Originally posted by Silverbridge
                    If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

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                    • #11
                      Please forgive my ignorance, but can Gypsy Vanner canter?

                      The reason I ask this is, I went to a show a few months ago that had Gypsy Vanner classes, and all the Gypsy Vanner classes were either walk or walk/trot on the rail. There was not a single class that had a canter.

                      I have had that question in my head since... They are really really pretty though.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Enjoy your new horse and let the journey take you where ever it will. We owned a Gypsy Vanner that was a fun cob. He was driven by my husband and my daughter showed him in training level dressage. His only fault was his laziness. Enjoy.
                        Friesians Rule !!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Gloria View Post
                          Please forgive my ignorance, but can Gypsy Vanner canter?
                          Yep! I just did a little quick google search and found this, too: http://www.blarneystoneacres.com/ Cute horse.

                          I think you're approaching this all from a very thoughtful and realistic perspective. I'm glad you're planning to get help from a trainer and are looking at this from the perspective of being fair to the horse, as well. With this kind of thinking and willingness to put in the time and work to develop yourself and your horse, I think you're all going to have fun.

                          Congrats on your new horse - can't wait to see pics!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think you're showing what a thoughtful horsewoman you are by thinking all this through.

                            When I bought my unbroke 3 year old, I planned on a year plus of groundwork before getting on. I was on within 4 months. The horse made it clear he was ready for the next step, but the focus on groundwork/lunging etc is a good one. We handwalked all around the farm, learned that was can't rear when we want to eat grass, learned that if we are feeling fresh a squeal is okay, but nipping the butt of my whip and my knuckles is not! We learned how to steer, give to pressure, handle ropes flopping all over while being ground driven, lunged, etc.

                            All these lessons have made him a much more respectful partner and made the riding part a huge nonevent.
                            2007 Welsh Cob C X TB GG Eragon
                            Our training journal.
                            1989-2008 French TB Shamus Fancy
                            I owned him for fifteen years, but he was his own horse.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Gloria View Post
                              Please forgive my ignorance, but can Gypsy Vanner canter?

                              The reason I ask this is, I went to a show a few months ago that had Gypsy Vanner classes, and all the Gypsy Vanner classes were either walk or walk/trot on the rail. There was not a single class that had a canter.

                              I have had that question in my head since... They are really really pretty though.
                              the ones in Ireland do just fine - course they don't call them G V's there, so perhaps with the transistion to the New World it's a trait that has been lost ...

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Congratulations. I'm sure everything will work out fine.

                                Get yourself in dressage lessons on a schoolie as soon as you are cleared. I'd also find a trainer to come over every week or two and work with you and your horse on groundwork. They should be able to give you good 'homework' to do between sessions. If she's super quiet, you may find yourself moving along pretty quickly with desensitizing, leading, tying, etc.- and spending more time on 'respect my space' and 'forward means now.' If the horse is 3.5 now, I'd be thinking about getting him a stall at the trainers around May to be broke. If you start groundwork now, you should be well ahead of the game in terms of preparadness for backing in the spring.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Thank you! I needed to hear that. The "you want to do dressage with THAT? Don't you understand how hard dressage is" attitude really got under my skin, and I figured COTH would give me a needed dose of reality, whether or not it was an a$$-chewing. It was all I could do to politely reply to her that my purpose in dressage wasn't ribbons, it was to learn how to improve myself as a rider and get the best from the horse I was riding.

                                  I'll admit I felt marginally better watching her lunge without adjusting her side reins once, then ride with a chair seat and swinging legs.

                                  I discovered this week that there are (so far) two things that will spook pony into the next county. One is a bath. So please forgive the green spots when I post pics, lol. We'll take some at the barn tonight and get them up. Two is spray bottles (which is rapidly improving).

                                  ETA: She can canter. Trot is still her preferred gait, but canter is definitely there. She is definitely much stiffer going around to the right, so we'll be working on suppleness carefully.
                                  Proud member of the Snort and Blow Clique

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                                    I don't think you're an idiot.

                                    My thoughts are as follows:

                                    1. Since it is September now and she is 3, I am guessing she is pretty late in her 3yo year. She is probably physically ready to get started to saddle and start on a program of going for walks through the hills with 15 minutes of WTC arena schooling here and there. Fall is a very nice time to ride a young horse through the hills, and if you are consistent and make slow but steady progress you can catch the leaves before they turn.

                                    2. I don't think it will be NECESSARY to do ground work for as long as you are contemplating, but if you WANT TO because you are interested in learning the skill then now is as good a time as any.

                                    3. If you have a pro come out and work with her and you 2 or 3 times a week for the next 6 months I don't think you will recognize yourselves. You'll be able to come back to COTH and tell everyone a giant "SO HA!"
                                    Perfect!

                                    I think you will be fine. Personally I would start the baby under saddle (or I should say have someone good do it) - at least 10 days as a 3 year old and then the break. There is no reason this fellow could not be a lot of fun and do well at low level as you have stated. Have fun and just get the right people to support and help you.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by MyssMyst View Post
                                      I know she's not purpose-bred, so some of this is going to be hard for her, and I really want her to be able to learn the basics of using herself before she's backed. I want her to have the chance to develop proper muscling before she has to carry me around.
                                      I really commend you for this. THIS is the kind of horsemanship that is so often lacking these days IMO. Sounds to me like you're certainly not an idiot at all - your plans are sound and sensible and I bet you'll have a ton of fun! Yes, you should get some confo opinions (maybe your vet or trainer could help with that), but I like how open you are to changing your goals as her physique dictates. Oh, and as for the Gypsy Vanner thing, there are many fine examples of Colored Cobs excelling at lower level dressage/eventing in the UK - just call her a Clyde/Cob X. You never know, she may surprise you and go well beyond what you think she's capable of.
                                      Proud COTH lurker since 2001.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I know a dressage trainer whose wife had gypsy Vanners. They are beautiful and have great temperaments. He has taken them to gypsey banner shows and done really well with them in dressage. You can't train temperament. Find a trainer who understands your goals and you enjoy working with. Not everyone can afford or wants a big warmblood or to go up the levels. Trust your gut it's your journey enjoy it!
                                        Gallop on

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