Spicy's Field Trip

I don't feel like I've been trying very hard to be patient with Spicy lately.

That's not to say that I haven't been patient, I just haven't had to try. We were where I expected, even ahead of schedule in some aspects. This weekend, for the first time in our retraining, I found myself struggling to rein in my impatience, disappointment and the shame that goes along with realizing while you can be the person your horse thinks you are on the outside, you're still going to have human desires on the inside.

Please to be not taking photos.

I was giving a friend a ride, and it ended up being the perfect opportunity to bring Spicy. Sunday rolled around and I managed to start my poor truck, who hates the cold, and load up both horses.

Spicy did not exactly walk right on the trailer, but he wasn't panicking either. What impressed me the most was the first time he got half way on, lifted his head straight up in the air and bonked his noggin on the ceiling. I held my breath and waited for him to unravel. Instead he backed off and on our second or third reapproach he walked on and let us latch him in!

To me, I was disappointed he didn't just walk right on old hat. But my friend hadn't seen him load since our very first trauma with the trailer in August, which resulted in two hours of sweating and running and 0 Spicy's on the trailer. So her jaw pretty much hit the floor when he not only smacked his head and got over it but proceeded to get on.

My goal once we were at our location was to do some ground work. In restrospect I wish I had brought the long lines, but we still had plenty to do with rope circling and in-hand work. Spicy started very... well... spicy. But in time, he settled.

Holy shit, who's this good looking stud

I took advantage of having a completely closed arena and actually turned him loose. He was more than happy to play with me at liberty. I've never, ever in my life had a horse that was that in tune with my cues. I tacked him up to see if we could actually ride in a real arena with real footing, but he really didn't seem interested in it. Under saddle I lost all the focus I had on the ground, and he was slowly evading more and more with his shoulders. 

Weighing my options, I decided today was not my day to ride and I should instead work through his shoulder issues on the ground where I had a little more control. We spent a half an hour (with lots of breaks) working on various lateral work in hand with the short reins. He was actually really great, crossing his forelimbs in ways he couldn't before because of how stuck he got.

he's been lookin damn fine lately!

It took him three tries to load up and then my ginormous rig kinda got stuck in the tiny parking lot and he was super patient while it took us FOREVER to get out.

It looked like this. I had to ask for help.

I felt like I should have been over the moon when we got home and he calmly slipped on his own shit, nearly fell down the ramp, then calmly backed the rest of the way like he didn't just half fall out of the trailer. But I felt kind of disappointed. Forgetting the long lines, not pushing through on the ridden work, not having him walk right on first try on the trailer. These things were nitpicky, the difference between an A+ and an A-, but I still wanted them.

Just throwing in this little screenshot
to remind me of what he USED to be like. at home.
It's a feeling I really need to shake off, because our outing was not a failure, and just shows that there are even more improvements for me to make, different things I can try and more training opportunities. We've come this far, we can make it the whole way. I'm sure of it.


  1. I think it's totally natural as humans for us to feel this way. You're so right that it's vital to keep perspective, and learn to be happy with "better" even it's not "best". For me this is always a constant pursuit, because we just aren't wired that way. We have to train ourselves to seek and be happy with the "better". It sounds like you made all the right decisions though, for the horse you had that day. And the horse you had that day was a billion times better than the horse you had last year. Your process is working, and that's pretty exciting.

    1. Probably if I had a string of horses I wouldn't care as much... sometimes I wonder if that's the secret to the pros. If they have a crappy jump school on a green horse they can jump their experienced campaigner to remind them what it's supposed to feel like.

      Being a being with higher cognitive thought sucks, tho haha!

  2. I have felt this way on more than one occasion. It's hard to be happy for "average" vs "OMG THAT WAS AMAZING". It's funny because even tho we tell ourselves "I'm going to do X just for exposure and all I want is the horse to be calm and have a positive experience" and then get upset that the horse wasn't 100% with us... I did this a lot with Annie and it frustrated me that she'd meet my expectations and then I'd get upset she didn't exceed them.

    Being a human is confusing sometimes, haha.

    I think you did the right thing tho, and hooray for non-spicy trailer loading. That's a huge plus he still got on even with bonking his noggin!

    1. HAHA omg I'm glad I'm not the only fool who does this. As soon as I sat on him I was like "megan you silly... this wasn't even your goal for the day and there was a REASON for that."

  3. Sometimes a good, easy, laid back experience is far more important than 'doing the things' in work. Great job!!

  4. My favourite comment about training is “reward the try”. If you focus on this everything seems more rewarding :)

  5. sometimes positive mileage is its own reward, even if it didn't quite get us the distance we hoped to cross. all those small steps DO add up and get us somewhere eventually tho! glad Spicy had such a good trip <3

  6. Sometimes it can be hard to be satisfied with small progress when there is big progress to be made, but you're building such a solid foundation with Spicy and it's been fun to follow along as it pays off!

  7. Ugh, that thought pattern as a human is so freaking hard to push past. It takes its own kind of training to work through and, even then, it still crops up now and again. You've got great awareness about everything though, and you will absolutely get where you want to be. :-) Spicy is one fortunate fellow to have an owner like you.

  8. Totally get those feelings! But you're able to see that it was good, even if it wasn't as good as you might have hoped. It's so hard to be patient, but honestly, you're doing a great job with Spicy. Before you even realize it, you'll be riding in new places like it's old hat. All in good time.
    It's so fantastic that Spicy wasn't reactive to bonking his head nor slipping out of the trailer. That's huge!

  9. Perspective is everything, and you've really got it. Definitely doesn't sound like a failure to me, and that's all because your patience and understanding for this guy!

  10. I 100% get the sentiment you are feeling but I have to say I'm impressed by your ability to write a post that does expound ALL the positives Spicy and you experienced on the field trip. It's so easy for people to only put the highlights, or to only post the negatives. Being able to relay both is so balanced and refreshing to read.


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