All I ask is for a horse to ride…

……and a jump to ride it over.

Why is this too much to ask?

If you’ve read past posts about Spyder, Tate, and the other horses in my trail of bad riding over the last few years, you’ll know that I’ve ruined every horse I’ve ever sat on.

The horses all became back sore, started bucking, started resisting my seat, legs, hands.  They started to do everything I wasn’t trying to make them do.  Spyder was by far the worst of it and she gave a hard core wake up call that there was something very wrong with my riding.

After the Spyder incident, I said I was NOT going to buy another horse, because I clearly cannot ride and only ruin the very nice horses I own.  So I went to shareboarding.  I shareboarded not 1, not 2, but 3- yes, 3 Dressage trained horses and every -single- f**king one of them after a few weeks of me riding developed “problems”.  So I stopped shareboarding.  With my own horses, it took months.

I spent years struggling with Spyder to try to get her back to the nice rideable mare I purchased.  She became so back sore that I could not even put a blanket on her in the cross ties in the aisle.  She became so aggressive, she just hated me.  She associated me, and everything I did to her with pain, and I have no idea how I caused it or what I did.  The day I brought her to my trainer’s hunter/jumper barn, she was fine.  They hardly had any issues with her and they jumped her and got her to do lead changes and everything.

I retired Tate all together because I could not sit on him.  I have spent the last four or five years evaluating my riding, stressing about what I did to cause this problem to all these horses.  Do I sit too deep?  Do I drive too hard with my seat?  Am I pushing the horses too hard, too fast, too much.  Reins too short?  Saddle problems?  Over and over and over in circles in my head I ran through all those events.  These are all problems I never had before, and I used to ride some really naughty horses – but I always rode THROUGH the problems, not created problems through my riding.

While all this with the dressage horses was going on, I was also taking hunter/jumper lessons at my trainer’s barn where Chewbacca currently lives.  I never had a problem at all in my 15 years (at the time) in the saddle, with hunter riding.  Not once.  So I thought I could just keep up with my hunter lessons, never own another horse again, and I’ll be fine.

And then as my hunter lessons progressed, I got a little better and better again, refinding my confidence and thinking, hey, maybe I can ride.  Maybe I just got unlucky with 5 different horses.  Yea.  I actually finally got myself convinced that it was 5 different horses that were all the problem.  Uh-huh.  But hey, I was riding the “hard horse” in the lesson barn and jumping him 2’9″-3’0″ occasionally.  I was doing full courses at 2’6″ and I was enjoying it.  I was hoping maybe to show once again, but the costs of leasing a school horse and paying all the show fees were too much.

So, finally 2 years after moving on from Spyder, I thought maybe I could actually do it again- get a horse and ride successfully.  It took 4 years from the time Spyder lost it on me to the day I brought Chewbacca home.  Four years of finding my inner rider once again.  Four years of struggling with my riding, and trying to convince myself I could ride again.

It’s been a little over six months since Chewie came to be mine.  I swore I was not going to ruin him.  I swore up and down I would keep him at my trainer’s barn, ride him with supervision, make sure I do everything right with him, and if problems arose, my trainer would be right there to help me.  I swore he was my “last ditch” horse.  If problems started again, I would be done.  Never sit on a horse again.

Feb 5, during a lesson, I trotted Chewie over a cross rail and he pulled up lame on the other side.  After week, he seemed fine.  I did some treatments for him, and it appeared to be something with his left front.  We were thinking sore feet/ abcess, something.  So after some treatments, he seemed perfect. I rode him 2/10 and 2/12 and he was great.  I figured his feet were sore and we’d gotten past it.

So 2/15, I headed back out to the barn for a hack.  And my husband was with me – video camera in hand….

This is more lame than he was the week before.  Worst yet.  So of course, the next day, I’ve got the vet out.  The vet suspects that it’s the splint on the left front.  He thinks Chewie rubbed it or it’s bothering him.  He didn’t flex lame…err.. lamer, and nothing apparent seems to hurt him EXCEPT HIS BACK.

When the vet evaluated Chewbacca, the horse damn near sat down, his back was so sore.

I’ve noticed that my back has been hurting, too, which it hasn’t done in the last 3 months, apart from the past 2 weeks.  The saddle is slipping back, which I’ve mentioned before.  I think the saddle no longer fits properly through the pommel across his shoulders, so it’s sliding back into a bad position, hurting his back and my back, and producing lameness.

I also think that my riding has done this.  I’ve got a second vet coming out this week, so I’m right back to where I was five years ago with Spyder.  With her, when 1 vet couldn’t find anything, I got another, and another, and another.  9 in total.  I hauled her to Wisconsin to have vets look at her.  And now I’m starting down the same path with Chewbacca all because I just wanted to have another horse to ride, jump, and hopefully show.

I think Chewie needs a saddle fitter, but I also think he needs a vet.  I’m not sure which he needs first, but I’m getting the vet out for starters.

Yesterday I tried to ride Chewie to see how he was.  He walked fine.  I trotted and he felt just a hair off.  My trainer came in and I trotted again to show her, and he was really really really off.  So I stopped quickly, and then he started going lame at the walk.

When I discussed all of this with my trainer, who helped me through the Spyder debacle, I re-analyzed the past 5-6 years, starting with Tate, who I could no longer ride as of April 2006, and Spyder, who I couldn’t ride as of Dec 2006, and Rio (a horse I used to work for his owners- bad idea there…) who went sour on me around May 2006 and then the horses I’ve leased… Riley in 2008, Frankie in 2009….  And it all fits – the horses were different heights, breeds, ages, and fitness/training levels.  The saddles were different.  The rider was the same and the reactions were the same.  So I’m back to questioning my riding again, and as I discussed it with my trainer – do I ride with my reins too short, do I drive too much with my seat… it came to me, and I realized the only thing different pre-2006 is that I was 70 pounds lighter.  I’m too fat to ride a horse.  I’m ruining their backs because I’m posting my plump butt on them.

I literally am too fat to ride.  How’s that for depressing.  And now my plague has hit Chewbacca, too.  And I don’t know what I’m going to do.  I’ve got a vet coming out this week, hopefully I can help him.

Put me on a horse consistently, 3 times a week, and give me a few months, and I’ll ruin it.  All I ever enjoyed in my life was riding.  I used to love to jump, to show, to work horses, and to ride.  And I just wanted to do it again, and look what I keep doing to my horses and to myself.

Hopefully I can get some medical intervention to get Chewie sound and unsore, but I know what I really need to do and I just have to get myself strong enough to face it.  I had a good cry yesterday with my trainer and again after telling my husband.  I can’t even talk about all of this without crying.  The one thing I really need to do is something I’ve known for years now …. I need to no longer ride.  So the one thing I’ve always loved in my life, is the one thing I need to give up.  Of course, I also need to lose weight, and I’ll work on that, but how can I trust myself on a horse again, even if I do somehow manage to lose 70 pounds…

Well, it’s a lot to take in.  Good thing Chewie is leaving my trainer’s barn next Saturday.  I am spending $700 a month to ruin a fantastic horse.  Awesome.  At least he can come home with Luke and Dixie and hang out, and be more affordable.

Speaking of Luke and Dixie… Let’s end this with pictures from yesterday.  I did a play day with all of the horses and they all had a good time…

I was a beautifully sunny day with a perfect 40 degrees and gentle breeze.  The horses were happy to be able to run in the arena since the snow’s almost all gone, and afterwards, Luke and Dixie did a little ground driving too.

Before I attempted to ride Chewie, we played in the paddock a little bit.  Once I got him going, boy did he get into it and have fun!  Made for great pictures!!!

Look at that right front foot!  Is it just me, or is that just really really folded over!!

About kshai1715

I am a lifelong equestrian, photography enthusiast, sci-fi lover, and sci-fi convention & costuming geek that also loves movies and video games. I am a hard working 30 something woman that survived cancer and am looking forward to a long, healthy, self-empowered life. Welcome to my blog and I hope you enjoy reading about my horses (and the rest of my life) as much as I like writing about them.
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4 Responses to All I ask is for a horse to ride…

  1. Dom says:

    Your journey breaks my heart every time. I see nothing overtly wrong with your riding. I think the horses need to be evaluated separately and see what went wrong with each one. In this case, it sounds like poor saddle fit and like Chewie needs to stop being ridden until the issue is completely resolved. I would have gotten off that horse the second he gave me the first head bob. Riding him to figure out where it’s coming from is going to make it worse, and I’m shocked your trainer didn’t say something. I agree that the vet should come out first. Keep in mind that all horses have bad days, lameness issues, and occasionally WEEKS of problem rides. Unless they are all coming back with the same diagnosis, I wouldn’t be so quick to assume it’s you. I know it’s disheartening, but I feel pretty strongly that SOMEONE would have said something if your riding was so bad it was obviously hurting your horses. In fact, it probably would have been me. I’m hoping you get to the bottom of Chewie’s new problem and that you two are back to jumping around and making awesome progress in no time.

    (as an aside- how many times a week is the trainer having you jump and at what height?)

  2. Lana Hambley says:

    Hi Amanda,

    Obviously, the way he is running and playing, he isn’t hurting that terribly bad. Maybe he just needs a chiropractor. Your back to having very poor esteem, which will not help either one of you. You need to work on your issue, at the same time Chewy is healing. You may be a little heavy (that’s your opinion), but Chewy is a big enough horse, that he should be able to handle you. Now if you were riding a little bitty horse, I may question whether they can handle that, but he is a big enough and strong enough guy, that it should bother him too bad. I would think improper saddle fit would be hurting him the worst. Just keep your chin up, and keep working at both your issues. It will be alot easier to fix those problems if you have a good attitude about it.

  3. Lilly says:

    Hi Amanda,

    I just came across your blog and haven’t had a chance to read through everything so sorry if you have already heard/tried anything I have to say. I’m wondering if you have ever been to see a chiropractor yourself? Several years ago my riding was “off”. It just didn’t feel right and my horses were different too. I did all the usual things, treating the horses for pain, working with different trainers, etc but I still didn’t feel right and my horses weren’t either. Someone suggested I go to a chiropractor. After the first adjustment I felt great, I realized I’d been in pain/uncomfortable/off in my day to day life too, I just didn’t notice it until it was gone! My riding felt normal again and soon my horses were back to being soft, round and forward. There was something off with my body and I was trying to compensate for it. My horses had to do the same thing when I was riding them and it was making everything a mess. You mentioned being sore/in pain when you were riding. You should never be in pain when riding, the opposite should happen and your body should be able to move freely and fluidly with the horse. If there is pain or discomfort, your right, something is wrong.

    Unless there is something else going on with Chewie, I agree with Lana that you are not too big to ride him. I also agree with her about the pictures, if he is moving like that at liberty he can’t be in that much pain. Please don’t feel like you have ruined him. I think you guys have just started your journey together.

  4. Tracie Noel says:

    Oh dear… gosh, I’m sorry you are being so hard on yourself. I agree with Lana 100%: Chewie is PLENTY big enough for you! I just can’t see how your weight is making that much of a difference! You actually look quite lovely on his back. And I have never seen anything in all the videos you’ve posted that said to me, “Geez, look at her abusing that horse.” You. Are. A. Good. Rider!!! Get him AND YOU eval’d by a chiropractor, get the saddle fit checked, give him a little time off for the possible leg issue, and then see where you are. I truly see no reason why you think you must stop riding. I know an excellent rider who is around 5’1″ and quite “rotund.” She used to get far more out of the TB mare we both rode in lessons than I did, and now she has her own, smallish TB mare. The two of them get along great. I don’t care WHAT George Morris says, good riders come in all sizes and shapes. Just like every horse doesn’t have perfect conformation, we don’t, either! 🙂

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