It's been a pretty terrible winter this year. We didn't get many opportunities to ride, even with and indoor arena. I believe our snow total for the year is 85 or 86", which puts us in the 2nd snowiest winter on record for our state. When the roads were good enough to drive, there was so much snow on the arena roof, that they closed it for fear of collapse. Once the owners were able to clear the snow from the ends of arena roof, the center ripped open from the weight of the snow and ice. Now, picture trying to ride inside with a big piece of canvas blowing over our head. I didn't mind so much, but you can imagine how Mr. Sensitive felt about it. So we were restricted to "unbreezy" days to ride indoors. I dropped from riding 3x a week to 1 time a week if I was lucky, and stuck to lunging him for the most part.
Fast forward to spring.....now we have mud and lots of it. The outdoor arena is finally cleared - yippee! I've only managed to ride once a week the past couple of weeks. What a great feeling to be riding outdoors again.
Yesterday after work I headed to the barn and got G tacked up for a ride. We had the arena to ourselves which was a real treat! G was doing great, he felt loose, he was yielding smoothly, side passing right and left and I was happy to find that even being out of practice he still had his moves. Ater about 15 minutes I felt him tighten up, his head swiveled looking over to the next property and he just stopped dead. I had my iPod on softly so I took one ear piece out and I could hear voices of kids yelling. Before I could think the words "what the heck" G spun and started to head toward the arena gate. I doubled him and asked for a circle. He was tight and not listening. I asked for him to stop and stand as I wanted to figure out what was going on. The voices got louder, he started backing up. I asked him to move forward, he side passed. He was snorting, jigging, and he wouldn't stand still. All of a sudden two kids come running up to the backside of the arena and they're yelling "willie" or "billie" not sure which and I yelled "stop yelling you're scaring my horse". Well all of a sudden from the side yard comes this medium size black dog who looks like he's running for his life. He ran straight through the arena, not paying us much mind. Well G was paying a whole lot of mind, and I'm asking him to stand which he won't, so I decide to keep him moving forward at least. Nope, he jigged, he side passed; completly blowing off my cues. Meantime the kids are still yelling, one of them running along side the arena yelling for the dog, the dog is flying all over the place, and all I want is G to stop for one second so I can dismount. One of the fellow boarders who had been in her car hopped out and tried to help the kid corral the dog. I've never seen a dog run so fast and pay zero attention to its owner. Of course I have to yell "where the heck is his leash....if he runs into the road, you're going to be minus one dog". What was I thinking? I'm not, I'm reacting and being a bitch. But the barn is on a major commuter road and the cars travel on average at 50 mph. This dog will stand no chance if he makes it out there. Why do parents let kids handle dogs that aren't trained? So now I'm uptight, really uptight; G's still moving his feet and I make another attempt to ask him to stand. He starts to back up faster than I've ever felt him and for the first time ever, I felt him start to rear. I made one more attempt to push him forward, and when he did I popped my right foot out of the stirrup and pushed myself off him. He stopped still. The head pops up and he starts snorting like something is out to kill him, he starts spinning right and left as I'm holding the reins and I'm trying to talk calmly to bring him down. Zip, in comes the dog again and starts it all over again. The dog now discovers G and starts rnning back and forth behind him barking at him. Great, it was like a three ring circus. The next thing I see is the dog running down the drive toward the road, with the little boy chasing it....never chase a running dog, it will just keep running. I didn't hear any squealing tires and it got quiet so I figured maybe they caught him. Katie comes into the arena and starts talking to G in this wonderfully soft voice, "oh what a brave horse you are G, that was a big bad dog wasn't it" G's getting calmer, and I'm thinking to myself, "why can't I be that soft and gentle - that's exactly what G needs". Katie left and I walked G around the arena for about 10 minutes, he finally lowered his head and took a couple of heavy sighs. I decided I'd remount and just walk him around for a couple of minutes and then call it a day. Everything was fine for all of about two minutes until we got to the backside of the arena where the kids had popped out initially and he tried to bolt again. We jigged, I asked him to soften and circle, he started to sidepass, I ask for a circle again, and kept circling til we got to the gate where I didn't wait for a stop this time, I just hopped off. I opened the gate and G ran into my shoulder. This was the final straw and where I lost it, I backed him up 10 feet and then jogged him into the barn where I stripped off his tack and roughly walked him into his stall. I can't remember the last time I've felt such anger, it wasn't pretty and looking back its as if I lost all control of my wits. When I went to remove his bridle he raised his head as high as it would go with this wild eyed look. I know this look, it's fear, yet it didn't stop me from yelling at him and backing him into the corner to remove the bridle. I called him Alpo, I told him I was through, and that this was the last time I would deal with his assinine behaviour. I shut the stall door, put all my stuff away and walked away. When I shut the barn door the last thing I saw was G's head hanging over the stall door, still waiting for his treat. He has no clue of what just transpired. I got into my car and the tears started to roll down my cheeks. As mad as I was at G for over-reacting, I was four times madder at myself for losing control. All that I've worked so hard for, any amount of trust, just shattered in 20 minutes. I started to drive and the tears continued to flow.
Today was a perfect example of why I feel I'm not the right person for G. He deserves someone who is a relaxed soul, someone who knows how to maintain control at all times; someone who recognizes in themselves when its time to back away. Someone who can connect to G's soul and gain 100% of his trust, in a way that I don't think I ever can. What scared me the most was that going into the ride I felt totally relaxed. I didn't feel any stress whatsoever. Where this anger came from was deep and it was scary. I still don't understand where it came from, but I do know that I didn't like it or me at that moment, and I still don't. I can only hope he can forgive me.