Sunday 3 April 2022

Outside My Comfort Zone

 Sophie’s back!

Feedback from the trainer and barn owners was super positive, very complimentary of her and the job I’ve done so far. Really nice to hear that - while I am well aware of my limitations and don’t have a ton of pride or things I need to prove (baby horses fix that right quick!) it of course matters greatly to me that I do right by my horses and for that reason I was holding a little anxiety around things.

 As is the way of the coast and adding to my current love/hate relationship with it, the ferries caused us humans some anxiety - reservations are fully booked forever and livestock doesn’t get priority anymore. So, we needed to get to the terminal 2 hours early to ensure we got the first free space and then cross our fingers hard we got on the sailing. I hate doing that to the horses, but Sophie was quiet as a mouse and patient. On the actual crossing we experienced some weather in the open part of the strait. It felt like a roller coaster - that moment of the floor falling away, then a big stop and boom as we hit the bottom of the next wave. Again, not ideal, but grateful the crew made the run and didn’t leave us stranded overnight or longer. Yesterday the weather was picking up further and today it’s a full on storm, so we did good to get them home when we did. Anyway,  Sophie was a champ - it made me wonder how much horses must tolerate simply riding around in the trailer if a boat ride like that was no big deal for her! 

Less than ideal scheduling meant we got home Friday night, then had a clinic Saturday.

The clinic experience was a bit “meh” from me. My full thoughts are still forming, but at it’s most basic, my horse did not feel like my horse anymore. I found that confidence denting and let anxiety take over a little and didn’t ride to the best of my ability. Also, it poured rain and the wind was freezing. Cold and wet T is grumpy and that may or may not affect my overall feelings about the day😁

Sophie’s naturally a pretty forward, sensitive ride and runs a little on the hot and excitable side. I honestly prefer something a bit more steady, so I’ve encouraged her to to be a little quieter than she’d maybe want to be. We have a nice comfort zone where she’s forward but we agree it’s on my timeline and there is no need for her to worry or anticipate. 

When I hopped on and Sophie was literally vibrating with energy and shooting off my leg, I realized trainer does not ride in that way all all and probably enjoys a very high level of responsiveness and energy.

It was interesting in a way because it was reminiscent of an upper level dressage horse I used to ride…hot,  responsive to your every move, and bringing 110% effort to everything. The slightly terrifying (for me, at least!) difference with Sophie is that she’s not got years of training so I had all the big reactions but no solid place to direct it. I have a lack of confidence in letting her really go for it when her brain and body is working twice as fast as mine feels like it is.

Do you get any riding pics? No. The rain was torrential and understandably no one was standing around to volunteer pics in that! 

On the plus side, I did brave a canter and it felt fantastic and way more adjustable than it did. So, while I admittedly did not enjoy that quickness of her feet and mind in walk and trot, it improves the canter - it’s much neater and more uphill.

The nice thing about horses is that we all know it takes no time at all for them to adjust to their rider. I’m sure her anxiety levels (sadly, with the addition of all that forward, IMO the relaxation is now needing to be revisited) will go back down with a few more rides, but this has made me aware I could be asking for a little more, that a little more energy wouldn’t be a bad thing at this point. 

Side note, if you’re wondering…yes she was there to go trail riding and see the world for a couple of weeks, and yes, she did. I promised myself I’d trust the trainer, I’ve known him for years and he always does a fantastic job… but he probably felt like she was a little on the dull side while my current head space and riding ability begs to differ.



  1. I can't believe she's back already! It felt like she just left. :)

    Trainers do like a responsive and forward horse. I totally get where you're coming from- Jane is trying to get us happy with forward and now shut her down. It's hard.

    1. So hard! Thanks for commiserating, I wasn't sure I'd worded it as well as I could have but you've summed it up exactly - the forward I am happy with is not the forward trainer is happy with.

  2. It's always weird having someone tune up your horse for you. Hopefully you can keep the benefits and drop the hypersensitivity. The nice thing is her boundaries have been expanded in a positive way.

    1. I'm really hopeful the stay at a new and very busy place with the expectation of going right to work will help me immensely with her first shows. We've done 'away' clinics and travel but I've previously struggled with her being anxious and distracted. The hypersensitivity needs to go though, it's ridiculous...she's got a lovely walk but we spent most of the time jigging and hopping around this weekend.

  3. well the weather had to play a part in all that nervousness and anxiety so I am sure you guys will be fine!! YAY you got her back now though :)

    1. Yes, cold rain and wind certainly couldn't have helped. Another horse was really unhappy and really losing it so I'm proud at least that she kept a lid on her feelings over that and trusted me to look after her. I'm giving her a couple of days off to decompress and will try to set up a nice easy outing mid week.

  4. The weather for your clinic sounded miserable for both of you. I bet in a couple days you will find that happy medium with Sophie.