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Matter and Mature

I've had a rough couple of weeks. 

First, in non-horse-related items I let the boy that dumped me in November back into my life. Of course it seems stupid as I type it especially after how he dumped me but I believe strongly in forgiveness and he made a good case. I was only willing to let him back as a friend but after a drunk night of conversation he admitted that he was back because he wanted me back as a girlfriend. I refused to agree to that and told him he better take some time and think about it. I've behaved only as a friend with him since then refusing any advances and to his credit he has been mostly polite and respected my wishes. However it has been extremely emotionally tiring for me. I really did love him and had just really gotten over him when he contacted me and it has been an emotional roller coster for me trying to decide what I want since I have a decision to make. 

I'm still on the fence but the fence starting to lean one way pretty strongly and it is not in his favor.

With all that fun going on my time with Katai and at the barn should have been my escape but that has not proven to be the case. In my last post I wrote about how Katai in heat was a pain to deal with but I was starting to have my doubts that it had anything to do with hormones and with the new supplements really starting to make a difference in her comfort and behavior I have come very strongly to the conclusion that it has more to do with J.

I really, really, really, really didn't want that to be the case. I am not someone who questions her instructors. I've been taking serious lessons since I was five, not in riding, but in music but I gave and was taught to give those instructors my utmost respect and NEVER questioned them. If something hurt or I had questions I asked and we came up with a plan which I followed. I've had excellent instructors my whole life and stuck with all of them for 7+ years until they told me and/or my mom that it was time to move on to someone with more experience. With that being said I have lost so much respect for J after my last few lessons that I am beginning to think of moving my pony.

The issue is the trot. J wants a slow trot, with Katai carrying herself on her hind legs, and with an upright neck and head. Basically a 3rd level+ frame and carriage. I'm no Dressage expert but 

it. is. too. soon.  

and this has of course been proven by Katai's discomfort, tense back, canter/trot/gaiting mess, etc. She is not even a 90 day horse at this point and more importantly, she has an amateur rider. What I KNOW needs to happen is long and low, lifted back, slowly more uphill, and slowly changing the speed of her trot until she can carry herself properly for a few strides at a time and then build on that. J doesn't just want this advanced frame for a stride she wants it the whole, damn half hour lesson and I know it's bullshit. Even if Katai was ready for it, and she is not, I am not. I'm an amateur rider for heavens sake riding a horse that I have made slowly and with great care so as to not screw anything up. I know I take that risk since I am not an expert.

I'm mad, and have been mad, because Katai is my girl. It is up to me to protect her and speak for her and its not something I'm good at but even beyond that J is just so domineering that she will not listen to a word I say. I have been trying to not mess up my pony while J seems to be trying her damnedest to do just that plus I can't get it out of my head that it's because she dislikes Katai and just wants to prove to me that she is unsutable for this.

I'm mad that I put us in this place.

On Monday this week I got us out of the arena, away from J's eyes as she taught other lessons. I rode Katai in an open field and despite all of the things that she could have had issues with and the fact that I have not riden her anywhere but the indoor arena since I moved her to this stable she was perfect. She listened, she generalized knowledge, she realized that she still needed to listen to my leg and seat even in a different and exciting place. Most importantly she troted, fast but even with her back lifted and her head low, curved and relaxed. Her back swung. She didn't duck behind the verticle. I had steering AND brakes. She pushed up hills and maintained her pace and got only a slight bit faster going down them. She evenly and quietly changed to a canter and back to a trot off my seat. She was perfect and I do not deny that without J we would never be here but I can't ignore where she is trying to take us.

I've had three lessons of this madness despite me trying to just get her to let me allow Katai to trot a little faster she litterally takes the reins out of my hands and walks along next to us expecting Katai to trot at her walking speed. This makes Katai try this tense, tiny prancy walk with no carriage and so much tension that she feels like she is going to snap but even beyond this if it were just Katai I would continue to put my trust in J. It's the fact that I've seen more and more of her students ride and almost every single horse is hollow, tense, prancy, and nervous. Not something I saw in the two months I took lessons before moving there but not something I'm going to ignore now.

To me, it's time to move and I have a few options. There are three serious dressage/eventing barns in the area and two barns that are very eclectic both with dressage trainers as well as western, english, jumper, hunter, etc. 

I have mixed feelings because the two eclectic barns are the cheapest but both have trails, indoor and outdoor arenas and instruction. One of the instructors is better than the other but that barn is WAY more crowded and busy and I'm just not sure its a good place to put Katai.

 One of the serious barns is home to a dressage trainer that is on the high performance list for the Olympics as well as an eventer that teaches dressage lessons. I would certainly not need lessons from the dressage instructor but having her available would make me feel like I could stay for the long term. I have actually asked to be on the wait list for pasture since it sounds like it could be a long time and that barn is closest to the location that I hope to move when I'm ready to move on at work.

The second of the more serious barns has a great eventing/hunter/jumper instructor that I've taken several lessons with but they only do stall board and I'm still not convinced that I'm ok with that plus the fact that just stall board is the same price as pasture + weekly lessons where I am now.

The third of the more serious barns is the one that I am leaning to the most strongly right now. I'm not sure if I blogged about it but I've taken a lesson with the instructor and I enjoyed it. It was more fun than lessons with J have been plus she does a lot of natural horsemanship and groundwork with her students. I'm sure she could and would help me with Katai's phobia of fly spray, clippers and help with getting her more relaxed for trailer loading. Those things would be far more valuable to me than continued dressage training at this point. Board, if there is pasture available, plus lessons would cost $5 more per month than I am paying now. Yes, $5. I think my budget can handle that. It's also only about 10 minutes further away and since most of my other choices are 20+ more minutes away it is one of the closest options as well.

I really did not want to be moving again or making this decision again. I wanted to stay at my current barn for years and I know some people who read this will think I'm jumping the gun but seriously, if you saw the way that she is starting to treat my pony paired with the attitudes of the other horses at the barn you would be jumping ship as well. 


  1. I wouldn't put up with that kind of nonsense from a trainer AT ALL. Yes, we pay for a trainer's help and knowledge, but at the end of the day Katai is YOUR pony and YOU know her best... and if you're consistently ending your lessons with a tense, worried, stressed-out pony... it's time to move on. Good on you for making this tough call! I hope you get out of there and into a place where you can progress at the pace that's right for you and Katai.

    1. Thank you so much for your support! I'm really looking forward to looking at some other barns and meeting some trainers.


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