Sunday, June 28, 2009

A disappointing day

Horse teeth

Do you ever have those kinds of days where nothing goes quite the way you planned it — and instead of feeling like you accomplished anything, you are left with a feeling of deep dissatisfaction?

Today was one of those days. Lots of little events seemed to conspire against me getting done what I wanted to. Not only were we there with (we thought) a limited amount of time, but also there was a lot of activity going on just when I was trying to accomplish something.

For starters, we were planning on going down to visit Michael's family after our visit to the barn, so we were only planning on staying at the barn for about an hour. I had a lot to get done, so I made some dumb decisions rather than working on what obviously needed work.

After grooming Panama, I rode him bareback to save time on tacking up and down. Panama started out very nicely.

Bareback horseback ride

Unfortunately, the property owner chose that particular moment in time to give the other two horses their grain. (grrrrr)

Riding my horse bareback

Panama could see and hear them getting grained, which made him anxious about getting his, too. He started misbehaving, so we did a few circles to remind him who and what he was supposed to be paying attention to.

Bareback riding

He did eventually chill out a bit, but he wasn't truly ever listening again the way he should be. I got him to a point that I considered reasonable, and then decided to move on to the trailer loading practice so that he could get his grain — a decision I now regret. I should have kept riding him until he was truly behaving himself.

Horseback riding bareback

(I have to just mention quickly that this is the first time I've seen pictures of myself riding in months, and I was amazed at how good Panama and I look together. He has filled out nicely in the last year, and I feel like we look much more proportionate to each other than we used to.)

Another reason why I regret rushing to the trailer practice was that the trailer practice sucked. So instead of accomplishing just one thing today, I felt like I did two things and accomplishing NOthing. Quite the disappointment.

Panama wanted the grain pretty badly, but for some reason he wouldn't get into the trailer.

Trailer loading practice with my horse

I think it's because there was too much commotion. The next door neighbor was working on his fence fifteen feet away, and Michael was there taking pictures of us. I didn't realize how much that would distract Panama, but it shouldn't surprise me, since it's always been just the two of us whenever I've always worked on this before.

Horse trailer loading

He did put one or two feet in a couple of times, but each time he backed right back out, like he was worried about something. I wonder if he thought Michael was there to push him the rest of the way in?

After a while, I moved the grain to the trailer floor, pushed all the way back so that he'd still have to put two feet in to get to it. I decided that as difficult as this was, I would have to revise my goals — and if he would just put his front feet into the trailer and eat some grain, I'd be happy with that and give him the rest outside of the trailer.

Eventually he did get both front feet in the trailer and ate several mouthfuls of grain. I praised him, and when he backed out, I brought the grain to where he could reach it with all four feet on the ground.

This is another thing I regret. In my experience, once Panama gets past his fear at the beginning of a practice session, he'll go in again much more easily every time thereafter. So I should have made him do it again. But I was afraid that as hard as I'd had to work for those two feet in, if he wouldn't do it again I'd lose the opportunity to end on a positive note.

In a way, training a horse is sometimes like gambling. It's hard to stop when you're ahead, and when you do you always wonder what would have happened if you'd kept at it. Would you have had another win — or two — or three — or would you have lost everything?

After today's glaring failure, there's no doubt about it — we'll be practicing again tomorrow, and every day this week until I have to give up the trailer. Hopefully this is only a temporary setback.



At June 28, 2009 at 10:32 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

"Do you ever have those kinds of days where nothing goes quite the way you planned it — and instead of feeling like you accomplished anything, you are left with a feeling of deep dissatisfaction?"

Everyday. I'm at a point where I'm afraid to plan anything, because I know I will just be disappointed. The gambling analogy is so true.

At June 29, 2009 at 5:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That wasn't a failure - it worked out OK! That rushing thing, huh - yeah, I can sympathize with that! Every time I'm in a rush, not only do I not get done what I want but other things go haywire too. But your session actually went pretty well, considering - nothing bad happened, nothing bad was learned (two steps forward, one step back happens and isn't anything to worry about), you sensibly revised your goals to what you could get done that day and didn't force any issues, and your horse doesn't seem unhappy. That's a good day in my book! And you and Panama look great together!

At June 29, 2009 at 6:32 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

NM -

Oh yes, I thought of you when I was trying to load Panama in the trailer despite the neighbor's activities, and actually I thought of you again when I wrote that sentence!

Kate -

Thanks for the encouragement. You're right, it wasn't a terrible session by any means, but it was still so disappointing. I had such high hopes when we went out there!

At June 29, 2009 at 6:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes it's our own expectations that defeat us - I've always been one of those perfectionist types myself but I'm trying to change! I try now to start out with goals - to get x done - but understand that sometimes I have to modify them due to circumstances or due to my or the horse's situation. One of my favorite Mark Rashid quotes is "ride the horse you have today" - that is, not the one you expected to have!


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