Last week, I was obviously having a bit of a rough time of it all. The stress leading up to traveling with Foster to the vet on Thursday, and not knowing if I would make it there without breaking down (the car, not me), was especially a bit much to handle.
So as I drove out to the barn last Wednesday, frazzled and bitching on the phone to my oh-so-patient hubs, I knew I could not ride that day.
One of my biggest light bulb moments since I really took over the reins training my own horses is this: not every day is going to be a good day to ride. Not because of the horses, or the weather, or other excuses, but sometimes just because I’m mentally not able to. Recognizing those times and foregoing saddle time can be tricky and tough, but its important nonetheless.
The reason for this, is that in my mind, if I’m not in the mindset to communicate effectively, then it is unfair to the horse to ask him to respond to muddled requests, and could lead to confusion in his training as a result. Even more so, if I bring my emotional baggage to the saddle, it is absolutely and unequivocally not okay to expect the horse to fix my problems, or in the worse case scenario, to take those emotional frustrations out on the horse.
In the past with Ivan, there were certain issues that we had that would make me just plain mad. Much of the time it had to do with him bulldozing through my aids at the canter, or using his incredible strength to drag me around the arena at the trot and refuse to transition. I’ll admit it, I cursed, a lot some days, but if ever I got to the point where I thought I wanted to beat the senseless creature silly, I would just get off. Get off, hand walk around the arena, and if I could collect my thoughts and find some zen, get back on. If zen could only be found in a good night’s sleep and a glass of Cabernet, that would have to be okay too. It doesn’t mean failure if we have to try again another day, it just means that day was not our day.
Thankfully Foster is much, much easier on my patience, even though we have had our fair share of rough patches. There’s been a couple rides over the years where work was either too frustrating, and it felt like a square peg in a round hole, and I’ve just given up and let Foster play couch while watching others go around, and resolved to try again tomorrow. I try to respect that he has bad days as well, because really, horses are not machines, and well, bad days happen. Having that level of respect for his training is to me, part of being a horsewoman.
It doesn’t happen very often, but making those tough decisions comes with the territory of being an adult amateur. Balancing work life, life-life and horses comes with costs. And if you’re lucky, all it takes is waiting until the right time and getting that magic ride that will last you through the week.