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My lack of confidence or my horse's? To sell or not to sell? *long*

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  • My lack of confidence or my horse's? To sell or not to sell? *long*

    I am writing this under an alter because I haven’t made up my mind.
    I may as well start at the beginning. When I was a jr. rider, I was at the top of my game. I rode for a well known barn, lead the classes I rode in for several years. I was the kind of kid that would ride anything you put me on, and ride it well. My parents let me home school for a few years in high school, so I could be able to show and foxhunt during the week.
    As the typical story goes, senior year of high school, I discovered boys, and while I still owned a horse, I didn’t ride. I took off several years, just riding occasionally. Eventually I came back to riding. My horse at the time was a hot one, and a challenging ride. He was a ride I was up for when I was young and in good riding shape, but my trainer thought he was too much for me, and convinced me to sell him and get a new horse.

    I have had my new horse for several years. My trainer who convinced me to sell my previous horse was of no help, so I did the search myself. I have owned him since he was 8, and he is now 14 years old. I found him on Dreamhorse, drove 6 hours to go look at him, and brought him home the next weekend after his PPE. I had visited him a total of 4 times in the meantime. The seller who sold him to me purchased him off the racetrack, and let a “trainer” (basically a self proclaimed girl who just wanted a horse to ride) start him back to work. They insisted he longue for 45 min before someone rode him, used a very harsh bit on him, etc. They would set up cross rails on the lowest setting of the jump standard, and trot him up to it, and he’d stop dead. They then said “Oh… guess he isn’t feeling like jumping today” and then move onto something else. I rode him a few times, and I could tell he meant well, and was very quiet. I felt bad for the horse, and ended up purchasing him.
    When I brought him home, he was very high strung, as some TB’s are off the track. I learned the seller did not disclose that my horse was a weaver. He HATED being in a stall. He couldn’t be cross tied. I decided to turn him out for about a year, with very light work. In the meanwhile, I trained with the owner of my barn on her school horses. She belittled my riding, told me I was an awful rider, and would only let me trot in lessons. It broke my heart, because I thought I was a good rider, so I stopped training with her, and
    I finally decided to start on my own horse, and really put in time and effort into his flat work.
    Fast forward to a few years, and I now have a wonderfully quiet, kick along TB. He lives on field board, still a bit of a hard keeper, but not terrible. He’s transformed into a high-strung mess to a really neat horse. I’ve taught beginners how to ride on him, from never riding, to W/T/C. I lease him out to a 13 year old who loves him to pieces, and trail rides him, jumps him around small courses, etc. I could honestly let anyone ride him. He’s done quite well at the 4 shows I’ve taken him too, however, we’ve only jumped 2’.
    The problem is… I really thought I could cure him being a chicken over fences. When I tried him out at the place I bought him, I thought I could train him out of being so nervous about trying new jumps. After a good 5 years of riding over fences, he still will still stop at the first few fences. If you change the jumps at all (add flowers, change from a X to a vertical, etc) he gets really sticky. At shows, he has to be able to school over the fences, or do a warm up round, so he can at least see the jumps. He’s this way with other riders and trainers as well, so I’m not sure if its just my riding, since I have broken confidence, or its just the way he is. Once he’s seen the jumps, he’s wonderful. Has no issues whatever. He’s just a chicken. Since he’s been this way, even though he’s never stopped me off , and he’s not dangerous, he just needs a positive ride to the jump. I’m not sure if it’s my lack of confidence, or the “what could happen” thoughts, but I have not jumped him over 2’6. Remember, if you change the height of the fences, he gets slightly sticky again. I’ve started training with my trainer from back in my jr days, and my confidence is getting better. He said I’m still a great rider. He likes my horse as well. He called him “careful”.
    I really want to make a riding come back, be able to show successfully in the Adult A/O’s, and maybe the working hunters. I’m having my doubts about my sweet TB.
    In all honesty, he’s an easy ride, if only he wasn’t sticky or would stop as often as he does. I really believe this is a training issue. I currently have a jr rider riding him. She’s done well, and she’s jumped him as high as 3’3, and he really seems to enjoy himself.
    I don’t have a lot of money, so if I were to start over, I would probably buy another horse off the track (CANTER). I have experiance with young ones and really enjoy working with OTTBs. But who’s to say this isn’t going to happen again? What if it IS my riding, and not my horse? Is a horse like mine marketable?
    I’m thinking since he IS older, that people might not want an older horse that has this kind of issues. . Are my doubts stemming from a confidence issue of my own?
    I’d love to have input or thoughts on my situation.

  • #2
    If I were you......

    I'd work with the current trainer longer to see if you two get more confident. It sounds like the other trainer really killed your confidence and it's affecting your riding and therefore your horse. If he happily jumps with the junior, there's no reason he couldn't eventually do it with you.

    In this economy I would try to keep him longer. However, if you still don't feel right with him after working with your current trainer, reevaluate in a few months' time. Maybe also have the vet look at him just in case.
    I love my Econo-Nag!


    • #3
      Your story sounds a bit like mine, in different order, but here's what I see when I read your story. Sometimes, as you might suspects, you just can't get out of your own way to see the facts to analyse them and this is what I see. Other folks may see other things.

      1) I think your horse is exactly what he is. You were able to correlate his history from before you got him to his performance as you've had him. I don't think that's going to change. I think his approach to the fences is just what it is - sticky, and it will always be that way. He may go well sometimes, and better for one than another, but he is what he is, and I think you and his 13 yo friend are riding him for what he is.

      I think if you try to push him or expect more out of him you will be more frustrated, think about it, you are frustrated to an extent with how he is now. Its like a boyfriend, there comes a point when you have to acknowlege this is just who he is, is that ok or not ok for me?

      2) I think that you have struggled very well with people and horses and circumstances which have not been optimal, and with each situation you have pushed yourself to do your best with those circumstances. I think the bad trainer, the sticky horse, the time off, make it hard to be as successful as you want to be. Don't blame it all on yourself. What you can do is evaluate whether or not you have done your best and worked out a way to excel despite the more negative situations, and I think you have. You have a good work ethic, and you can do anything. Take the credit.

      3) Because of the horse's personality and history, and since he is only what he is, if you decide you want to try again with a different horse, you have the chance to do just that. I would find a really good stiuation for him if you can't keep two horses. Ideally, lease him out. Let him be himself, and turn your attention to something else.

      If you want a new horse to clear your head and work on from early stages again (and that is what I would do, too) I suggest you get another Canter horse which maybe hasn't been with anyone else yet, and you can influence the horse positively in its new carreer, from taking it down from off the track to starting it on the flat, as you know, lots of cavaletti and cross rails on longe and flat and he will not have the chance to develope worries about approaching fences. Also, as you know, fences in company on the trails is also a good confidence builder when the time comes.

      I would look for a horse with a good mind, as well as the conformation to power up on jumps, so this time you can take more time to search for the right youngster. I would again get a youngster, unstarted except for his track work, so you can have the greatest chance with him.

      I think if you do that, you might end upwith a nice advanced horse one day.

      The think I want to point out is something I also saw in your story - worries that the same thing might happen to the new horse because it is your riding not the horse's fault. I would discourage you from feeling that way. I think most of this current horse's problems are not your fault, you seem to have dealt with him well, and that they are the horse not you. However, any horse you get might have similary problems, or other problems which might make you decide it isn't going to work out. Let each horse have his own issues, his own personality, his own weaknesse and strenghts. If your next horse isn't the jumper you want, quickly bolster his training in dressage and sell him on, and get another. I would just not spend years and years on a horse who isn't coming up to where you want in a horse, but don't blame your self, be realisitic about each horse's weakensses. You will keep learning and you will come across just the horse you hope for. Keep going. You don't have to stay with this boy because you might fail with your next one. You can get another one and fail in some way too, that's ok! Just keep going, and keep getting better, as you are wont to do.

      Hope that makes sense. Good luck and happy hunting.
      Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


      • #4
        Sounds like this one was a basket case when you got him and you have done a great job turning him into a solid citizen.

        Also sounds like your last JAW of a trainer did you no favors but you have moved past that.

        So, stop kicking yourself.

        But, AnotherRound is right, he is what he is. That is not a great Jumper that will carry you to 3'6". He is fine, happy and productive where he is and can always find a place there as he moves into his mid and late teens.

        If you can't keep two, go ahead and try to lease him out or sell him to somebody you know will give him a good and usefull home.

        Square peg, round hole and all that....they just are what they are and you need to develop that, not try to push them in new directions they already indicate they will not be so good at.
        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


        • #5
          AnotherRound said it all (& best)

          I just wanted to add that I have a "careful" one too.
          At shows Vern always let me know they had changed the course from his last round - he'd prop and snort as we went in.
          Heck! He'd even do it at home if the fences were set differently from last time he jumped them!
          He is a bit of an "artiste" and if I fiddle with him before a jump, I get a chip or a stop.
          But like your guy, once that's done we carry right on.

          You may be able to work through this with your current horse. Or it may just sour him so why take the chance?

          If he's already leased to the 13yo and they are getting along, why not offer him to her (if her parents are willing to buy)?
          You could give him a good home - even ask for buyback - and move on to another horse for yourself.
          Is she the same rider who has jumped him 3'3"?

          Since your trainer likes him maybe he knows of someone suitable.
          There should certainly be a market for a steady 2'6" horse.
          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


          • #6
            Some horses just do not have an aptitude for jumping--your horse sounds like one of them. I wouldn't necessarily say he was chicken but his heart just doesn't sound like it's into jumping. I got a TB mare who had been jumped but never officially even broke to saddle and was a nervous wreck around jumps--she never really did get over being forced to jump without any training. (It really shakes a horse's confidence if you don't train them properly for what's expected of them.)

            It's clear that you are wanting to move on so I would sell the horse if you are so inclined (or can you free lease him? That way you would have some say about what happens to him in the future). Just explain to whomever takes him that he is not a jumper and isn't interested in being a jumper--end of story, that way they can't say you didn't warn them. In fact, I would put that clause in my contract or sales agreement so you have it in writing if the buyer or lessee tries to cry foul!

            I'd say go get yourself another horse and train it right from the start! Blank slate, if you will. Find a decent trainer who doesn't belittle you and when you run into a roadblock take a lesson!!!! It sounds as if you have a grasp on the horses' mind and your feet firmly planted on the ground you just need a cheerleader in case things start to go South with your new horse!

            Good luck! There are plenty of horses out there right now for you to choose from. Don't forget to do a pre-purchase exam!!!!
            "I'm not much into conspiracy theories but if everyone thinks alike you don't need a plot!" ~person from another bulletin board whose name has been long forgotten~


            • #7
              Don't have any advice, but can relate. My dearly departed for the Bridge older guy and
              first horse had to check out the jumps. Once had had seen them, he sailed right over.
              He tolerated flat work and turned into a different horse when ground poles, jumps, whatever came into the picture. Perked right up!

              He was the same way about his other surroundings--he always noticed things out of place
              in the aisle and had to look or snort at the bucket or muck fork that wasn't where it belonged. Same for something new in his outside world. Trash cans fascinated him and had to be thoroughly checked out.

              He was what he was.....and miss him immensely after almost 4 years.


              • #8
                Another Round covered just about everything and very well.
                The only thing I would add is .... the next horse....don't get one you 'feel bad for'...
                You can't take all of them so look for one that you think you can live with now (like the boyfriend thing...don't get a major 'fixerupper' )
                * <-- RR Certified Gold Star {) <-- RR Golden Croissant Award
                Training Tip of the Day: If you can’t beat your best competitor, buy his horse.
                NO! What was the question?


                • #9
                  AnotherRound Made it very clear - well said!

                  A "careful" horse is not always an easy or fun horse to ride. He and you have a communication and confidence issue that makes you not the best of teams.

                  At the same time you have had a lousy trainer - which is a tragic. Remember ANYONE can hang out a shingle and give you advice that you pay for. It does not make it sound advice or good training because it cost you money! DO NOT LET IT DEFINE YOU!

                  Lease your guy. Look for a better fit to lease or buy for yourself.

                  You have the desire to see where you can go with this - go there NOW!
                  "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"


                  • #10
                    I feel for you!

                    It could be my name at the top of your post! I have the exact same horse. Thats why he's a hunter and not an eventer, haha.

                    If you change the jumps at home.. I mean, make a crossrail into a vertical at the same height.. he is going to look and potentially stop. I've jumped him to 3ft and its not about "scary" fences.. its about things being "different". I've had trainers describe him as "careful" too. It does make him a beautiful jumper.

                    I have considered divorcing my horse as well. So many of them will jump anything you point them at, or at least.. once they've jumped flowers, they'll always jump flowers, you know?

                    I feel for you, its very frustrating.
                    Rural Property Specialist
                    Keller Williams Realtors

                    Email Me for Horse Property!


                    • #11
                      Agree with other posters... your horse is what he is and it doesn't sound like he wants to be a jumper. There is nothing wrong with that, its not your fault, its not his fault, it is just who he is.

                      If he's a nice mover and does well with his flatwork, why not take a dressage lesson or two on him and see if he's happier with that? If so, you could lease or sell him to a dressage rider and then look for a horse more suited for what you want to do?

                      You didn't ruin your horse. The work you've put into him to make him a solid citizen will hopefully keep him in a good home for the rest of his life.
                      Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                      Witherun Farm


                      • #12
                        Could it be that your lack of confidence is what makes your horse a stopper/gawker?

                        I just don't think you can entirely say it is the horse when it very well could be the riders.
                        Boss Mare Eventing Blog


                        • #13
                          The other posters have it right: you did a great job of turning this horse into a good citizen, but he is what he is. He's not going to be a top-level show horse. There's nothing wrong with that, unless what you really want to do is get back into showing at something beyond the local or schooling show level.

                          So, that I think is the real question. Do you want to get back into showing? Or is that nostalgia talking?

                          Personally, I'd lease this guy (in other words keep owning him) and buy another horse to go out and show with. It sounds as though you have a great relationship with your horse, and that he is a great horse; you might want to have him back to hack around on. Also, as another poster mentioned, selling him in this economy might be challenging (for you) and risky (for him).

                          Good luck.
                          "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky