Saturday, June 11, 2011

In Limbo - Broken

The thing about blogging, at least for me, is that it is a very vulnerable thing. It's my own fault, I've chosen to be very honest about this horse time. I am not the kind of person who can write some sort of Christmas Letter blog where all the stories are about how fabulous the kids are doing without mentioning the daughter in rehab.

Because there are plenty of places where I do write that very thing, all day. It's called WORK. Where the sun is always shining, the birds are tying ribbons in our hair, and things are just getting better all the time, darn it!

I'm even quite good at it. Inspiring some say. But this blog is about being honest, and therefore, about being vulnerable. And not just to whoever reads this. For me the act of putting things into words makes them real in a way that nothing else does. It requires me to examine myself. To embrace what I may not want to embrace. To take in my flaws and weaknesses and realize that they are, indeed, part of me, and are inescapable.

Yet this most recent ... incident...

I just haven't wanted to talk about it. Which is unfair of me, really. The blogs I follow are honest. Are authentic. Are the places where people share the tough times. And while I've bounced around and commented, I swallowed my tongue about my own place in time.

Frankly, I come from a long tradition of suffering in silence. When things go wrong I get in the cave and hide out. It's not particularly healthy and it certainly isn't anything I'm proud of. But if I've been sent to this life to learn a few things, one has got to be to live with the integrity I admire in so many.

Without going into more detail than I can stomach for the moment, let me just share that I had a very scary incident with Smokey. We were on a trail ride with two others and he bolted. Then, crossing a street, he bucked.

I wasn't thrown. I wasn't injured - except where it counts.

I dismounted and my trainer and friend rode him back. She encouraged me to get on her horse, but I was too shaken, too angry. She encouraged me, after a mile of walking, to get back on him.

I couldn't, I wanted nothing to do with him.

Nothing. Not him. Not any horse.

I walked back on a river of anger, fear, humiliation, and sadness for two miles.

I would have kept walking, walking far, far away, but for the email Stephanie sent me.

Which I'll post tomorrow.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I know that feeling of not wanting to have anything to do with a horse. I was threatening to find a new home for Gabbrielle after she kicked Bombay. Something really bad happens and you convince yourself it's not worth it. Time passes and your perspective changes.

Laura Crum said...

I wish I had the perfect thought to share, but I don't. I think your fear is very realistic. Riding a young horse is (usually) a recipe for at least the occasional scary moment. I have been there and I am aware that I don't want to be there any more. I am afraid to be on a horse who is bolting/bucking--period. I do not want to get hurt. My solution has been to choose to ride only very steady reliable horses--yes, they can still spook, yes they could still dump me. But the odds of the truly scary behavior go way, way down. I'm not saying to give up on your young horse--everybody's path is different. I am saying that it is a reasonable, realistic thing to be afraid to ride a horse that has behaved that way with you, and you should not beat yourself up for it. Maybe have your trainer ride Smokey for awhile? Give yourself a little space to sort out what you really want to do. I have always been impressed by your clear way of thinking and your honesty. Sending you good wishes.

aurora said...

Sending you a heartfelt cyber hug! I know it only makes it a tiny bit better to know that there are others feeling the exact same way you are, specifically me. I've recently had a bad experience, you can read about it on my blog.

My suggestion would be to have Smokey checked out. Something caused his reaction. You may not get definitive answers, but you can rule things out and begin to move forward. You may not want to right now, and that's okay. Do it when you are ready.

A trainer friend is a good thing to have, they listen and know it's real - and more importantly how to help.

Because we are so passionate about our horses, and riding - it hurts the most emotionally. It does make us broken, but with time we will heal.

jill said...

This kind of thing sucks. I am sorry for you. The question I would ask is, what happened before what happened happened? That is, do you know what caused the bolt or the build up to the bolt? If you can clearly think back and figure out the trigger, it would at least give a place to start from to resolve your feelings of what happened. Not that it will make you feel better about, just draw a bit of understanding from it.
Just know that any feelings you have about the situation are valid, no matter what may have been the trigger. You have to figure it out from there. It's hard, good luck and hugs.

Shirley said...

First of all, I appreciate you honesty, its one of the reasons I read your blog. Secondly, not every personal thing needs to be shared on a blog, but does need to be reckoned with within ourselves and our family and friends.
Only you will know where your journey with Smokey will go from here, and if you feel like sharing it with us, you will have plenty of like minded folks, who have been where you are now, to use as a sounding board.

Muddy K said...

Trust me, if you can, when I say that the fear you felt lies in you and is part of you. Smokey was just the unlucky catalyst and has no clue what you are feeling right now. It's hard to separate him from how you feel, but you need to try, for both of you.

Thank you for writing this brave, truthful post. I know it can't have been easy. If it's any comfort, it helps those of us who know these moments all too well.

Sarah said...

I totally understand that feeling-and it's horrible. When I first got Miles, there was one specific day I can remember I HATED him-if I could have literally thrown him back out in his pasture after working with him I would have. Blah blah blah, stupidcakes details you don't care about-just know that whatever it is you're feeling you're not alone. Thanks for being honest-it's the best way to grow, and when you look back on all the time you put into your wonderful blog, you don't want it to be a fairy tale.
Take care~

Maia said...

Your honesty is compelling and I don't know what to suggest that you do. About five years ago, Kitt went into a bucking rampage that was so severe, the barn owner told me if I had stuck to her for seven more seconds, I would have won a buckle. I was knocked out and badly bruised, and my faith in riding all but destroyed.

Why did she do it? She was sick with lymes, sore all over, not in her right mind and I had the worst ill fitting saddle on the planet. She had also been tormented for over an hour by a nasty little brat before I got there. All of this I found out later. That and the barn owner had been abusing her when I wasn't there.

I kept her because we had a history and spent the next five years getting her head back in place and making her well. I found a vitamin regimen that has kept her in permanent remission.

I can't tell you what to do with Smokey. Was this an isolated incident? Has he ever done anything like this on a less explosive level? Do you have lymes disease where you are? If you do get him tested.

The one thing I can tell you, is for your own sake, you have to get back up on some horse not Smokey, not for awhile and ride. Sending you hugs from the east coast.

Vaquerogirl said...

Oh man Can I relate to you on a lOT of levels!
1. My daughter went into rehab three times.I used to tell people she was in Paris studying Art!
It was jail that finally put her on the straight and narrow and she has been clean for three, almost four years and she is doing great! I want you to have faith and hope that your daughter will turn her life around as well. We just have to be patient and watchful. God Bless her and you..
2. After my most awful show of all time, and fighting with my horse for days -I didn't want to ever see him again. I would have taken $100 for him and not looked back. But things have settled and my anger is controlled. I realize it wasn't only his bad behavior but my attitude that were at war with each other. He is still for sale, but If I don't sell him, I'll ride and love him all the same.
We all go through rough patches and we have to give ourselves permission to pitch fits, throw things, feel sad or less than honest, then we can shake our skins out and move on. I wish for you that relief! Good luck!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

One of the things we MUST remember about horses--even our very old and trustworthy mounts--is that they will fail us occasionally. But we also have to remember that our other animal companions--including our human companions--also fail us.

The problem with horses is that when they fail to remember we're on their backs and/or are in their space we can get hurt. Badly.

I don't like to use the word "fail," but I hasten to point out that horses also "fail" each other--a sparring filly kicks her best friend too hard, and her beloved companion gets shoved into a barbed-wire fence. The mare goes after her errant colt in a shelter, and her baby gouges his eye on a feed bucket.

The amazing thing is that these huge animals don't hurt each other (or humans) MORE often. They are naturally gifted at controlling their power. Unfortunately, they are also naturally gifted at lightning-fast physical response (jump first, think later).

When I got my first horse (a sensible older mare) I was a noob owner, and I took her good habits for granted. It's only after many years and experience with many different horses that I had an inkling about how many miles that mare had on her. And yet she dumped me one day after I tried a one-rein stop during a bolt(we were being chased by two of the neighbor's dogs). She didn't buck, just came to an abrupt stop. I shot off, and landed hard on my shoulder. I even peed my pants. Channy quickly turned to face the dogs (which scared them off) and then calmly stood by me while I got myself back together. All I could "see" at the time was how embarrassed, hurt, scared and betrayed I felt. It was only later and after a lot more 'education' with horses that I realized she had acted with restraint and done her best to protect both of us.

Aurora is right--we have a kind of emotional connection with our horses that is very hard to explain to others, and it can feel like you've been kicked in the heart when something like this happens. Give yourself time. It's way too easy for a lot of us to get "locked in" to doing a or b with our horses. Try doing something completely different with Smokey for a while, or just hang out with him. It takes a lot of cojones to be this honest, my dear, and you're on the right track. Good luck.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Awww geez...that had to have been a horrifying ride. I feel for ya. Big hugs to ya and don't worry about rushing back to 'fix' things with Smokey. Sometimes it really does take a little time to let go of all of the emotions you ended up with.

Maery Rose said...

I can relate to the struggle of balancing being honest and the resulting vulnerability that brings on. I'm sorry you went through such a frightening experience and that it sounds like it's made you doubt yourself and lose trust in your horses. Like others, I think be gentle with yourself and take it slow. Trust your gut in how far and how fast you can go back.

The toughest thing I've run into with expressing my feelings is that people take it as though I've given up hope or that I'm backsliding or whatever when most the time I know I'm just going through a rough time and I'll work through it. Being told to "buck up" doesn't help.

I appreciate your honesty. You will work through this.

John and Regina Zdravich said...

Oh, no....I am so sorry to hear that happened to you....
We have all been there. This is something you can get past. The horse is young...
They have bad days, and sometimes they react to things inappropriately, like we do. Please give the horse a chance....

smazourek said...

I had a very similar feeling a few weeks ago. My mare did something that crushed me (emotionally) and I left that day feeling like I never wanted to see her again.

Upon reflection I realized that I was asking too much of her and, after getting her checked out, found that there was a physical reason why she did what she did. Despite that I'm still not in the place where I was with her before. I feel guarded with her now.

Trust takes a long time to build but it can be destroyed in an instant- for the horse and for the rider.

Jan said...

Breathe, Oh, I'm sorry to hear about your bad experience with Smokey, and your understandable difficult feelings. Many of the commenters have offered good suggestions and comfort; I agree with them also that you just take your time to think, heal, give yourself some emotional space to just be, and see what your thoughts are in a week. We do have emotional connections with our horses that contribute to our feeling all sorts of ways when things go wrong. It's hard to sort out, so I hope that you give yourself lots of time.

Rising Rainbow said...

I think we all find this place at some point in our lives. It doesn't have to be about horses, most anything we invest ourselves in can trigger it and it's a tough place to be. How tough is directly related to how big the emotional investment has been. What we do with it is unique to each one of us. No one can tell you what the "right" thing to do is because there really is no "right" thing.

What I have learned from my experience in this place is listen to you heart. It may take time to be able to hear it but don't act until you do. Your heart is what holds the key to what is best for you.

And thank you for sharing this difficult post with such honesty.

Trailrider said...

I'm not sure I understand. This is his second bolt, and not his first buck. It sounds like this one was worse than the others. But you didn't fall. I've endured equally as dramatic experiences and FALLEN at least 6 times since I've known you Breathe. Given, it was mostly on other people's horses or horses I have since gotten rid of because I wasn't the rider they needed or they were just plain crazy horses. But falls happen. That's it. Maybe you need to fall some to quit being worried about it.

If you want a non-bolting, non-bucking horse, you're going to have to get an older, VERY proven horse, with TONS of training and miles. But you say you want to ride endurance? Those are rides on spirited, half-crazy horses ridden in situations where wrecks CAN and DO happen. Smokey could be a great endurance horse, but I don't think he's ever going to be a "steady Eddie" kind of horse. You just aren't the rider for him and his type, unless you are willing to risk injury and willing to figure out how to ride him through it.

I am unclear on your goals. But there is nothing wrong with wanting a non-threatening ride. Just get the horse that will give you that. Cibolo was not a steady horse. Nor is Smokey. Nor was Canyon. Spirit was, mostly. Woody is. Even Lola is. I'm not sure about Lily, honestly. You need a horse that has NEVER been known to buck. I can say that about Woody and Lola, going on many years now. I can't say that about my new horse or Vaquero, but I accept those risks when I ride them.

Maybe it's the horse, maybe the rider, or maybe the rider hasn't been picking the right horses for what she really wants.