Monday, October 31, 2016

Re-Teaching, Re-Learning

You know, I really had every intention of writing this post about 2 weeks ago. I even had plans to share multiple posts within that 2 week window.

But then my computer died. Thanks, Windows. (NOT.)

And so I spent an inordinate amount of time backing up my files and trying different ways to get the computer going again. Tech wizard I am not, but apprentice I am. I successfully found my way around some tech forums and various tech sites and managed to completely back up all of my things, wipe my harddrive, and do a clean reinstall.

And so, the various burgeoning posts I've had under wraps throughout this technological debacle will be bursting forth in the next week or so. I am excited to get back to writing and photo editing.

: : : : :

I love having Stan back in my life. I don't think I get the opportunity to really express that as much as I'd like.

Stan is unchanged. He's older and there are a few more white hairs in places (dramatic flank roaning especially which leads me to wonder if he's got some sabino or rabicano influencing the change), but he's very much the Stan I remember riding so much from 2005 - 2011 (particular emphasis 2005-2007).

Orange was his color before it was Q's

I, on the other hand, have changed leaps and bounds mentally and physically since our former riding days. I am a far better rider and an infinitely better horseperson than I was years ago. I have so many more tools available to me to develop a horse and troubleshoot through issues. I'm so grateful for the things I have learned [and continue to learn] because I am able to set up a program up to bring Stan back into higher fitness levels that is tailored to what he needs physically.

Unfortunately, in my journey forward to the person I am today, I've picked up a lot of new fears. When I last rode Stan a significant amount, I had no fear. I was cautious of him after he bucked me off that one time, but I wasn't fearful. Life's trials and tribulations have introduced more hesitancy and fear into me since then. Riding and training a green horse and a very spooky horse have especially taken a toll! The thought of galloping pell mell through a field at the highest possible speed makes my stomach clench up a little bit. Q's teleporting and sudden stopping at any speed has taught me an extraordinary amount of caution in my every endeavor on horseback.

Pink is decidedly NOT his color.

Stan is teaching me to release fears I've built up. And while I'm not going to be the quickest study, I am learning. It is so grounding to re-learn these things.

My solo rides off property with Stan are infrequent at best right now, but each one has been absolutely wonderful. It is beyond refreshing to ride a horse who doesn't spook at every little thing. Who doesn't even flick an ear at half of the things that would send Q into contemplative terror. He knows his job, he trusts his rider, and he motors down the trail.

Plant/leaves vastly contrasting in color from surroundings? Who cares! Deer flushing and their subsequent flight through crinkly fallen leaves? NBD.

But for both boys, who needed blankets, pink was what was on sale! So TOUGH.

Stan isn't spookless! He definitely notices things, but he processes them, and moves onward. He will break into a slower gait, give something a wider berth or an extra look, and even balk a bit, but he doesn't tense up and feel about to explode (as Q or Griffin may) when he does have his moments. He also does not dwell on things that caused him concern at all. He notes it, may or may not react, and moves on. He doesn't do what Q - and Griffin to a lesser extent - does and let whatever caused alarm create reason to then find imminent danger in every small thing in the environment. I can absolutely trust Stan to get over things and focus back on the work at hand without worrying he'll build up more apprehension.

I mean, what even? Helmet-less and galloping pell mell through a field? Fearless.

And speed! I'm learning to enjoy and trust a fast moving horse again. Stan remembers that field work with me means galloping. Galloping a lot. And so, when I get him on the flat where there is good footing, son moves OUT. Field workouts at home (3 laps = a mile) are blazing fast on Stan. With time, we'll do more trotting, but right now it is nigh impossible to keep him slower than a hand gallop when we work in that field! (My arms and shoulders were SO SORE from my efforts to keep him slower the first time.) And so, the workouts are shorter and faster for the time being.

That first ride was kind of terrifying, honestly. He was racing SO FAST around that field. But he remembers me and he remembers that being Our Thing ten years (!!) ago. I had to remind myself of that constantly. He's not going to spook and dump you. He's doing the job he remembers. You're okay. You're not gonna fall and tumble into a fiery crash. can't even spontaneously burst into flame falling of a horse anyway! Ride balanced, steady your lower leg and cement yourself into your two-point, it's fine. And it was. And it continues to be.

Let me take my nap, human, no photos, please!

I did 10 miles on the rail trail with Stan, too, recently. His first time ever on the rail trail - and solo to boot! He was definitely the most looky yet at things on the way out (highway overpass, big bulls, bridges, benches, and the token walker with a flappy poncho), but by the time we turned for home, everything was a non-issue. He was motivated by the whole "heading home" bit, but he was also accustomed to this new strange environment. He's a professional like that.

I had some great trot work from him for the first time on the rail trail, too. We get trot work trail riding, but flat areas with good footing = speed workouts in Stan's mind. And I understand why he behaves that way, so I haven't been nit picking him much about his speed because I know with time, he'll slow down.

Rail trailin' like a BOSS.

I recognize that working with Stan is 110% NOT working with Griffin or with Q. There are certainly parallels, but there are far more unique differences. He isn't green, he's just coming out of several years of inactivity. He also has a vastly different temperament than either of my other two. Thus, I can allow him a lot of liberties that I wouldn't with Q or Griffin as I put him back into work (see: working in wide open spaces & allowing him to move out because I know he will slow down).

I know this horse so well. He isn't a green horse by any means, though he is green to jumping and dressage. I know that he knows correct answers, he just hasn't been asked a lot of questions in awhile. So instead of being so structured with our general fitness workouts and trying to correct every tiny thing, I'm being patient. I know that time will resolve a lot of the issues (speed, willingness to accept contact, willingness to lend his focus wholly to work and not show interest in his herd) we have right now. And we'll build on more structure when we focus on green-to-him subjects like dressage and jumping.  Everything will fall neatly into place as it's meant to with our training regiment.

Shitty lighting, but I think we can all respect how much better his neck is looking already (mohawk aside).

While I am still floored and disappointed over Q's suspensory injury and nervous about what it may or may not entail for the future, I am still trying to see things as positively as possible. By the time I have the opportunity to work with Q again, my headspace will be infinitely more confident and relaxed from my time spent with Stan. This is exactly what Q will need. I know she's got the ability to be a calmer ride (she used to be a much calmer ride), I just have to be able to support her and that means having a calmer headspace about all under saddle work.

Stan's reappearance has been very well-timed. It is so grounding to have him re-teaching me confidence and fearlessness in certain aspects of my riding. I am so grateful to have him back in my life.<3


  1. Cliche to say that everything happens for a reason, but sometimes it does. Glad you're enjoying Stan, he looks like a sweetheart!

    1. Cliché but SO TRUE! He's a doll.

    2. I'm with Leah. Sometimes the timing on Life Events is just uncanny. I'm glad you have Stan with you now - you're both so good for each other!

  2. horses can actually move forward down the trail at speed without zig zagging, turning 180 degree out of no where or slamming on the brakes??? What is this you speak of???

    1. Fascinating, I know! The sad thing is, Q used to be that way before 2014 when I ruined her due to a lot of bad headspace. Been working to get back to that ever since.

  3. Oh, Stan! What a lovely, beautiful, perfect gift you are! <3

  4. When you are done with Stan can I borrow him? Having a horse that teleports is not good for confidence!

    1. Haha, absolutely. I wish there were programs to let people borrow horses like him to help build confidence.

  5. <3 Stan!! there's nothing quite as liberating as a reliable and trustworthy partner that you can just LET GO and be free with! that was such a massively important underpinning in my relationship with isabel, and i hope to be as lucky as you in developing that same relationship with charlie!!

    1. You'll totally get there with Charlie. He has that vibe about him <3

  6. I'm so happy you have Stan back in your life. I get flack for competing non-Arabs but seriously: this right here is why. The non-Arab brain. I'll take the longer recoveries at holds in exchange for getting to enjoy the darn trail. :) Lily is for me now what Stan has always been for you. <3

    1. Moniet and Steel both take offense to that :-P

    2. Yeah -- I didn't realize how cautious I'd become! Or I guess how second-nature that caution was. The only time it really surfaces is when high speeds are involved. I only gallop full force on Q and Griffin when I've got a hill in front of me. Flat land speed intimidates me. After Q flipped me neatly over her head when she saw an offensive tree and slammed on the brakes from a lovely canter I've been hesitant to go fast in nice places!

  7. When I first saw your ear shots on Instagram, I didn't remember that you had Stan and thought he was Q at first. LOL. I'm glad you have him back, and especially right now. I relate to this entry so much. I look at pictures of myself galloping bareback and bridleless with no fear, and wonder what happened to that rider. I'm glad Stan is able to help you get some of your bravery back. That is what Moniet did for me this year. My rough starts with Magic last year really took a toll. I hadn't even realized how much of one! Moniet was just what I needed to get over that, and riding him has carried over into my confidence on other horses. I hope that Stan will do the same for you. When he does, I am sure both of your other ponies will benefit immensely.

    1. I'm with you on not realizing how much I'd changed until I had the "old norm" back. It baffles me. Grateful for the opportunity to start over with myself though.

  8. So neat that you have him back and are enjoying him!

  9. Just nothing like a confidence building safe old buddy!! Blaze is that for me, and Kenny on his way to the same