Tuesday, January 31, 2012

the what ifs. . .

The good news: Yesterday I did yoga for the first real time ever (trying it on the Wii doesn't count). All I can say is WOW! It was nothing like I expected. It was calming and stretchy, yet I felt I really was working and concentrating on what I was doing. All outside thoughts were gone. I really enjoyed yoga and I am excited to continue with it. And, the temperature was 55 degrees today! Horses went outside and got all muddy! They loved it! Shy did not want to come inside, but stayed put when I showed her the peppermint I brought. Good girl. At least she is not running, as long as I have the peppermint. 
Not ready to come in!
The bad news: Yoga gave me a lot to think about afterwards. First, I wanted to do the yoga to help improve my balance and become a better rider. If I was a better rider, I probably could have stayed on Shyloh when she spooked and I fell off the back of her. But then I got to thinking, I am not a rider. I have barely ridden Shyloh and and mostly rode Mia, the Haflinger I leased, but not for that long. 
Me and Mia. Pretty in purple :)
Old barn had crappy lighting, but me on Mia.
With Mia, we would walk and trot, but the only canter I attempted was a few steps. This was mostly due to me, but partly due to Mia because just to get her into a trot was quite the process. She was a lazy pony!  I was always able to stay on Mia when she gave her little bucks and rears, when she spooked at birds in the outside arena, when I rode her bareback and she completely ignored what I was telling her and took me down the aisle to get to the grain stall (multiple times), when she would almost canter back to the barn after a ride down the road, and when she thought it would be fun to chase a van down the road. That horse sure had a mind of her own! But Shy and Mia are two totally different horses. Mia was mostly a lesson horse and pretty much nothing bothered her. She was also about 18 years old and had a lot of experience behind her.
Mia loved grass like no other, once she busted  the metal clip of  a line that was acting as a barrier  of a doorway as she escaped the barn to get to grass. 
This then led to the thought that since I am not a rider, what I am doing with Shyloh? What about our main goal of trail riding? Which in turn led to. . .

What if I can't ever ride/drive Shy?
What if she is too spooky for trail rides?
What if she can't ever get her "spook" under control?
What if I keep falling off of her?
What if I get seriously hurt?
What if I get a saddle and she spooks and I fall of the side but my foot gets stuck in the stirrup and she drags me around?
What if I don't ever take lessons? 
What if I do?
What if I can't find anyone to give me lessons? I do not want to compete or ride a discipline. I just want to have fun with her.
What if I am not good enough for Shy?
What if she is not the horse for me?
What if, what if, what if!!

It's a dangerous game to play. There were about a thousand more what ifs running through my mind, but I won't bore anyone. Then I got to feeling really blah. And that is where I am now. Blah. But once again, my million miles a minute mind starts to think, well, we DID get this far. We ARE making improvements, slowly but surely. Maybe we won't be able to ride this trail season. Maybe we will. I have no idea. Maybe I need some direction.
We can do it!
Things that I know to be true: I need a saddle. I need lessons. But these are entirely different subject matters to perhaps discuss at a later date.


  1. Those "what if's" can drive you crazy for sure. So "what if" you simply concentrate on forming a bond & having fun for the time being? Horrid weather is a great time for all of that. I think it's super that you've been in no hurry and there is still no need for changing that. The more you do on the ground the safer Shy will be in saddle for sure.
    There are two laws of riding however, #1 it's not if you'll fall, it's when (you've already done that)& #2 the hardest part about riding is the ground (you've already found that out).
    Keep in mind my Dr.'s Mother broke her ribs falling out of bed (you can get injured doing anything). I broke mine doing an obstacle course with Camryn. We both healed, but I was at least doing something I love & have a story to tell in my old age ;)
    Keep you chin up, winter can play games with your head!

    1. Winter sure is playing games with my head! I need a pick me up!

  2. For every negative thought you have, exchange it for a positive. The most poweful thing out there is your mind and your attitude. Of course you will be able to ride her. Of course you will be able to control those spooks. Maybe it will take time, but you will get there. If you feel lost, get help from someone knowledgeable. There are always ways to get where you want to be if you keep trying. It sounds cheesy but it's true.

    I do hot yoga every wednesday and it has done wonders for my core strength. Glad you enjoyed it!

    1. Yoga is great! I never expected it. I need the power of positive thinking. I am trying!

  3. You need to focus on the positive and how great you've done! You and Shy have come a long way. You are starting to figure each other out. One trainer I rode with said it takes a year to establish a connection with your horse and I truly believe that. Some partnerships take time to forge properly.

    I should start doing yoga and I keep meaning to, but I get home from school and I am just so darn lazy!

    1. Yoga is great. So relaxing. We are getting a connection, but I am still doubting our riding. But I am trying to be positive!

  4. Look at Shyloh's face!!! : ) What if she stares at you like that? What if she touches everything you ask her to, just for a little tidbit? What if she stands perfectly still for a peppermint, or lets you catch her sleeping in her stall? What if she stands quiet at the mounting block or trots willingly around the arena without a lead? What if you guys go for a stroll up the driveway on a lead line, or a drive up the road in her harness?!!!

    What if, you ARE making progress!!! : ) I think you've got some excellent goals (saddle, lessons, more exposure) that you'll accomplish. Just takes patience and fighting through a lot of these 'blah' days. We all have them. Just look at Shy's face and remember that it's not all about the riding. It's about the relationship and joy you get out of being with her.

    P.S. You're right about the great minds! Now I'm super excited about yoga! : )

    1. Slap! I feel like I got slapped! I think I needed this wake up call! I have just been down in the dumps, probably because of the weather. Thanks!

  5. Oh... I know those 'What If's'.... Did you overhear me saying them?!!
    I wonder about what I'm doing with my guys. One day I'm ready to send them to a trainer. The next day I think I'm gonna do it myself. Then the following day I'm going to sell the horses. Then, the next day I'm going to ride the hell out of them... and then do some driving. I'm driving my friends and my hubby NUTS!
    Maybe it's the time of year and the weather than contributes to all of this!!
    Did you read Kate's blog today (Ride a Good Horse)? One thing I liked that she said is that she's going to have her horses receive some professional training, work with the trainer herself, and then solicit ideas from the trainer as to how suitable her horses may or may not be. I really liked that... and over the next few months working with the trainer I have found, seek his ideas about 'suitability'.

    1. I am scared about the 'suitability'! I did read Kate's blog. I think the weather has a lot to do with these thoughts.
      I did read Kate's blog. I was thinking maybe I need someone (a trainer) who is real experienced to ride Shy. But who? I have no idea.

  6. Everyone pretty much said anything I could/would have said. :) This is just a moment in time and it will pass. I have to agree with the positive thoughts statement. It's unbelievable how much negative thought patterns can affect you, your life and your health. I struggle with it, especially in the winter (vitamin D deficiency), but we just have to keep working on it. You will get there in time. There is no hurry. The journey is just a part of it (a fun part!). Just enjoy Shy, learn about each other, learn to trust each other, etc. You're doing fantastic! If you're ever worried about something or don't know how to do something, just ask us. Surely one of us can help you. No need to ever think you aren't good enough for Shy (or anyone else for that matter). You love her and that's the most important thing!

  7. Oh Epona, I've had my shares of what-ifs.

    I've also had my shares of falling off. Bareback on the pony is a tricky thing to manage, especially since I think Mitch purposefully greases down his back for me to do the ole slip'n'slide. I can stay on lots of other horses bareback, but Haflingers seem to ooze slippery. I solved that by not riding bareback on him very often, using a bareback pad on the rare occasion that I do ride bareback and a rope around his neck that I can kind of brace against.

    I've not had a lot of experience with Haflingers as far as a breed generalization goes. It's mostly been Mitch, and then a Haffie or two in Kentucky. They are ... not easy horses at times, and I say this from my years of riding experience. My OTTB was a walk in the park compared to Mitch at times, and I really had to make a sharp u-turn and basically rearrange my riding style and my horse handling style to suit him. I could probably go on for days about the bolting issue I had with him. Had me in tears quite a few times, especially once you start adding in yelling barnmates. But I really gritted my teeth and got down to the basics, and I wasn't a first-time horse owner at that point. We've established a system, one that works, and I follow it each and every time I work with him. So far, no problems. *knocks wood*

    I'd keep working on the ground issues. If you can get some books or DVDs, I'd go with Clinton Anderson's "Gaining Respect and Control on the Ground" series. I'm sort of two minds about Clinton Anderson. I think he's a little too aggressive with the horses he works with, but on the other hand, I've done that series and the groundwork there, and I can tell ya, horses will listen. Besides, it's a little easier to get than most of the other DVDs. Hopefully people you know have ones you can borrow. I personally like Mark Rashid and Buck Brannaman since I see them more as Horsemanship trainers rather than the 'natural horsemanship' gurus like *shudder* Parelli. *shudder* I've been to their clinics (though I'm too poor to actually ride my horse in them, so I just audit) so getting the hands on feel of watching them in person is really good. Mark uses akido in his philosophy, so that's another plus in my book. If you can, go to clincis. Audit, audit, audit. I'm eagerly looking forward to 2 days of auditing Buck's clinic this coming month.

    Next thing I'd do is stick with all the groundwork training and get some solid saddletime under my belt with a good trained horse. And lessons, I had years of lessons, and while I don't take lessons now, I've never stopped learning. I'm not sure how much riding experience you have, so getting a solid feel for what to do in scary siutations is important. Always move move move those feet. And then definitely get a good saddle, and work the mare.

    It never really helps to ask 'what-if' when it comes to horses. It's more "I can. I will. I do." If that doesn't work, you try a new plan of action, and keep going from there. I only think in the moment when I work with Mitch or Jet. They don't understand future or past tense well. They only understand 'Now'

  8. Oh, I had a blah day yesterday. I hate those days.

    Don't worry, taking things slowly is best for the horse and rider IMO. You're both improving and as long as you're happy with Shy and she's happy with you, then it doesn't really matter how long things are taking, at least you know she won't have any gaps in her training from being rushed!

    My mother came out to watch me ride Jack once and all I got from her was "Oh, well I don't really have anything nice to say. He should be doing flying lead changes by now and I expected him to be a lot further along." (Keep in mind, I had owned him for less than a year and he was almost completely untouched when I first got him) Made me pretty sad, but then I realized - I don't care if we can't do all that yet! We are making progress, he makes me happy and it seems like Shy makes you happy. How could she not? Look at her adorable face, I want to jump through my computer screen and kiss her cute little nose.

    Don't worry about if you aren't making as much progress as quickly as you wish you were, you guys will get there!

    1. Thanks! I think part of it may be other people's view that I am not as far as her as I should be. But you are right, we will get there, even if it takes a decade!


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