Things with H’Appy haven’t been, well… happy. In fact I broke down and told him I hated him Sunday. Not my best moment and I’m not proud, but this is reality and not some horse fairy tale. I remember hating Gem for a long time in the beginning too.
What is a shame is that the horse I brought home and rode for 3 weeks was lovable. And fun. And willing. And safe. And sane.
If that damn hoof wouldn’t have ripped off he wouldn’t have been off for six months and I wouldn’t be here now.
But it did. And I am. And I need to figure out a path forward that leads to a resolution that makes us both happy be that a workable partnership or a new home for him and a new horse for me. Right now I actually don’t care which way this story ends as long as it does soon because honestly since bringing him home all I’ve done is burn money with absolutely nothing to show for it.
A lot has been against us. His lameness to start. Then non stop rain. Now add saddle fit issues to the heap with continued non stop rain and well it hasn’t been conducive for consistency. He is fat, out of shape and mentally in a place where he is a toddler saying “I don’t wanna” while he throws down a major temper tantrum.
The thing is that it scares me and he knows it so he pulls his crap more and more with the hopes it will get him out of work. He isn’t violent and he certainly isn’t in any pain. He just plain doesn’t want to and my lady balls aren’t currently big enough after six months out of the tack myself to make him.
The last good ride I had with him was a magical night under the arena lights on November 6th – nearly a month ago. He was light, responsive to my seat and relaxed. I felt invincible on him that night. It was amazing and I fell on his neck in a heap of giggles at the end.
Then the lesson from Hades occurred on the 9th and every single ride thereafter has been a quick saddle test ride where I’m not really schooling him on anything or riding him out because that’s not what the fitter is there for.
So I’m not surprised that he has no interest in working. I don’t fully blame him. It’s why he hasn’t been listed as a project for a massive loss of money already. Someone recently said “never quit on a bad day” and it is the motto I’ve chosen to live by with him. If we have a ride like on the 6th and I’m still done? Ok fine. Sell him and move on.
Sunday it was finally done raining and while the ground is disgustingly squishy and my arena is half under water, I wanted to try the saddles and ride. He was a massive pain from the get go. I worked with him in the cross ties until he finally chilled out and then he amped back up in the arena.
He wouldn’t even stand still for me to mount and began his head shaking popping up crap at the block. That earned him time on the longe line and big boy let his energy out.
What I found impressive, and what keeps me holding out hope for us, is that even though all he wanted to do was gallop around, fart and kick up his heels as soon as I asked him to trot he did. He kept an ear on me and I could tell he was trying but could barely contain himself.
I worked him with a lot of transitions both directions until he was sweaty and that crazy glint was out of his eye and then I mounted. He still felt like a powder keg under me and the saddle was slipping all over the place so I only asked for a bit of a walk and then halted to get off. I knew if I asked for a trot he would fling around and tranter instead and there was no way I was riding that out in the County.
After I finished I debated pushing my luck in the Bates, but knowing it would have the tendency to slide forward (much like my Thorowgood which has a point billet and still does it) didn’t make it look too appealing.
Things aren’t all lost yet though. I still believe that once back in actual work he will settle to being the horse I brought home. He has so many good qualities that I love: he is brave and curious in new situations, he has yet to spook at anything, he goes alone on trail or leads in a group, he has never refused or run out of a jump even with me clinging like a monkey to his back, he does water (I never would have ridden Gem even on her best day in a flooded arena), and when in work he goes in a lovely natural rhythm that makes things easy. He just needs to get over himself a bit.
He is leaving me on December 14th for boot camp. We are starting with two weeks and will go up to a month depending. I’m hoping two weeks will be enough. Well, my pocket book is hoping two weeks will be enough. I’m not looking for him to learn anything specific. This isn’t a training camp for jumping more technical courses, or adding flying changes or the half pass. I just need him ridden through this transition back to work by someone who won’t back down or escalate it. He has the basic training that I need already in there under all that bullying attitude.
It will be an hour from me which isn’t preferable but the lady is very good, highly recommended and super nice. I like her way of teaching and training a lot. I’ll get one lesson a week while he is there too. My biggest fear with this is that he will be great for her since she won’t let him bully her but will come home and return to his ways here with me. We will see.
After his boot camp one of two things will happen. He will either be great for me, or at least good enough, and then I can join up with the local trainer I want to use and get back to three day a week rides and twice monthly lessons.
Or he will flunk out of camp/ come home and degrade back to his current behavior which will tell me that our relationship isn’t going to work and he will be listed for sale. At least then I can say that he has had a professional refresher and hope he would sell easier. This is the worst time of year to sell since everyone is, but such is life.
Of course, this depends on him having a saddle that fits so come hell or high water I’m buying a saddle before then. This boot camp must happen and it must happen before I sink too much more money into him. I look back on pictures from the summer when he was rideable and I wonder. He was so good before all this time off. Not perfect but he was fun, safe and sane. Heck, I wouldn’t be thrilled to pull Gem out right now after her 8 months of retirement and try to actually ride her and that is with a decade of history with her and a huge amount of trust banked up. Where would we be if I could have ridden all summer? I’ll never know.
Either way this plays out it is going to be an interesting December and a life lesson learned.