Monday, February 24, 2014

Not the Journey you Wanted

So I posted about the ride I had on Sunday, but I didn't post about the hour long conversation I had with a very good friend after that.  We got on the topic of doing what is right for your horse and how so few people in the horse world actually do that.  Now, don't get me wrong, we weren't poo-poo-ing on horse people, we have both made plenty of mistakes when it comes to our horses, I think everyone does.  Instead we were talking about people who don't trust themselves, and don't listen to their horses.

Not everyone knows this, but when I got Mollie things weren't always pretty.  In fact, the first year or two... (or maybe even 3?) was somewhat scary.  When I got Mollie she was on the cusp of her 5th birthday and I was 11 (almost 12).  I had been riding for about four years but probably had no business owning a (very) green 5 year old.  When we tried Mollie she was sensible enough and I had a great first summer with her.  Around the fall of the first year we had her however, everything changed.  Looking back there were many reasons for this, but at the time it wasn't always clear.

- She moved from the 24/7 turnout she had grown accustomed to her whole life to being stalled overnight
- We moved her to a barn with an indoor where she had previously been ridden mostly outdoors
- She got significantly less exercise when I was in school than she did in the summer
- She got a little older, a lot wiser, and realized she could be bad.

When we bought Mollie my main goals were to compete in 4H shows, and maybe do some pony club.  I knew that getting her as a 4/5 year old would mean it would be a little while before we were ready, but I was ok with that.  Little did I know it would be years, and years, and years before I could confidently take her to a show.  In fact, it was years before I could confidently ride her at home.  We faced tons of struggles and there were plenty of times I was downright terrified of my own horse.  But for one reason or another, I kept her, and kept working.

Looking back, our journey wasn't what I thought it would be.  But it was my journey for a reason.  Through owning Mollie I learned more about myself and grew more as a person than I think I could have with any other horse.  She taught me that no matter how bad things get, they always get better.  Granted, it's only a matter of time before something else goes wrong, but things tend to work themselves out eventually.

She also taught me to trust myself.  I've owned Mollie for almost thirteen years.  I know that horse so well and I know there are people out there who could critique our riding up and down.  But you know what?  There's a reason I don't do certain things with her, and a reason I won't ask certain things of her.  But no one else would know that, because she only has me.  As horse owners it's our job to stick up for our horses, to advocate for them.  So many of us think of our horses as our children, yet we don't trust ourselves to make decisions for them.  Of course I don't suggest making major medical decisions without consult from a vet, but trust yourselves people!! You know your horses better than anyone else, and don't let anyone convince you otherwise.

I was recently talking to someone I used to ride with who has fallen into a place of questioning herself and not trusting her instincts.  This woman loves her horse so much and their relationship is absolutely adorable.  She would never in a million years do anything to compromise his health or well being.  But right now?  She kind of is.  She has this horse in a "program" where many of her decisions about the horse are dictated by her trainer.  This is fine... except when it isn't.  Without getting into too many details she confessed to me that her horse has been NQR for quite some time.  Trainer and vet passed it off as an abcess, and given time it should pass.  She seemed unsure however and mentioned that it seemed like he's been off for too long, and she thinks something else is wrong.  When I asked how long he's been off she said seven weeks.  That was so absurd to me!! It seriously made me so upset to think that this woman who knows there is something more going on is afraid to act on her gut because a trainer has convinced her she doesn't know best.

I mostly bit my tongue, gave my (very humble) opinion that she should go with her gut and get another opinion if she felt it was needed, and walked away very happy that I trusted myself to make the right decisions for my horse.  I'm so glad she has taught me to listen to her, because if I don't, who will?

Note: It is not my intention to come off as "preach-y".  Goodness knows I have plenty to learn about horses and horse ownership.  These are simply my thoughts on what my horse has taught me over the last 13 years and what I wish I would have told that friend who doesn't trust herself.  As of tomorrow we go back to my regular program of screw-ups.

1 comment:

  1. Hard to see the right thing to do sometimes when you're in the middle of a situation.