So, I have lots to update on, but instead I’m going to stick with what’s grating on my mind. I’ll get to the other, more fun, stuff another day.
Since my quite spectacular crash off of Batty a few weeks a go, I’ve sort of been questioning a lot of things. Am I asking him to do stuff he can’t do? Am I asking him to do stuff he doesn’t want to do? Am I causing all sorts of problems? Am I causing all of our stopping issues? Is it physical? Is it mental? Is it me? Is it him? Can a pro fix this? What is this? Am I going to get hurt fixing whatever this turns out to be?
So here is the thing about Batty and falls and all of that. Fall happen. I don’t actually care about falling. They come with riding and while we try to avoid them and minimize the risk, the only way to avoid them completely is not to ride. I am not willing to do that. So, it comes down to calculated risks. But, the other side of the coin is Batty has NEVER been consistent over fences. I remember when I first rode him as a green broke 5/6 year old (who was actually we later learned a green broke 2 year old) 12+ years ago wiggling and zooming to jumps and slamming on the breaks, ducking out his hind end… He eventually got more consistent, especially over plain jane crossrails and verticals. But, he’s never been confident or consistent over any jump with build up or anything solid underneath. This horse used to slam on the breaks at a ground pole… So, it should surprise me that we have issues…
Then there is me. Without going into issues, I’m at the point in my life where i need to minimize the risks. I need to avoid too many falls and concussions. I need to avoid head injuries and more concussions. I have too many issues with migraines (and right now am just in a holding pattern until I can get into see neuro in November, but that’s a whole other story). So, this brings me to this week’s lesson…
My trainer has offered me to get on Batty and school him over jumps and I finally took her up on the offer. So, after warming him up on the flat, she got on him to basically see who was the issue. Me or him (I’m quick to always blame myself even though deep down I know the issues I rooted well beyond me). With a lot of the same struggle I have, she schooled him over and over 3 jumps until he was consistent and confident over all 3, licking and chewing. Then I got on and did the same (I was fine for 1 and 2, struggle for 3, but, that was me). We got through it and then ultimately had a talk.
Trainer basically said it’s amazing I haven’t come off more than I have because when he stops it’s not a normal stopper motion. He swings out his hind end and it comes out of no where. He doesn’t look at the jump, doesn’t drop his head, and doesn’t give warning (well, when we stopped at jump 3, he warned me as we ran out of gas 4 strides out, but that’s different). He’s never going to be consistent. If we jump him daily, he’ll likely get better (aka memorize these jumps), but the second something changes — be it the ring, a jump, etc.–we will be starting over from scratch. So, the advice? We stop trying to jump him. He’s sound. Physically he can do it and more and he can do it easily, but it’s just not for him.
So Saturday we went on a trail ride and soon we’ll start looking for paper chases and stuff like that. Just need to find people to do stuff like this with. We’ll still try and take a lesson here and there to keep up with our flat work, but no more solid ‘hunter’ jumps. That’s just not him. But give him a field to gallop through and he’s a happy horse… Regardless, he’s with me for life.
So, for the time being, I’m going to take lessons on one of her lesson horses who can pack me around over 2’6″ for the winter and reassess in the spring. We’ll see where I am financially in March. If I have the funds, I might see about putting Subi in training for a month to see what I have. My mom asked right away about Subi but it’s almost October… Why get him in shape just to give him the winter off in 2 months? I know I don’t have the time to commit to what he needs in the winter but I can probably do enough for spring/summer/fall. So, we’ll see. I’m hoping my family will help me out with training. The downside of all of this is, right now he is sound, but he’s 20 in January. Will he be sound back in work? I’m only willing to do so much maintenance to keep him comfortable when I know he’s comfortable retired. So, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Hopefully we’ll know what he have pretty quickly and can back out of training if he can’t hold up and I’m happy popping over 2′-2’3″ if that’s all he can do and skipping changes if it keeps him sounder. Hopefully by the spring I’ll be healthier too.
Sorry to hear this but also think it’s awesome that you’re making these choices in the best interest of the horses. Fall is the perfect season for lots of trail rides and hunter paces and paper chases –
I’m sure Batt will love it all! And fingers crossed Subi comes out swinging next spring!
Thanks! I know it’s for the best but it’s still a hard choice. But he’s had issues since day one so I shouldn’t be surprised… There’s so much he likes so why fight it?Now I just need to find people to do these hunter paces/trail rides/etc. with! Darn people around me who don’t leave the ring or haul out!
Such a soft spot for a chromy chestnut! 🙂 Hope you get to have fun jumping a horse with more experience around and start back in the spring with a bang!
They’re the best! I think it’s just best not to force the jumping issue with this guy (full training wouldn’t fix his issues) and we’ll see if I un-retire my other guy in the spring.
Fall is a great time to ride out on the trails for sure. I’ve been having a lot of conversations with myself about what to do with my horses and so I totally hear you, sounds like you have his best interests at heart 🙂