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We Are Flying Solo

February 4, 2011

The Demands We Make On Ourselves

Operation Solo Rehab is on Day 3. It's hard to not ask him to be round and bendy; it takes me forcing myself to just get up off his back, give him his head and just let him trot and canter around per Dr. Bob's orders. I put the jumping saddle on last night so I would be less tempted to sit there. God knows my two point needs work anyway.

He feels ok. I still think there is something going on in his left hind. But he's ALWAYS been uneven in that leg. Maybe he always will and I just need to accept it and move on. He's not lame, it's just a little weaker and more resistant there. It is very subtle, I can't even see it from the ground, but I can feel it at certain times.

Which brings me to my current subject of thoughtful contemplation: patience. It's something I pretty much suck at with people, but have an abundance of with animals. And it's something we as horse people are constantly challenged by, as I am recently reminded by several other bloggers who are struggling with issues, as we all have at one time or another.

Part of me says, well, I took Solo to vet, vet went pop, pop, pop, Solo should now be fixed and fine so let's get on with it already! But, as we all know, it doesn't work that way. I am telling myself over and over, you have to give the body time. Time to heal, time to strengthen, time to adjust.

It is so hard for me to do this: I have a goal (which is rare for me, I'm generally all about the day-to-day journey), I have a plan. I am ready to take steps forward to that goal. So when I am derailed in the plan, I beat myself up. You messed up, I tell myself, you mismanaged, you were too slow, you made the wrong decision, now you are off track.

This, of course, is not really fair. I don't let my friends do this to themselves, however, I expect myself to be superhuman. Something which I don't think is all that uncommon among the ranks of independent horsewomen (and men, although I think just due to our natures, us girls tend to be a bit more blame-y on ourselves. We get emotional, I can own it). So this is a lecture to my brain.

Training is the same way. I've talked before about how horse training is NOT a linear process. We must be patient and allow that there are going to be bad days, there are going to be mistakes, and there are going to be backtracks. But instead of beating ourselves over the head when this happens, we instead should welcome the opportunity to fill in training holes and to really focus on what our horse is telling us. Because I have found that I often learn the most about myself and my horse when working on these holes and as we fill them in and tamp down the metaphorical dirt, the pleasure of the more complete horse you get out of it is measurable.

Now can I live up to all of this? HA! Not bloody likely! But I aspire to it. On rare occasions, I pull it off. More often, I sit my frustrated self down and give myself a stern talking-to while prying my clenched teeth apart with a drill bit. I should probably just print "BE PATIENT" on a huge piece of posterboard and tape it to Solo's stall door.

David told me recently in a jumping lesson, "Allow the jump time to develop; the greater the quality of the jump, the longer it will take to develop and occur and it's ok to just wait for it to happen. Rushing it will only cause it to fall apart." I think it's a good analogy to extrapolate to any other situation you can imagine: allow things time to develop, time to happen, and allow yourself time to process, learn, and adapt. When we rush things or when we fail at being patient with ourselves, it all just falls apart and we end up in the corner, punching ourselves and muttering angrily (ok, maybe that last is just me).

Let's all remind ourselves to take a deep breath and cut ourselves a little slack. It's good to be driven and it's good to be accountable. But let's give the process time to happen and be ok with however long that time is, whether it be healing or learning or strengthening. And maybe when we catch each other falling into the self-flagellation trap, we can offer a helping hand of encouragement -- or at least a damn stiff drink.


  1. Good thoughts. I just finished reading Alois Podhajsky's wonderful book My Horses, My Teachers, and two of the points he make were to really use letting the horse stretch down to develop strength in the hindquarters, and to always say to oneself "I have time".

  2. Oh, I like that Kate: "I have time."

  3. Great thoughts that certainly apply to me, although in a much different way. I have wanted to break into eventing for (what feels like) forever and I keep getting derailed by one thing or another. I was hoping to buy a new partner this summer but b/c of circumstances beyond my control I will find myself leasing. I'm trying very hard to be satisfied with that and I will hopefully get to do my first event this summer but being patient is the hardest thing to do sometimes!

  4. My new trainer believes that all horses can get one-sided. She even believes that 9 times out of 10 they're weaker in the left hind. She has convincing explanations about which legs horses go lame in. We're working with a weak left hind, too. She's having me work him more on that side and is helping me feel and correct the times he's crooked. Once she started pointing out the moments he got out of line I started to pick them out, too. It is very new to me but I'm seeing very real results very quickly.

    Videos/photos on my blog if you're interested.

  5. Yes, Amanda, that is a very frustrating angle indeed. Are you a member of your USEA Area as well? Because I know in Area II, if a competent rider posted that they are looking for something to ride, there are HEAPS of people with more horses than time that would pounce on a catch rider/leaser.

    SP, OH MY GOD, you have no idea the relief that gives me to know I'm not the only one banging my head against this wall. I will definitely go check out your stuff. I am fascinated as to what your trainer's theories are. I definitely subscribe to the fact that all horses are lopsided.

  6. Very nice Kate - "I have time". It's been a while since I said that ANYWHERE, let alone the barn!

    I feel with you, eventer79.. I am impatient also. But sometimes, realizing that you are impatient and ready to get back down to work makes you actually patient. Just remember: the longer you let him recover at his own pace, the faster he will recover and eventually, the better results you will have. It's a process; relax and let it be. And have yourself a drink or two;)

  7. Also, eventer79: Tarzan (my horse I rode last year) had a genetic issue in his back right that made him ouchy whenever we cantered or did serious work that way. We later found out that the genetic defect makes the cartilage between his bones in his stifle totally disappear. I seriously doubt this is Solo's problem, but just keep an eye out if it gets worse. Don't worry too much about it though - many horses are one-sided and eventually work out of it. My barrel racer has issues in her back left and after a few laps of long, stretchy, relaxing trot, she's good to go. Relax and don't overthink it. He'll be fine, I'm sure.:) Best of luck!

  8. AHHHH, GE, that is not reassuring! ;-) But Solo's does get better once he stretches out and warms it up, so there must be SOMEthing there.

  9. I have a great recipe for some seriously butt-kicking blue drinks if ya need it. The recipe does involve Everclear, though, so I would reserve it for serious emergencies only! (Maybe giving Solo a few shots pre-ride would help?)
    Good luck!

  10. Well if he works out of it, then it shouldn't be much of an issue. I hope. Anyways - what Tarzan had was a genetic defect, not a disease or illness, so it's REALLY unlikely Solo or any other QH or TB has it. Tarzan was a Morgan. :)

  11. Very well said!

    "When we rush things or when we fail at being patient with ourselves, it all just falls apart and we end up in the corner, punching ourselves and muttering angrily (ok, maybe that last is just me)."

    - Heh, no, not just you at all! I find it extra hard, as I'm currently still just a once-a-week-lessoner, and while I made a good deal of progress at the start, we've hit a plateau, and ugh.

  12. Hey, I saw your COTH comment about memory foam was made into an Ecogold post, and the link was put up on EN!
    (I swear I am not internet stalking you! Lol.)

  13. I actually am 90% sure I have a pony to lease for the summer. He is quite a bit older (around 20) but still sound and game enough to do at least a starter and maybe beginner novice event this summer. Older may be great for my first time out anyways. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it works out.

  14. Frizz -- I am so excited to have my very own internet stalker!!! Oh, and I learned the hard way to stay far away from Everclear, blargh.

    Jenn, the time crunch is ALWAYS challenge, sigh.

    Amanda, sounds like a good deal to me, can 't wait to hear about it!