Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Baby Boomer Dreams - Dandy's Story - The Warm Up cont.

Part 1

I remember my feelings as I went back to the barn and put my Arabian horse away for the night. Besides already feeling off balance because I was stabled in an awkward situation and my horse had been so sick, I was now looking squarely into the face of the possibility that I really didn't belong there at all.

My horse going around the warm-up with his head upside down and wanting to run off looked more like those unprepared people and horses at our very first schooling show than like a team who had qualified for nationals. The self doubt clearly had me by the throat. All of my insecurities about my riding let alone my training ability engulfed me and swallowed me whole like I was some kind of oyster to be consumed with one gulp.

I was a wreck and I was alone. There was no one there I felt like I could talk this through with or even get a tiny iota of support from. I was totally on my own and I felt like I was drowning.

I remember that I reluctantly called home. Knowing that my family had made the sacrifice to get me here in the first place didn't make it much easier to admit I was in over my head. Dave isn't really into the horses like I am. He knows little if anything about riding. I wasn't expecting him to be able to say anything to help me resolve this problem. I just felt the need to confess my family put their faith in me and I didn't deserve it.

Most of my life I have hidden my feelings from all but a very few insiders. Even when I learned it was supposed to be ok to cry, I hadn't learned to open up that far. I was guarded against crying in public or in private, yet I remember choking back the tears as I spoke to Dave. This trip to nationals had been such a big part of my dream, I was feeling the crushing weight of it falling down around me. It was more than I could bare.

I remember Dave actually listened intently. Listening at all isn't really one of his strong suits but he could tell from the pain in my voice that he really needed to be listening this time. As I laid out my story for him, I heard him take a depth breath and then sigh as he said: "MiKael, I have faith in you. I know that whatever this problem is you will figure it out and fix it. "

As the words spilled from his lips, I heard John Lyons in my head telling me to fix a problem you must first get to the root of it. The light bulb went on and I realized the obvious, Dandy was going through the bit. I knew how to fix this, I had fixed it before. I wasn't in over my head after all. I had the tools to get me and my horse back on track. AND for one of the few times in our lives, Dave had had the answer. I will never forget the support my non-horsey husband dispensed on that day.

I remember I actually slept pretty well that night. I knew exactly what I was going to do to deal with this problem. I had seen a round pen up on a section of the race track. There was plenty of commotion up there to push Dandy's buttons.

I was going to take him into that round pen and tie him around letting the horse deal with himself and his issues running through the bit. If there wasn't enough pressure to duplicate the pressure the horse was feeling in the warm-up, I would add enough pressure to cause his response. Dandy was going to get a refresher course in respecting the barrier.

In the morning I let the horse have his breakfast before I took him off to the round pen. I remember thinking he must be eating in slow motion. He must have been reading my mind that something was about to happen because he really took his sweet time savoring every bite of that food.

Eventually I got impatient and grabbed the horse. His breakfast was only half finished when I tacked him up and headed off to the round pen. There we had to wait again. There was what seemed like a huge line (maybe 3 or 4) when I had something I so badly needed to get resolved. I took my lesson in patience like a big girl and watched as others used the round pen to let their horses play while in my head I played over what I was going to do.

Out on the track were lots of people schooling horses. You would have thought with that commotion Dandy would have a chance to get comfortable with some of it. But he didn't seem bothered by any of it without me on his back. I was beginning to wonder if this plan of mine was going to work.

Finally we got our chance at the round pen. The minute I drew the rein through the ring on my saddle to tie the horse around Dandy braced against the bit. I got the rein tied off quickly and got myself out of the way as my horse fought with himself.

I didn't need to apply any pressure, the horse had enough on his own. Dandy did not want to give to the pressure of the bit at all. He fought it shaking his head and trying to run off. The more he fought it, the more problems he cause himself. The horse was beginning to lather and it hadn't even been five minutes.

Not wanting the horse to get stiff and sore, I told him whoa and went up to change sides. I made sure before I released him that he gave to the pressure of the bit by wrapping by arm and hand around his head bending him into a release of pressure on the bit. Using the other hand as I held that release, I pulled my slip knots of the holding rein . I wanted it clear in his mind what the solution was. Get soft and round and your worries are over.

Changing directions we started all over again. The horse immediately braced against the bit. I had to hold his head in that soft position to even get him tied around at all. It was a good thing I had this exercise down and wasn't fumbling with my fingers. There could have been a wreck as the horse tried to figure out how to avoid getting tied this way.

Eventually I ended up with a horse that was giving to pressure. He was a foamy sweaty mess but he was contrite and submissive. Despite all the commotion on the track Dandy was once again respecting the barrier of the bit. I was ready to try the warm-up arena once again.

I took the horse back to the barn and untacked him. I wanted to hose the horse off and give him a break before we hit the warm up. It was nearly time for the vet to be coming back to check his progress and give him the scheduled shot. Allowing the horse to finish up his breakfast and take a break would be good before we tried the riding thing again. This time I would use the western saddle, just in case this bit-bracing monster raised it's ugly head again.

To be continued............

The First Class

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  1. Sometimes when we get upset, frustrated, and out of our comfort zone, we have to remember the skills we already have in our back pocket, waiting to be used! Glad your husband could help you stay grounded and realize you already had the potential solution. I can't wait to hear how the warm-up goes!! I've said it before, but Dandy is SO gorgeous!

  2. I love how Dave listened and gave you the perfect response so that things go moving again!

  3. Those look like pink booties. I wonder if that color is right for this horse? LOL nice photo.

  4. Ya know, we hve people in our lives for an amazing amount of reasons. Your Dave is there for many, but wow- what a perfect buffer for you! His beliefe in you is fantastic, and I am SO glad he was there for you!!!

    Cant wait to read more, as always!! hehe You have such a knack for leaving us hanging MiKael... Dont know if you do this on purpose or not, but you really are terrific at it. (Hey- if you get bored with writing horse stuff, I bet you could do soap operas pretty well too! ;) )

  5. I'm rivited now. I'm dying to how it all went!

  6. It's amazing how those who truly know us know just when to say the right thing. I am anxious as always to read the next installment.

  7. Your husband sounds really sweet :)

    I am so curious about what will happen in this story! It sounds like things are taking a turn for the better, though.

    And, seriously, I agree with everyone before who has said that you should write a book. I would be first in line to buy it!

  8. browneyed cowgirls, Ya, I'm with you, I was so relieved to have a direction to go. I still can't believe that Dave is the one who provided it however. lol

    pony girl, I think it was the combination of events that had me rattled. I was really relieved to know I had the answer all along.

    As for Dandy, I'll let him know he has a fan. He really is a people horse and appreciates "his following."

    billie, he was right on, that's for sure. Whodda thunk it? lol not me, I can tell you.

    abraham, actually they are burgandy but faded some with use. They are supposed to be protection for his legs. It's probably a good thing that his kid is not younger or they just might be pink! lol

    mrs mom, he sure knew the right thing to say that day, that's for sure.

    I don't think they would believe what I write for soap operas. They would think it was too much! lol We certainly have had our share with this horse, but then that's why he has taught me so much.

    kathy c, yes, I'm still amazed that Dave knew just the right thing to say. He's not always so successful when it comes to the horses, but he sure pulled it out that day.

    haffiegirl, thanks for the vote of confidence on a book. I may just get there one day.

  9. Dave sure must know you and knew just what to say to get you thinking and realizing you knew what to do already.

  10. Swallowed like an oyster...I like that metaphor and can so completely relate! That's about how I feel so much of the time these days, right down to the non-horsey husband. Glad Dave came up with the right words to get you on track!

  11. hehehe! (wait...what is that I hear? The Rocky Theme Song???) As MiKael decides to cowgirl up and get back in the game!!! You Go Girl!!!
    psst: Dandy is quite...DANDY!!!