Tuesday, August 27, 2013

i'm a mess inside

I could sit here and write that I harnessed Shyloh up and hooked up the sled with a 50 pound bag of bedding pellets, took Shy for a line drive around the property and Shy did pretty good. I could sit here and write that Shy seemed a little jumpy but worked through it, she listened extremely well, and we had no attempted take offs. I could sit here and write that Shy gave me a decent line drive and we ended on a great note. And all of that would be true. It is what we did today. And it is what I would normally write about because I do my best to stay positive. 

But I really can't get over the fact that we have not moved forward in our training, but backwards. We started out the show season with such greatness. We were driving in the cart classes and doing so well for us. Even after the run away cart incident, Shy was able to bounce back quickly and we were able to hook and drive her the following weekend. 

Still a goof
But after this last attempted run away with Beth, Shy seems so nervous and tense and jumpy. I can visibly see her clench her muscles and twitch from whatever she thinks is coming. You can just feel the tension in the air. I spent a long time after her harness was on just talking to her, hoping to ease her mind a bit. Then I spent the whole line drive talking to her. But Shy still had her moments. She does this "spook", which I call the Fred Flintstone. . . her legs move so quick, but she doesn't go anywhere. And she doesn't spook at the traffic, semi trucks, cars, or motorcycles speeding down the road. She spooks at un-normal things, like she thinks I sound mad behind her or she thinks she did something wrong. Those are the things that just send her falling apart and into hyper-tense mode. I feel we have just fallen so far backwards. 
I know she CAN do it. . .
Then I start to question myself. The what ifs (that never do any good anyway). . .
What if Shy doesn't have whatever it is that is needed to be a driving pony?
What if all of these incidences are her way of telling me she doesn't want to do this?
What if she will always be unreliable and too scared to drive?
What if she can't be be "fixed"?
What if. . . ?
But why does she get herself so worked up?
So, after a long drawn out discussion with myself about my feelings (something I tend to ignore most of the time), I came to the conclusion that I am sad, frustrated, discouraged, and a wee bit depressed about this. Compounding on the really crappy time that Shy decided to unravel is a bunch of other personal stuff going on, which makes it that much worse. My favorite get away and coping skill is getting me down and sending me spinning into a frenzy. Why Shy? I can almost see why people choose crack, almost. I have tried crying, but I just can't do it. I think it might make me feel better, kind of a release, but the tears don't come. I am just really at a loss with what I should do. There are many options: send her to training (where? none in the area, plus money is an issue right now), sell her (um, no), have her be an expensive pasture pet (I'd rather not), find another discipline (perhaps), or keep on keeping on. I don't know. I am not looking for answers, just trying to get my thoughts out and document where I am right now in this journey. But, I guess it's not an adventure if it doesn't have some rough spots, right? I am certain that we will get through it, but right now I just feel that I am in a whirlwind of emotion. Ugh.


  1. Allie, not that I'm advocating turning her into a pasture pet, but think about backing off of the driving for a while. You and she both enjoyed the clicker training. Maybe this is her way of telling you to just back off, that it's stressing her out. Maybe you two just need to play for a little bit.

    Could also be that you're carrying your personal stress to the barn and she's reacting to you, which increases your stress, which she reacts to, which increases your stress...

    I think you just need some time simply enjoying your horse, no matter what form it takes.

  2. Hi Allison,
    So sorry your going through a rough spell. I agree with GunDiva just go back to relaxing with her for a while. I do drive and have trained many a pony to drive from ground training on up, so feel free to email me privately if you wish. I would be happy to offer some other suggestions.
    I am sure some of these episodes have gotten both you and Shy on edge . Best to just gain each others trust again with some respectful bonding realizing you are both a bit burt out right now.
    Hugs ,

  3. Enjoy your pony! Groom her, hand-walk her, love her. Just be with her. No agenda - just spend time with your horse. Isn't that really what it is all about anyway - being with Shy?

  4. I'm sorry youre going through this right now :( why not take the fall off from driving and do something different?

  5. :( It sounds like you both need a break. Sending happy vibes your way....

  6. Awww, I feel your pain, your anxiety, your sadness. It is wonderful that you have a forum for putting your thoughts down and giving you the opportunity to see changes over time.
    I find life with horses to be two steps forward, and one step back. The size of the steps varies.
    I like everyone's suggestions. Building a relationship with Shy is number one - other things will fall into place.

  7. Has she had a change in diet. Years ago, we moved our horses to a new barn and told the owner what to feed them. All went well for the first year. Then, all 3 started acting like Shy. When we left to move on to a new place, we checked her feeding chart to see what they were getting, and it was quite a bit more than we started with. We had a "Duh" moment because we never even thought of the food.

    We were smarter this spring. When my sister's horse, Ranger, was acting unpredictable, we noticed he was putting on the weight. Due to his age, his exercise was decreased, and he was getting too many calories. My sister had his grain reduced, and he reverted back to his old self--and didn't lose any weight.

    Being a Haflinger, I'm sure she is an easy keeper. It wouldn't take much to push her over the edge.

    Just something to consider.

  8. Alli, after reading your post and taking a little time to think on it, this is what I have to say.

    What everyone else has said is exactly right. Take a break. Secondly, "It takes as long as it takes" This is especially true when dealing with horses with baggage. You are not on a time schedule, you do not have to have her "finished" (what ever that means) by a certain day. Go back to the beginning and start again.

    If you are stressed she will know it, and she will feel that way as well. If you have expectations on her, she will feel that pressure. Take things back to where it was just fun for both of you. Just enjoy each other.

    You will be ok. Promise

  9. Poor you, I so feel for you having been exactly where you are. Take your time, enjoy the little things and just being together and it will all come right.

    Find a new challenge even if it's just leading in hand where you eventually want to line drive and then drive (you will get there). How about trying a little Horse Agility, great for bomb proofing and building a relationship and you don't even have to leave home to try it.

    Sending you hugs from across the water xx

  10. I was thinking Horse Agility, then I read the Three Muleteers' post. I think with all the clicker training you've done, Horse Agility might be something you'd both really take to.
    But take your time. The joy is in the journey, not the destination...


Share your thoughts or comments, I love to read them!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.