When I got Heidi she was almost unrideable. If I tried to hop on her casually in the yard, she would buck or rear. As soon as I slid a leg over, those ears would go back flat to her head and she would start to go up. She hated the arena, refused to move forward and even reared. She was always great on the trail, but anywhere near the barn she was a nightmare. Just being able to get on her safely was the first mountain I had to climb.
Below you see Heidi when I first got her and she hated everyone…
Now she’s all right with being ridden, and she’s quit the theatrics of rearing and bucking, but she is still ridiculously barn sour. It’s almost impossible to ride her out alone. She has a temper tantrum and tries to turn back if I try to head down the driveway and down the road. This is the next hurdle we’ve got to overcome. I’ve got to get her past this so that I can get conditioning rides on her. I need to be able to ride safely alone. I don’t always have a friend to ride with.
Heidi is an odd duck. She’s really mellow and chill, not spooky, a very reliable horse in some respects. That is, until she decides she doesn’t want to do something. Then she’s a turd. She has no physical problems. She’s simply doesn’t feel confident doing certain things, and I’ve got to build her confidence. I have to show her that there are no dragons in the driveway, or wildcats on the road. My job as the trainer is to give her trust in me and confidence in our partnership. I know some people say they could solve her problem in one afternoon, but that would involve more force than I’m comfortable with. I like to go slow and steady, doing things in baby steps until the baby steps add up to big progress. I like the horse to be a willing participant in every step. I think of it like building a brick house. Every day I try to add a brick, one at a time, slow and steady, until I’ve built something useful. If I get too focused on the end goal, I rush and get overwhelmed. When I think of laying bricks one by one, I feel like I’ve accomplished something every day, no matter how small.
I have no doubt that I’ll be able to ride her out alone with no problem before too long. She’s a good horse on the inside, just needs some coaxing!