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Grumpy and Ugly

Face Full of Dirt

I’ve procrastinated writing this post, because I wasn’t sure what to say… or exactly how I feel. I still don’t, but I’m documenting my journey as a working, adult amateur and that includes the good times and the bad. Right now, Miles and I are going through a bad time. After our lameness issues, followed by pulling shoes, I finally scheduled a jumping lesson. It’s been 2 1/2 months since my last lesson on the big red horse, so I was pretty pumped.

Trit Trot
Enjoy a random collection of old photos to break up text!

We started out on the flat, and discussed what I needed to focus on (forward) and what things might need to fall by the wayside for now (frame). I got a feel for how Miles’s trot should be, and we practiced adjustability at the canter with ground poles. All of this went well — while it’s frustrating to go back to square one, I also know that going forward is my problem right now, so stepping back to just address that makes sense. Hopefully once that is resolved, we will be able to add back in other pieces of training on the flat.

Miles Milk Mustache

Over fences was… a disaster. I’m probably being a bit -over-dramatic about the entire thing, but I’ve got a lot of feels going on about the situation. So after our flatwork, we started over a crossrail in the center of the ring. We jumped it twice going away from the in-gate, and things were okay. The first time I didn’t ride great, but I rode better the second time over. After that we turned around, and jumped it towards the in-gate. I got a little bit of a longer spot to the jump (not a launcher, but a bit longer that perfect), but that’s the distance I saw, and the distance I asked for. Miles took it, but on landing he pulled his head down, crowhopped and did some small bucks. I rolled right off his shoulder and into the dirt.

Grumpy Cantering
So grumpy!

It took me a second to get up (it always does), as I make sure all my limbs still move, but then I was just mad. Mad at myself for allowing this to happen, mad at my horse being a jerk and mad that now I was nervous and scared to jump a crossrail. Of course I got right back on and trotted the offending crossrail a few more times, the first of which Miles tried to buck me off again, but I was prepared and stopped his antics. After that, Trainer and I talked. For a while. And we determined that it would be best if Miles got some rides from my BFF, Trainer’s working student. So we set a date, and Miles went back to his stall while I brushed off the dust and prepared for my second lesson later that evening on Moiya.

Grumpy and Ugly

I took Friday off because I just don’t bounce like a teenager anymore, but I rode Saturday on the flat where Miles was a royal jerk. I’m pretty sure I scared the bejesus out of some unsuspecting boarders who were riding with me (sorry!). Miles got very grumpy about cantering to the left, and when he let out a huge cow-kick, I really got after him with a big “NO!” and a few smacks with my crop. After that, we cantered and galloped and did more upward transitions; good horses get ridden for 20 minutes, bad ponies do not. On Sunday I really needed a mental break — so I took it and stayed away from the barn for the most part. Instead, Sam and I went to the New Albany Classic and watched Connor Swail and Beezie Madden battle it out for the top spot! Congrats to Swail and his horse Simba, who both rode with a lot of guts to come in first.


Fly On Over is an equestrian lifestyle blog devoted to connecting horse lovers around the world. By providing equestrians with practical tips and tricks related to horse ownership, discussing training techniques for horse and rider, as well as covering industry news.

29 thoughts on “Face Full of Dirt

  1. It’s okay to have bad days. I think you guys will just have to get back in sync. I hear you on being mad. I beat myself up. Needlessly. It’s good you took a step back for a breather. You’re very aware that’s great! Hope next ride is better.

  2. Bridget and I are going thru something similar. It does get better! It sounds like you’re doing all the right things, the miles you know are live will be back in no time. 🙂

  3. We all have those moments. And I find that especially after a hiatus, all the stuff that was hard before is SO MUCH HARDER! But the good news is that you’ll work through it faster this time because you’ve already been there, done that.
    Now to help you feel a little better, I give thee my Sunday morning trials and tribulations:
    I went to my neighbor’s house to try her pre green horse as a possible loaner for my medal final next month. He’s a lovely horse. Bigger than I’m used to, but very quiet. VERY QUIET! I was told he had an enormous step and is very easy. All true! Except for one problem…. It’s tough to achieve said enormous step because he’s SO QUIET! The first line I jumped, I got left big time because I didn’t like how big the gap was at the correct 4 strides… But he was game. Ok, next time I will kick more and fold over! Ok, that worked. Well then we added another line with a nice solid 3′ oxer coming out. My neighbor told me that the line was a 5, but it’s 4 feet short, so it’s pretty quiet. Well… it’s not quiet if you have no pace. But I trusted that he liked the gap, so I asked him to leave at 5 strides. Which he did. And didn’t make it. We crashed right through that back rail of the oxer and then landed stumbling… Somehow we both stayed up right. And we came back and did it better. But ugh. It’s pretty unnerving to crash someone else’s horse. Especially a young one. Needless to say, I’m going to ride him a few more times before I make any decisions about finals!

  4. That sucks! Hopefully you had a good lesson on Moiya at least. I’m sure after some time to digest things, let Miles get some extra training rides, and some more saddle time with him yourself you will have a clearer picture of where Miles is. I certainly wouldn’t discount the fact that he’s just coming back and may be feeling a bit sore. Not an excuse for him to be bad of course. I’ve just learned that Stampede very clearly portrays how he is feeling each day by how he acts under saddle.

  5. Man. I’m in the same boat right now, hence the lack of blog posts. It’s super frustrating. Fiction and I got in a fight last night when he refused to canter and instead tried to be a giraffe. Take a mental break, get someone else to ride him, and try again. You’ll get through it!

  6. I know it is super hard not to take it personally, but don’t take it personally. Horses get grumpy being brought back into work, and as long as its not a physical pain issue, get after him for it. I think having Nicole ride him for a bit is a good idea and you getting more confidence on another horse like Moiya is great too. Knock off the rust and soon you will both be working together like before.

  7. It must be something in the air…. Paloma… who is never a kicker, cow kicked at my leg this last week at least a dozen times when I asked her to do things she didn’t want to. Ie- leave the herd and trail solo.
    And a friend’s usual been there, done it gelding lost his cookies, took off with her and dropped down to roll on her. WTF.

    It is not just you! Misery in numbers?

  8. ugh how frustrating!!! glad you’re ok physically 🙁 i agree with the others – it was a naughty move that probably stems from Miles not wanting to get back into work… some rides from your BFF will undoubtedly help tho, and major kudos for getting a little mad about it. unfortunately sometimes that’s what it takes.

  9. My old gelding used to do that- if I asked for a long spot he would take it, but then land crow-hopping and throw general naughtiness my way. It was super disconcerting until I figured out how to sit and press him forward out of it. It stinks that he pulled it on you again, but I’m glad you rode through him doing it and got a feel for how to stop those antics!

  10. Ugh, the worst! And I so can relate to that paralyzing fear when something like that happens. Its terrible. Good on you for hopping back on and giving Miles an attitude adjustment. Sometimes, horses are the worst

  11. Don’t feel bad getting psyched out about a crossrail. In this last year riding my greenie I’ve had many an internal conversation with myself of that nature. In his learning, Knigh’ts waaay over jumped small fences and it’s too exhilarating for this old lady. He’s still figuring it all out and improving, but there have been lessons where all we worked on was an X or Xs. Things will get better for you and Miles . I promise.

  12. Hugs! I feel for you and hope everything comes together for you. You and Miles have been a great team and I know you’ll get through this. Just let some brave young trainer uninstall this “No” button Miles seems to be trying to develop, and then get back to enjoying your boy!

  13. Awhh bad Miles! 🙁 Y’all will get through it, you’ve both come so far together as a team! Bumps in the road suck but they make us a better rider in the long run! Completely agree with L up there, don’t take it personally!

  14. Riding horses is a lot like life. There are good times when you canter, jump and trot and it’s perfect! Gives you a great natural high! Then there are bad times when you get thrown and are a little afraid to put yourself back out there. But, you must go on, get back on the horse, and try jumping again. Doesn’t matter if you’re 27 years-old or 49…we over come it, continue to train, and become a better rider for our experiences.

  15. Bad boy! I agree with what everyone else is saying. Don’t take it personal (I know that can be hard when our confidence takes a hit) he’s just protesting being back in work. Sounds like you have a good plan of attack for getting him and your partnership back on track.

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