Before We Move Forward

We need to revisit the past.

This is a post I’ve been putting off, but now that June and I are moving forward under saddle, I think I need to fess up about something in our past.

I’m not going to get into specifics because I don’t want to point fingers, and hey, we all make mistakes, but here’s the gist of it. (Also, negative comments about any party involved will be deleted. Let’s just take this as a learning opportunity, shall we?)

Last October, I had June in full training. I asked to be the first rider on her, and as her time with the trainer was coming to an end, she suggested I hop on her. In my mind, I would hop on her, we would walk around the round pen and it would be a major success.

IMG_6990

Our first ride!

But the trainer she was with starts horses differently than I had imagined. She feels it is important to walk, trot, and canter, in the first ride. I did not know this, and was not prepared when she had June trot. When she told me she was going to have June canter, every instinct told me to say something, to tell her I wasn’t comfortable cantering her, but I didn’t.

Instead, I clamped and stiffened and became a brick on my poor horse’s back.

As you can imagine, June felt this. And she responded by becoming a bucking bronc. She started bucking and hopping and after flying forward and back, all I could think was “I need to get off this horse NOW.”

So, I jumped off and landed on my feet, but I was basically bucked off. And, because we are dealing with horses, I had to get BACK ON and walk and trot again.

The whole experience left me sad and angry. I wish I had trusted my instincts and just walked around the round pen. I wish I had said something. I respect this trainer and feel her methods are valid. But, as we spoke about the incident later, we both admitted that it’s different having a pro be the first ride than it is an amateur who has never ridden an un-broke horse. Having June canter, when I was so unbalanced in the saddle, was a mistake. We can both admit that.

So, now that I have June back, I am essentially re-training her under saddle. The trainer did get some nice rides on her before she went out to pasture, but my last ride, was the one where I came off of her.

june hay

Wait. I did something wrong?

So, poor Trainer Sarah now has to pick up the pieces. I’ve been working so hard on her walk work,(we can turn and woah and it’s basically amazing) that Sarah felt it was time to trot! I asked to work on the lunge line, as I had no idea what was going to happen and didn’t want June to take off bucking. In the first walk to trot transition I was pretty nervous and June could feel it. Her back got tight and she tucked her tail. But that was it. As we started the next one, I was again nervous, but I reminded myself to breathe and the moment I did, June’s entire body relaxed as well. Literally, Sarah mentioned how much calmer she was the moment I relaxed. So, we spent the next ten minutes trotting, working on upward and downward transitions and it got better and better. June was perfect and SUCH a good girl.

It’s amazing how in tune with me she is. It makes sense though. Thus far her life has consisted of following my lead whenever we are together. I need to remember that she relies on me for guidance and support. If I am nervous, why shouldn’t she be?

I told Sarah I still had some hesitation about ever cantering and she assured me we can take things as slow as I want. I really like Sarah’s method of starting horses. There is zero hurry and her hope is one day we will just fall into the canter, rather than make a big deal of it. (And cantering is a LONG way down the road.. if I hadn’t mentioned my fear Sarah would have never brought it up.)

I will say June’s trot was amazing. It’s so much bigger than Georgie’s and I mentioned how fast it felt.  Sarah told me it wasn’t fast, there’s just more movement,  and I need to let it happen, not hinder it. No pulling back!

IMG_8327

Let this floaty trot happen!

I’m still so excited for the partnership I have with this horse and feel a sense of relief knowing that moving forward, I’ll trust my gut and go as slow as I want. June is proving to be a smart horse, and I need to trust her as much as she trusts me. So, when I mention any fears, now you know why.  My hope is to get more and more comfortable at the trot and then see what the future holds on this horse who seems so willing to be patient with me.

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14 thoughts on “Before We Move Forward

  1. Auntysocial says:

    Oh God how awful and bloody annoying for you. I’ve met some weird and wonderful trainers of both dogs and horses over the years and never trust any of them that start out telling me / others what’s what and what they should or shouldn’t do regardless of what the owners think.

    There’s a young lass at the yard where I have mine and she owns this beautiful cob who is just the epitome of a calm kick-along cob if you will but she had lessons with someone that sounded horrendous and, having pushed her to do too much too soon she slipped off and didn’t get on again for nearly eighteen months.

    The longer she’d left it the more her confidence took a kicking and after we’d started chatting and she felt comfortable enough to open up, I suggested she took her horse in the arena just with a bridle on and literally walk him around without any pressure or any eyes on her to make her feel self-conscious.

    She was full of “But what if I fall off? I’m scared he might throw me” initially but all I could do was reassure her he wasn’t a horse that would suddenly go full bucking bronco and in any case if she did come off, it’d be a clean slip and a soft landing.

    She nervously got on the mounting block and very nervously clicked her tongue and true to form he set off very gently steadily plodding.

    Her confidence visibly grew and then she came out with words I wanted to hear “Would you mind getting me his saddle from the tack room?”

    Within a week she was jumping poles and won 2nd place at the local show last weekend.

    You know your horse better than anyone and your horse knows you just as well so you’re right to trust that and go with instinct from now on.

    Look forward to reading how you get on 🙂

    Like

  2. Emily says:

    well… that’s not exactly the beginning you want. I have been the first to sit on a few horses, and the first rides were always super short and positive. However, baby horses are pretty unpredictable hahaha. I had a friend who broke a mare a 5, when the mare was about 17 hands…. Everything went super smooth until she trotted. The sit trot, no problem. The second my friend when to post, the mare threw on the brakes and reared up. It took a while to regain that trust, but they got there. There’s no rush, so just keep worrying about putting positive experiences into the trust bucket.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Confidence is such a fickle thing and it is super hard to speak up in the face of “authority” specially when you are paying for their expertise. I’m sure no long lasting harm was done in that ride and it really sounds like June will do anything for you and feeds off your energy. There is no rush to get anywhere with June at any speed except the one you are comfortable with. There is a life time of adventures ahead of you two!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. emma says:

    oh man i hate that feeling of wishing we had stuck with our gut instincts instead of pushing onward…. it happens tho. and the work you’re doing with June now is going to be so so so instrumental in building up the trust for the future. it’s unfortunate to have to start from a place feeling where you’re already trying to make up for bad experiences…. but again, it really does happen.

    i think it makes total sense tho that you’re changing tack to focus on going slow now so that each step kinda happens almost organically. i figure since i’m the one doing most of the work on my horse (should mention here that i fully acknowledge that restarting a race horse for riding is 1000% different than starting a baby), that i really should only be taking each step when i’m pretty confident that *i* can handle it. which means that sometimes the horse is ready for the next step before i am. but that’s ok – the horse can wait haha.

    anyway tho i love your attitude with how you’re approaching your work with june, and how you’re thinking about her future. mistakes and setbacks will always always always happen – they’re unavoidable. but we *can* control how we move forward from them, and that’s what matters!

    Liked by 1 person

    • nadsnovik says:

      Thanks! And actually, I think a lot about restarting OTTBs as I work with June, and actually, if I did ever get one, I don’t think I’d do it much differently. I think you and Charlie having such great success because you’re being patient and methodical. Same as working with a baby horse!

      Like

  5. KateRose says:

    I have definitely heard that idea from local trainers here too (the WTC on the first ride). Not my idea of a fun first ride for sure! I think you have a great plan of attack for re-addressing the canter. The canter has become an extra big deal for me after breaking my nose last year and I’m still getting my confidence back at it. Just take all the time you need to feel confident about it 🙂 As a random tip from me and Henry, I do groundwork now and have trained him that the “kiss” sound means canter. If I am a tense useless noodle and I want to cue the canter he will still do it after having that sound cemented in his brain. I know we can’t rely on that forever but it’s helping me build back my confidence.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tracy says:

    Ugh, it stinks that you had such a tough first ride, BUT we all make mistakes and we all fall off at some point. At least you’ve gotten yours out of the way early!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ah man. Sorry you had such a sucky first ride. I liked to start mine walk trot and get comfy before cantering. I think you’re doing well with your restart and learning! You’ll get there to be able to canter her soon 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Alanna says:

    Sorry you guys had a bad experience but there’s nothing wrong with going slow and steady while you re-build your confidence with June. You two appear to be doing great and developing an excellent partnership. I’m excited to follow along on your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. KC Scott says:

    So it may not have been the first ride that you wanted, but there will be so many other rides that will more than make up for it. Sounds like you’re already on the right track.

    As ammys it’s hard to go with instinct when it goes against what a pro says. Ask me how I know. I made so many bad decisions by allowing pros to dictate my every move with my horse early on in our training, because I thought obviously they knew better than me. But you know what’s right for you, so trust your gut!

    But you and Sarah have a great relationship, so will be able to keep on track from here on out.

    In a few years it’ll just be a funny story- “hey I basically got bucked off on our first ride, and here we are now, winning all the things.”

    🙂

    Like

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