It feels kind of bittersweet to be typing this post. Part of me is sad, and feels a bit like I’ve failed. The other part of me, though, is relieved. The kids have been at the new farm for almost a month (?) and they’ve been settling in really well. The care is fantastic, and while I don’t make it down nearly as often as I’d like, the communication from the farm owner has been top notch.
Our first lesson was… a mess. Andrea is wonderfully patient and I’m riding better than I ever have. Eli is the soundest he’s ever been. Still, it was a mess. He spent the entire lesson sweating and screaming for Abby, with a neck like a brick. It was probably the worst I’ve ever seen him. There was no settling, even after 45 minutes he was still fairly frantic. We decided that maybe the next step would be to separate the two of them, since she did her part in screaming back. Jill happily agreed and Eli went out in a group of geldings. Abby got the private turnout that every princess deserves.
They were still stalled next to one another at night, but separated during the day with 0 theatrics from either party. I figured after a few days of settling into their new routine, with the intensely hot weather we’ve been having, it would be a good opportunity to see what I had.
What I had was still an absolute mess. Screaming, running, sweating (the stressed kind), and just complete disregard for the human on his back – or in the middle of the lunging circle. I tried lunging him outside in hopes that the confines of the arena were maybe too claustrophobic. He was the same. Consistently a complete emotional wreck. Even with all the tools in my toolbox, the techniques Andrea has taught me, and going all the way back to ground work basics…. he’s a mess.
I was talking to another barn worker yesterday and telling her about how it’s all going, as she’s been a great sounding board over the last year (thank goodness for barn friends!) and jokingly said “Idk, maybe I’ll give him another few weeks and if he can’t get it together have Scott come pull his shoes and he’ll go live as a feral creature until next spring.”
Then at 3 that afternoon the barn owner sent me a text that he’d lost a shoe and I don’t think a sign could have slapped me harder across the face. So, I called Scott to get his opinion, and next Monday we’ll be pulling his shoes and kicking him out until next spring to see if that helps his mindset any.
While I’m a little sad, I’m also so, SO relieved to make the conscious effort to put him on the back burner for a while. I’ve given this horse everything that I can. I’ve sought help from one of the best professionals I know. I’ve put the money into vet work, dental work, and lessons. He was even on the market for a few months, in hopes that he would find a human that was a better fit. None of it was clicking, so I feel like the most responsible thing I could do for him is to just leave him alone and see what happens.
Somebody told me once that life is to short to ride bad horses, and while I don’t think Eli is inherently bad, there’s just something about him that’s not inherently good either. I don’t know if it’s maturity, something physical we just can’t figure out, or something we haven’t thought of yet. What I do know is that I’m tired of dealing with it; my emotions surrounding it are tapped out and it’s time to switch my energy, money, and attention to the little red horse. We’ll see what happens come next spring but for now, the Dude is on vacation.
Thankfully for this lady, I’m okay with that.