Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Eating Dirt

The last time I fell off my horse was this spring. I don't really count it as falling off though. My horse slipped in the snow and fell completely on her side and I really had no choice but to go down with her. The injury was bad though with a torn meniscus I am still dealing with today.

I wasn't left with any riding fears though thank goodness. Really, I got the message and know snow does not make for great schooling footing.

I had the opportunity to take in a small hunter/jumper schooling show and felt excited to have something to take Miss Tea out to. She has been a bit neglected since I started working so much more on Savvy. We are also quite short on affordable hunter/jumper shows in my area and I just can't justify the expense right now.

It all started out great--Miss Tea was relaxed and listening well. We warmed up and started popping over small cross rails with the rest of the group and all was going great.

The thing is, Miss Tea trips. A lot. She is sound. Her feet are fine. She is just long, conformationally heavy on the forehand, and naturally clumsy. When her hooves are getting a bit long, or the ground is uneven, or if she is tired, it is worse. Canter is NOT her favorite gait and tripping happens much more then. When we do canter, I can hold her in balance, but if feels like every muscle in my body is making every step happen correctly and I can only make it around the arena once like that before I am huffing and puffing.

I came over the cross rails with the show organiser/coach helping and working on small issues as I went. One particular jump went well and the canter on landing was soft and lovely so I eased off and let the reins slightly loosen.

She stumbled. Most times she stumbles I can pull her head up and recover. This time the initial stumble was so bad her head was already down between her legs and I could do nothing. The stumble continued and continued (it seemed like a really long time because I had time to think about where I was, where her body parts were, and what might happen next). I had time to hang out on her neck as she continued to flounder and wonder where on earth was her head anyways, and then begin the air time, losing track of what was up versus down and then realising I was going to land directly in front of a falling horse. The landing was surprisingly not that bad. I guess her neck was so close to the ground by then, there wasn't far to go. As I ducted and covered waiting for the hooves to impact or a horse body to land, nothing came. I opened my eyes and saw she had stopped, dazed with a sand covered face.

We can canter sometimes
Luckily we were both okay. I was able to hop right back on and continue with the schooling show. She tripped a few more times that day. It was so hot and she is not in the best shape but I couldn't help getting discouraged as I watched other horses canter so effortlessly around their jump courses. Can Miss Tea ever get there?

Right now I am just stuck deep in a funk that my horse is still unbalanced at the canter after all the work I have put in. I have struggled with this horse. From dealing with her hot-headed spookiness, a year of laminitis from a trailer ride from hell (my fault for hiring an unknown person for transport), followed by six months of not being able to load her (not her fault for now being afraid of trailers), a full year of bucking at the canter, and then this summer she started head shaking when ridden outside (which is still undiagnosed). I have gone to hell and back for this horse and we have grown and worked through our fears together, but it always seems to be a struggle with this girl.

I don't want or need 'easy', I just don't want to be back in fear again.


  1. glad you are both ok! sorry that you're so frustrated tho. it seems pretty unfair to put in that much work and still see strength issues with Miss Tea. i'm sure she IS making progress tho and getting stronger, but perhaps it's just gonna take a while? hopefully the rest of the show went well tho - i love the pictures!!

    1. Thank you! I really want to be positive. She's an incredible horse and makes me proud more often than not. ..and if she never canters, oh well! We can be trotting cross rail queens. :P