Last week was a tough one for me, and I realize now it’s because I was letting fear get the best of me.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of falling.
Fear of my son falling.
So many fearful thoughts, none of them bringing positive or confident energy into the barn or the arena. And I think Teddy sensed this shift, because we took a few steps backwards. He became anxious (I was anxious), was spooking at random things (I was anticipating the spooking), and just generally wasn’t his calm self (I wasn’t myself either). I’m sure some of his behavior was the lyme, but I think a lot of it was me too. Horses are herd animals, after all, and I was not being a good leader.
It’s time to stop being fearful. I will never have the relationship I want with Teddy – or become the equestrian I want to be – if I let fear hold us back.
Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.
The way I see it, there are two major areas that need consistent work if we want to reach our goal of having an amazing human-horse relationship.
Area 1: Teddy
- Lyme Disease – We treated Teddy in Nov 2017 for Lyme but a recent titer test came back positive for chronic Lyme. Because the MA vet who treated him originally never pulled his titers though (they treated him based on a 4DX snap test), we have nothing to compare his current numbers to. Have they gone down? Up? As a result, we’re going to wait another 8 weeks and see where his numbers are. If they are going down, then odds are the first treatment was successful. (My vet here in VT says that it can take up to 9 months for all of the antibodies to leave a horse’s system.) If his titers are the same or have gone up, we’ll treat him again. Lesson learned though: if a snap test comes back positive run those titers for a comparison down the road!
- Body Aches & Pains – During Teddy’s last vet appointment, we determined that he has a good deal of discomfort in his hocks. We’ve put him on Omegatin + 6,000 IU per day of Vitamin E to help his body deal with the stress of Lyme. He also had a chiropractic adjustment (his pole was out of alignment). We may also put him on either Adequan or Legend. I have some homework to do on these.
- Hooves – Shortly before Teddy joined our family a farrier visit went wrong and his feet were badly over trimmed. He initially had a lot of tenderness, but he’s been on Double Strength Farrier’s Formula for the past few months and has had two trimmings. His feet are already looking a lot better, which is awesome.
- Weight Loss – When we got Teddy he was 100lbs overweight. He’s down 30lbs so far, and has about 70lbs to go according to my vet. We’re taking it slow here and I anticipate it will take quite some time before he is back to a healthy weight. He’s one of those horses who gets fat on air. 🙂 In the meantime he is getting lots of walk/trot work and is on a healthy diet.
- Re-Training – Last night I spoke with the woman who had Teddy before his last owner. She is a trainer who had him for ~4 years and she said Teddy used to do low level dressage and jumping! He was nearly bombproof too, so the personality we are looking for is in him we just have to be patient. Our trainer is putting 3 rides on him a week, while Finn and I are taking lessons on another horse. We are also going to experiment with using a hackamore instead of a snaffle bit since his former owner said he used to lean into the bit with her too, but she had success with the hackamore.
Area 2: Me
- Practice Being Present – My mind is often my greatest hurdle when I ride. I overthink things both in terms of what every part of my body should be doing, and what could possibly go wrong. I know this is true because my best ride ever happened when I hadn’t slept the previous night and was too tired to overthink everything! I’m adding daily meditation into my daily routine and will make a habit out of being present. I need to stop holding myself back.
- Increase My Fitness – I thought I was a reasonably fit person. I workout 4-5 days a week with a mix of weights and cardio. But you know what? It’s not enough! In order to become the kind of rider I want to be, I need to kick things up a notch. I signed up for the Tone It Up nutrition program and am adding heavier weights + longer, more intense cardio to my routine. I need to be strong enough in my legs and core to slow my post even if Mr. Teddy is zoning out at a super fast trot.
- Continue Relationship Building – I read a quote the other day that said true horsemanship is about your horse learning to trust you more than his instincts. I love that, and I can see the truth in it because the more time I spend with Teddy the better it gets. Since he’s in training right now I haven’t been riding him, but I do go out daily to groom him and work with him on the lunge line. We’ve made an incredible amount of progress! Yesterday I was so pleased to see how keenly he was listening to my cues. His head was down, he was licking his lips, and overall seemed like a happy guy. I think once he’s feeling better physically this time we’re taking to build our relationship is going to blossom into something even more special.
So long story somewhat short, we have a lot of work today. But I think the journey is going to be amazing.