Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thinking The Thinks, Part II

A little more introspection tonight, and I've come to realize a few things. Mainly, my biggest problem in ALL of this nonsense is just... ME. I'm the real issue here. And now I need to figure out what to do about that.

This post is probably going to be horribly depressing and boring, and also largely about me and not horses, so skip over it if that's not your thing.

I'm a little upset to see that I recognize this kind of strange state I'm in, when I really clear away the excess and take a good hard look at it. I was 16 when 9/11 happened, and I had such horrible PTSD from that experience that I spent a few years in a terrifying spiral - honestly it's a miracle I'm still here, I tried to kill myself so many times that statistically I should have succeeded at least one of those times! 
I got better eventually. I'm not really sure what fixed it, god knows it wasn't all of the therapies and doctors and hospitalizations that did it. Mostly I think the horses did all of the heavy lifting for me emotionally, and eventually I just sort of got better. And I was good for a very long time.

When Gogo died, everything changed again. Everything that I thought I knew - every pattern in my existence - completely fell apart, and I was cast out into the strange vast unknown, into a world I didn't understand and had no idea how to navigate through without my best friend there beside me. And I'm still, 2.5 years later, just not right. I'm not a fighter anymore, I'm a complete defeatist. I throw my hands up after every mildly bad ride and say, "she hates to do XYZ thing, I don't want to do this anymore, I can't do this!" I don't strategize and mull things over and learn better ways and tackle things again tomorrow, I just give up. I throw myself randomly at other sports and try to see if things will stick, but they never really do. I eat garbage food and sit idly on the couch for hours, because I just don't care. I gained probably almost 20lbs (I'm not fat but I'm definitely not the muscular, fit, trim little bird that I used to be). I'm stagnant and lifeless a lot of the time. I panic about trying to get back into the sport that Gogo and I once loved so much, largely in part because of the success she and I had together, and how I'm so terrified that it will have lost all the magic for me now. I can't even do a 20m circle without feeling defeated some days, or even trot a crossrail sometimes. More days than not, I find myself wondering why the hell I'm even on this planet, and what the point of it all is.

I'm not anywhere near as bad as I was when 9/11 happened, thank god, but it's a very similar state of being lost in this shocky kind of state following a really tragic event. I feel like I've completely lost everything that I once knew about myself, and now I still have no idea who the hell I am, where I'm going, or what I'm doing here and why.

How do you get your motivation back when you don't see a point to anything? It's not a very fun place to be in. And I don't have an answer for it really.

The sole consolation here is that I know a lot of you know largely what I am going through - you've lost heart horses too, and have new horses who you love and adore, but you just kind of feel like you're floundering and not picking up where you thought you were going to. I know you know how I feel, and I know how you feel in turn. And it sucks. It sucks a lot.

The good thing about all of this is that I know full well that I can't sit around and say, "oh well, O just hates to do dressage, or she has bad jumping form, or her tummy is going to be too sensitive for endurance, or she's too slow for barrels," etc etc, all the things I tell myself after a terrible ride... those are all excuse that *I* make in order to be LAZY. I am just giving MYSELF a reason to mope around at home when I say those things. I can't blame her hotness, or her past experiences, or anything else, because she is a product of her environment and training, and that means that I haven't been giving her the kind of rides she really needs to improve. This is a talented, fun, wild little mare, and if I work hard enough I know I can get there with her. But I have to look myself in the face and ask the hard questions of what I am going to do about this weird funk that I am in. How exactly am I planning to get out of this, what steps do I need to take.... how do I get my listing ship back upright before it sinks?

It's a weighty kind of thing to think about.

But, it is reassuring to understand, "it's not the horse, it's me."

 Dressage *is* for every horse. Every horse can do dressage. And every reasonably sound horse should do it. It may not competition-worthy dressage, but all basic dressage is is making a horse supple, responsive, and able to carry itself lightly and easily through its work. It doesn't have to be in a dressage saddle, or in a snaffle, or in an arena. Dressage can be in jeans and a barrel saddle and a hackamore and out on the trail - and we do that often! And that to me is quite satisfying, because I feel like we can really get some quality work in that way.

One thing is for sure though. I recognize this pattern in myself and I will not fall down the slippery slope again. I know where it leads. I'm not doing it again. I'm getting out of this funk before I slip any deeper into it.

The question really is, where do I begin...

By the way, I found some more pictures of the hunt, and O being of course perfect:

Can you find us in these shots? Look hard, we're in all of them!
And yes, that is a barrel horse in a western saddle with his owner in jeans and a sweatshirt, and a rope horse in a rope saddle. Because that's how we do in Texas.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Thinking The Thoughts

 I know I've gone over this topic ad nauseum, but I still need more time to put it on paper and try and wrap my head around it. What am I, and what is O, and what are we, and what are we doing, and what are we going to be doing in the future?

I know what I need to help me redefine myself. I need some goals. I feel adrift in the ocean and unless I know which way to point the boat, I'm just going to be floating out here forever and I'm never going to see that island on the horizon that needs to be reached.

I've had a lot of time lately to think about All The Thinks, and namely they are all about what my specific long-term goals are for this mare. I have still been struggling a lot as of late with the neverending identity crisis I am going through (am I an eventer? What am I? Who am I? WHAT IS LIFE ALL ABOUT) and I am still trying to squirm my way out from under the Eventer label that I can't quite seem to let go of. I don't know what I am if I am not an eventer... until now I have never known how to do anything except event, really. I've never wanted to do anything except event until now. If it wasn't for O not really wanting to *be* an eventer, I think I'd still be carrying on eventing without a hitch. And if I really think long and hard about it, if O's riding career were to end anytime soon, I can't see myself continuing on in any one of these chosen new sports that I have been dabbling in. I'm not going to go out and buy a barrel horse after this, or an Arab for endurance, or something like that. You know? I think I would go right back to eventing if I could, although some days I can't stand the idea of ever doing it again. I don't know.

Basically it boils down to whether or not I am more vested in my horse or in my chosen sport. Plenty of people have told me to just get rid of O, to find a horse more mentally suited to the sport, and I do get where they are coming from. But when it comes down to it, I'd rather have this mare over any other... I care about her way more than I do eventing. For whatever reason she came into my life, she's here to stay.

In short, this journey is exclusively about this horse and I, and what all we can achieve on this planet with the time that we have together.

 And really, if all of the stars stay aligned and we both stay sound and happy, I think we can achieve quite a lot. I really do.

(Further introspection: it kind of feels completely right to have a horse with no particular label. I'm the ultimate 'so, what are you?' label-less kind of person, as much as I had no intention of being this way. I *want* a label, labels are comfortable, labels are relateable. I spent a lot of my youth floundering around trying to assign labels to myself, but nothing really ever stuck and I never was at home with anything really. Even now, into adulthood, I don't have any good terms to assign to myself, and I feel naked a lot of the time. I'm not a lesbian, I'm not straight, I'm not bi, I'm just kind of into transguys, and girls... what does that make me? Dunno, there's not a label for that. I'm into performance barefoot horses, but also into synthetics, and sometimes not even adverse to steel... what does that make me? Not really a trimmer, not a farrier... there's not a label for that either. Queer folks don't welcome me, farriers don't welcome me, trimmers don't welcome me. Once Texans find out I am not into Jesus and don't want a gun in every room of my house, they don't welcome me either. And on the horsey front, endurance people want nothing to do with me, barrel racers keep asking "so, you ride English usually I assume?", h/j folks look at me like I just escaped from XC/a zoo... and so on. You get the picture. We just don't fit in anywhere.)

Here we go with the break down... breaking things down into bite-sized chunks is kind of my specialty... or else I think I'd choke on it all.

So, we've already established that with A Horse That Does Everything, you should Do Everything, right? I love having a horse that I can literally put on whatever tack I feel like putting on and going and doing whatever I feel like doing that day. That is really awesome. And looking back where she was a year ago - unrideable and borderline dangerous - we have REALLY come far.

BUT, for the sake of progress, for the sake of bettering myself and bettering us as a team, I need some overarching long-term types of goals to aim for. If I don't have some real, concrete goals, I flounder. I've always operated on goals, and now I don't have any, simply because I just don't know what I want to be doing. This leads to a lot of tire spinning... a lot of me feeling like I am wasting time and not getting anywhere at all.

Things I want to do with this mare: Endurance, barrels, jumpers, foxhunting, maybe some team penning, some poles and some breakaway roping. Maybe some combined driving, some eventing, some dressage, if we ever really get to that. Maybe anything else that looks interesting and we decide to try (hunter paces, polocrosse, hell whatever we want really.... this horse can do it!) 

Things I want to specifically focus on: jumpers, barrels, endurance. (Which is interesting, because those are all disciplines that I once would have written off as some combo of stupid, abusive, and pointless. Different times, different times.) Those are things I think she could particularly be good at. While it is fun to play around and do All The Things... it's really fun to do Some Of The Things and excel at them. Or at least, work very hard and better better at them. You know?

I need to come up with some goals (i.e. what do we want to accomplish long-term within each sport, and why). This is going to take some more introspection.

 I'll think on that some more.

Pretty thing isn't she! A cloudy grey day doesn't keep a muscular little mare down... days without sun are annoying to me for multiple reasons, one of which being that the sun brings out her super glossy coat and the yucky grey clouds hide the shine.

But, she's still gorgeous.

Pmare is looking much better too... varying in degrees of soundness, but her weight has improved. She is just as much of a crotchety old goob as always... I lucked out catching both her and one of the kittens making goofy faces at the same time:

 I'd really like to get her back under saddle and going on short trail rides, but she's just not sound enough for that right now. Her stint away from home really worsened her ringbone... if she hasn't been moving around before I go to pick her feet, she has trouble picking up all four legs. Once she gets moving, everything warms up and she does better, but she still has quite a lot of pain in her left stifle and that is definitely worsened with work. She's quite fine and healthy for a pasture pet, and gets around great, but probably isn't a candidate for much more than that at this point. Poor old gal.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

In Which Andrea Decides Not To Drink For Awhile

This story is partly about the amazing, incredible, mind-blowing generosity of total strangers, and the incredible things that can happen when you least expect them.

And, partly about being drunk.

A week ago, I got an email in from blog reader Meghan, who had read my laments about not having a proper endurance saddle and not being able to afford one. I'm about ready to make the leap to 50s, but I had no intention of doing so in the big clunky barrel saddle if I didn't have to... but my budget is shoestring at best. There is just no possible way at the moment that I can afford to buy a saddle, ANY saddle, even the crappiest ones out there.
So she told me she'd send me her Stonewall. Yes, her Stonewall... the very kind of saddle I've been drooling over for years, even back when I had Gogo and was oogling at them over at The Barb Wire. That was at LEAST six years ago, WAY before I ever considered endurance at all. She told me she'd send it to me as a pay-it-forward.... try it out, keep it if it works, if it doesn't work, then pay-it-forward to someone else.

To say I am completely and utterly overwhelmed by this kind of selfless generosity is an understatement. I don't even have the words to describe what I am feeling right now. It's overwhelming. Completely overwhelming. And totally amazing.

Thank you Meghan. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart. Truly, thank you.

It might not work out (I DESPERATELY hope it does), so I can't get my hopes up *too* high until I set it on my horse and get some rides in it.... but that didn't stop me from celebrating its imminent arrival.

With some wine.

Ok, maybe a lot of wine.

Hey, that's what I do.

A group of my local endurance friends was bantering on about leaving this weekend for Post Oak, which is a local ride that I had originally been planning on attending as our last 25 before our first 50. I recently had an extremely disastrous conditioning ride in my dressage saddle, in which a stirrup leather rubbed a hole right through one of my calves (why was I not wearing my tall boots? What was I thinking?? Wine??), and since the Stonewall was coming anyway, I opted to give myself some time to stop bleeding on my tack and let the huge wound heal. I told them good luck, and that I wasn't going to be there, but that I would see them at Bluebonnet (which is the next one).

"What?? Why!! Noooooooo!!" was the general consensus. "Come ride with us!! You have to!!"

"No," I told them, "the Stonewall is coming and I want to get some rides in that first!"

"Oh come on," they said. "Come with us! Ride in the Stonewall! You'll be fine! Just bring your other saddle if it doesn't work out!"

The wine said this was a Great Idea. Totally, I'll just bring my other saddle, just in case!

"Come do the 50 with us!" they said. "We're doing a slow one on unseasoned horses! We'll take care of you! Ride one saddle on the first loop, and the other on the second! You'll be fine!"

The wine said, that is such a Great Idea! They'll take care of you! You'll be fine!

I burbled out yes, that I was totally game for that, and that I would go. In a saddle I had never ridden in. I needed to find some britches and boots for that, so probably wearing clothes I hadn't ever worn before long distance. With a huge bleeding saddle sore on my leg. 

What could possibly go wrong? I'll be fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnneeee!

My friend The Wine high-fived me and told me to go fetch another glass to celebrate. Liquid courage, my friend, you need that!

Obviously, that was not actually a good idea at all. Once I sobered up, I passed my story around, kind of staring at the idea blearily and wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into. Thankfully, Aurora was the one to finally go, "are you stupid??" You're going to go to your first 50. In a saddle you've never sat in. Wearing clothes you've never worn before. And you're trailering in the morning of. The hell are you thinking!?

Oh. Hmm. Without my friend The Wine telling me what a wise and grand decision maker I am, it occurred to me that maybe this wasn't such a fantastic idea after all.

Maybe it's time to take a break from my relationship with The Wine. It's not you Wine, it's me. Ok, no, it's you.

(No redheaded monsters were harmed in the making and unmaking of this bad decision. Don't worry, I would have come to my senses at some point and not actually done it!)

The Stonewall goes for a test ride tomorrow.... stay tuned for that!!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Great EasyShoe Fail

If there is one thing I know in this world, it is that O is the most frustrating horse on the planet when it comes to footwear.

Her feet are SO much better than they were when I first got her. They used to be paper thin, completely flat, and had her totally crippled even just on surfaces like pavement. Now, a year later, she is SO much better, but our terrain is still covered in rocks. Her living area and our riding areas are full of rocks. Big rocks, little rocks. Gravel, boulders. Rocks. 
So we need some help.

The problem is threefold: 
1) She has very crooked legs/feet and is toed in
2) She is a short-backed big mover, with some side to side fling of her legs, and is full of random erratic movement
3) She is made of paper and everything in the world rubs her, even just saddle pads and girths on everyday rides

All models of Easyboots rub her raw, and she rips them off. Renegades don't fit due to her crooked feet, and they spin and come off. Cavallos stay on, but rub her until she bleeds no matter how broken in (have had some success with Elastikon tape for dry, short rides). Every single model of synthetic glue-on that I've tried, she has stepped on and ripped off within a day. EVERY model, even just a rim of Superfast she ripped off. She doesn't step on herself until you add just that tiny little bit of extra weight on the foot, and then you can hear her vigorously clack-clacking along on every ride. (She does that in boots too, but not bare.) Every ride always ends up being one ride, because they always get ripped off anyway. I'm 100% sure she'd rip off steel too, if I chose to go that route, and god knows then she would take half her foot off along with it.

I've had my eye on the EasyShoe ever since it was announced last year. I've been eagerly awaiting it's arrival, and in February I pre-ordered a few to try. I made the discovery that she had sized out of the size she used to wear (which is good!), so I ordered the next size up and tried again.

And this time, I was determined NOT to let her get the best of these extremely pricey bad boys. They were gonna STAY damnit. They were gonna stay.

I glued them on with meticulous prep. I put a layer of casting material over the finished product. And then I added bell boots. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that would be called Overkill. That was me desperately going "stay. Please stay. Damnit, you shall stay. You have GOT to stay."

Surely, she can't rip off a well-glued shoe with a cast AND bell boots, right?

She looked ridiculous, but I was not taking ANY chances that these bad boys were coming off ANY time soon.

I applied them yesterday morning. 
I rode today. 
You want to know how long they lasted?

8 miles.


8 miles.

EIGHT STUPID SLOW MILES, and she had ripped off both casts, torn a bell boot, and then ripped an EasyShoe off. I felt her snag up on it (we were seriously just slowly trotting along), and then a few strides later I saw the dental impression material go flying off, so I had to turn around and go find the glue. I found some strewn bits of cast as well... looks like she systematically stepped on it enough times to slowly shred it over the course of eight miles.

I hope you are proud of yourself.

"Oh, I am."

She's an efficient mover when she is bare - she never hits herself, catches herself, or does anything questionable when she is totally bare. (Most rides or workouts, I don't bother putting polos/bells/brushing boots/whatever on her, because she doesn't need them.) And it doesn't matter if I push her hind toes to the absolute limit of how far back they can go either, as soon as I put something on her fronts she is stepping on it.

But when your ho-hum not-forward trot looks like this....

.... you're pushing it to the limit when you start to add some more impulsion. The be-bopping slow trot is already cutting it prettttttttttttty darn close to the interference level.

Mares. Back to the drawing board, again, for the millionth time.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

End of March Analysis; April Goals! (Sort of.)

Is it really the end of March already?? Seriously, the older I get, the faster time goes. Wasn't it just Christmas?

March was an interesting month, and it went pretty well all things considered. I had some triumphs and some fails, some deep thoughts and some interesting introspection. And I celebrated my birthday AND celebrated having this crazy little red horse in my life for a whole year now!


O-Ren March Goals:
1) Dressage work - back to walk-trot, and add in canter gradually! Get to it!! High priority!!
We didn't do *nearly* as much dressage work as I had wanted to, but near the end of the month we buckled down and got to it. I've gotten some very nice canterwork in - some of the best we've had - but it has been at the expense of the trotwork. If we don't canter EVER, then we can do trotwork. But if we canter at all, any day of the week, all she wants to do is canter during everything that we do. It's very, very hard. She wants to run hard, and fast, and all day long... or she wants to mosey on a long rein at the walk. She doesn't have much in-between and that makes things very difficult. It is hard to make something so frustrating (for both of us) a high priority.

2) Attend one or two more open XC schooling days! Spend time as well putting cavalleti/jump work in on the calendar as the canter improves!
This did not go according to plan at all - one schooling got totally rained out, I opted to go foxhunting instead of go to the second schooling (which I don't regret one bit), and the third schooling got moved to next month. Oh well, that's how it goes!

3) Install Easyshoes and see how they go! 
Another fail - I went to install and discovered that she had sized up since I last measured her (which is great! But also, a pain in the butt.) I just reordered them in the next size up, so we'll see how it goes when they get here. They are freaking expensive.... I'm sure EasyCare will be rolling in the dough after the preliminary rush to get them.

4) Consider 'what else' we want to try and figure out how to fit it into the schedule - keep doing endurance? Try roping? Barrels? Driving?
 We've been doing a little bit of everything as of late! I did rope desensitization with her this month as well as practiced on the dummy myself, did some more work on the barrels (and ran her, and won a check in the 4D!), and did more endurance type conditioning. There were no locally close endurance rides this month, so I didn't go to any, but there are some April ones upcoming. At this point, I think we need to be done with LDs, they're not doing either of us any favors. We'll be aiming at 50s - SLOW 50s - next. I have no interest in speeding through 50s!
5) Look at show/ride schedule - what will we be doing in the next few months?
Well, looked it over, got ideas, scrapped the ideas, looked more ideas over, and scrapped those ideas too. I'd say this goal didn't exactly get accomplished!


O-Ren April Goals:
1) BAH. Give me a few days to think about this. I keep changing my mind on all of my goals and can't come up with a solid set of them.


I know, I know, that was extremely anticlimactic. But I keep changing my mind over and over on what I *really* want to do with her. I want to event! Well, no I don't, too much money and dressage is a mental challenge. I want to do endurance and get to Tevis one day! Well, how am I supposed to make this horse a real endurance horse when she is such a spoiled picky eater and drinker? (Good eater, who is on every ulcer preventative that I can think of... but if there is stuff to look at, she'd rather look at things than eat. She doesn't eat on the trailer, EVER, and if the hay in front of her isn't perfectly to her liking, forget it, she looks at you and talks to you like she is starving but she won't eat it. I feel like endurance horses need to be garbage disposals, and she's just not. About the only thing I can solidly think of having her do long term that she'll be good at is run barrels, and I kind of feel like any idiot monkey with a hot horse can run barrels. It doesn't feel like it takes any particularly strong skill set to do it, which is why you see so many goobers doing it I suppose. It doesn't give me that "yeah, we can do this complicated thing because we are awesome!" kind of feeling.

She will probably be pretty good at it though, admittedly, once she gets faster and tighter:

 She is SO BEEF. It's almost all muscle, and she has short thin little legs.... it makes her look a bit like a pork roast up on toothpicks. Seriously though, she looks like one of those old school bulldogging type QHs - even though she's a warmblood! The mohawk is the cherry on top... it makes her neck look EXTRA freakishly huge. Most of this is sprinting type muscle... we've been doing lots of short burst of speed lately, just to give her brain a break. I clocked her top speed at 38.5mph the other day... yes, 38.5mph. THAT IS SERIOUSLY FAST.

 I have lots to write about, but am tired and feeling a little funky today. Lots of things to think about though, lots of things indeed.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy Gotcha Day!

Thanks to everybody who offered encouragement about our super crap dressage. You inspired me so much that I got out and did another dressage ride today, and am thankful to report that I had a WAY better ride today. Also, to clarify about the "arena" - it's not actual an arena per se, it's just a section of our big field that is flat and has fence on 3 sides (a big square). I ride out there for the flatness and the fenceline, but even though it is an actual field, it may as well be an arena in her mind, simply due to the fact that she has seen it a million times and it is now very boring. Same old things every day = very boring for an active mind like hers.

 This is a short entry, since it is getting late and my sleepy self needs some bedtime, but I did want to say Happy Gotcha Day to my red demon! Exactly one year ago today, I drove out to McKinney, paid $510 dollars for her ($510 because that was the amount the lady needed to cover her son's latest dental bill), had a huge fight with her about how we really do need to load on the trailer, brought her home, bathed her super crusty muddy self, and turned her out with my little herd.

Dohhhh so cute. Immy is so pretty, I wish she would have worked out as my primary riding horse but that just wasn't in her plan. I really had zero intention of keeping O when I first got her - hell, she was so horribly behaved at first that I absolutely hated her for the first two weeks that I had her - but as time went on, it became pretty clear that she was not leaving!

Happy Gotcha Day, you red demon you! 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dressage Fail

Sigh. For two seconds, I thought I might have been making some real headway with O in her dressage work. But.... I suppose I was wrong.

I go through this about once a month, or once every other month.... I get super excited about dressage work/eventing work, buckle down to polishing out dressage work, completely fail, decide she has no real future in dressage, get to doing other things with her, marvel at how well she does other things, get bored, try to do more dressage, completely fail again. I'm a halfway decent jock and have a lot of tools in my toolkit for dealing with evasions and problem horses of all shapes and sizes. But O... O is easily the most difficult critter I've ever sat on.

Some days, her dressage-esque work is en pointe. She relaxes over her back, stretches out, and takes a nice contact. Sometimes, we literally can only trot for about 5-10 strides before she careens out of control again, and we can only go in straight lines along the fenceline, but it feels like something of a victory. Sometimes we can put together a whole walk-trot test. Sometimes. Maybe like, once every few months or so, we can do it. Sometimes we can canter, and the canter is good! But, once we canter, the trotwork totally falls apart, and I have nothing again. The more we canter, the worse everything else gets. 
For every good dressage ride, we have several terrible ones. She came to me a year ago with every evasive trick in the book - that's why I got her for so cheap, after all - and she uses them all at the same time without any particular warning. Ignore your half-halt, curl behind the bit, and take off? Her specialty. If you put your leg on to push her out to the bridle, she takes off. If you release her in front so that she can stretch out to the bridle, she takes off. If you half-halt her to stop her from taking off, she curls behind the bridle and takes off anyway. The more she zooms, the more she wants to continue to zoom. And you just can't wear her out... you just can't. An hour into our ride today, I was so fed up with her zoominess that I just let her gallop on to get it out of her system.... she galloped for at least 15 minutes full out, after a full hour of a completely horrible ride already. I was jelly in the saddle at that point, and she was still galloping as fast she could round and round. She was churning along so fast that I had no brakes anymore, and had to engage my e-brake and pull her around into the fence to stop her before I completely melted into a puddle and fell off. Did she quiet down after that? Of course not. I think this horse would rather gallop until she collapsed rather than put in quiet work. She was lathered in sweat and all she wanted to do was keep running. I managed to get her walking quietly for about 10 minutes, with my usual 5-10 trot steps along the fenceline, before finally just calling it a day. What the hell was the point of all of that?

And yet, I NEVER have problems riding her out along the trail, on a loose rein, at whatever speed I choose. She is ALWAYS perfect. If I choose to take a contact out there, and put her to work while moving along the trail? Always, always perfect. Always. Dressage on the trail? It's always good.

But put her in an arena, or confined area, and go round and round in the same setting? She is an absolute hellish nightmare. This is the only time we fight with each other. This is the only time that she reverts back to all of the horrible evasions that she came with. 

If there was such a thing as trail-ssage, we'd be all over that. We'd win everything. But, there is not. And so, like we do every month, I throw my hands up, again. And as I do every month, I beat myself up about it, because I feel like I am giving up. I feel like any horse can do dressage, dressage is good for every horse, dressage is the foundation for all of everything everywhere. I feel like if I only tried harder, if I only figured out some other way of better explaining things to her, if I only keep at it, somehow I surely will get it with her, someday. But I also feel like every horse has their strengths and weaknesses as well as things they enjoy doing versus things they don't enjoy at all. I know a lot of horses who are arena only horses, and absolutely lose their every-loving minds when you take them out of the arena. I know horses who you couldn't get to gallop if you tried, ones that are super happy to just plod around forever. I know horses who can't stand jumping. I know horses who you can't get down the alleyway for rodeo events. And, I know horses who think arena flatwork is the most boring, miserable thing you could ever do with your life... and O is one of those horses.

Is it training? Is is personality? Past issues? Current issues? Some of the above? All of the above? Yes, to all of it, to some extent.

Could we go event and do ok? Yes, I'm sure we could. Well, I *know* we could. But after doing eventing for so long with such a winning horse, just going in and doing "ok" is not what I want to do. I don't want to waste the money just to do "ok." I was horribly spoiled with having an awesome winning event horse in Gogo. Now, I want to go event and win, if I am eventing. I want to do recognized shows, big shows, if I am eventing. Otherwise, I don't want to waste my money. I've already been there and done that. And everything is different now to me, since I lost Gogo. Some days, I miss eventing something fierce. Some days, I don't think I'll ever want to do it again. On those days when I miss it, I get excited about working on flatwork again. On those days when I don't miss it, I am more than happy to throw up my hands and say *&@! it, I don't want to do this anymore.

Do I want O to event? Of course I do. Am I going to be disappointed if she doesn't event? A little, yes. Maybe not at all. I'm not sure. Am I willing to dump her and go find a different horse that is more suited mentally to eventing? Of course not. I'd rather make some other goal for the both of us to achieve instead, something we both love and want to do. 

I've been going through this sort of identity crisis ever since Gogo died. Am I going to keep eventing or not? I thought I was going to. Now I'm not sure. But who am I, if I am not an eventer? Am I still an eventer if I haven't evented in 5 years? Am I going to event with this horse? Am I going to event with a different horse somewhere along the line? What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Where do I go from here? Am I a complete failure, or am I just going in a different direction?

I don't know.

One thing that I do know.... it's deathstorm season here in Texas. This one passed us by, thankfully, but I think Pmare was not impressed...