I can honestly say this has been my best year with the big, grey thoroughbred. It didn't start out great. In fact this year was the closest I have ever been to getting rid of him completely. This spring started out horrifically. My first two attempts at riding him in April were heartbreaking. I say heartbreaking because my heart was broken knowing that it was probably best that I find him a new home. He was much too much horse for me and I was starting to believe that I was not the rider I thought I was. I always get nervous riding in the spring. North Dakota winters are cold, and I don't have access to indoor riding so basically Georgous sits at a round bale with his buddies getting fat. He loves it. I love watching him be fat and lazy. But spring comes, and it's time to ride and he is certain that he is in training for the Kentucky Derby.
That first attempt at a ride seemed like it was going well. I rode around the yard and he was nice and relaxed, so I told my husband that I was ready to go down the road. The ride was going well, and he was my same old sweet lazy pony. I thought "hey, maybe this year will be different than last year! Maybe he is growing up and we will have a great year!" no sooner did I finish that thought when he absolutely lost his damn mind. His head was flipped sideways, and he was basically licking his eye ball. He looked like a crazy horse. Like he lost his damn mind. I got freaked out based on the fact he was no longer listening to anything I had to say, and I hopped off. I started walking him in hand hoping that he would calm down. "NOT TODAY" he screamed! Well not screamed because well he is a horse, but he had that look on his stupid horse face. It was like I was flying a kite down the road. I've walked young thoroughbreds at the track that just finished their race and they have been less of a handful than he was at that moment. At this point I was crying. Big, sloppy ugly crying. I walked him half a mile then back home. He was pretty damn proud of himself. I felt like the biggest failure on earth.
The next time I attempted....same thing. Maybe even slightly worse. What happened to my horse? The same horse that went on awesome trail riding adventures with me? The lazy boy who was shocking everyone around us when they found out he was an ex racehorse because of how lazy he was on the trail. I was a failure and I was going to give up horses and riding forever. I was done. I put him away and locked myself in the bathroom and cried knowing that my husband wouldn't let me keep a horse I was too scared to ride. And I knew that I would never be able to ride him. He wasn't the horse for me. It was time to start looking for somewhere for him to go and I hated it. I hated myself. I hated George for not being Piney. I was miserable.
Flash forward a few weeks. We had sent Cash, our hot mess of a horse to the trainer. Cash has Navicular. He had been bucking at the lope last fall so we decided that he would go to the trainer this spring. We booked him a spot at the trainer we've had some great luck with. Prior to him going, we did a few chiropractic treatments with him, had him injected and put on his special shoes. We toted him up to the trainer and felt optimistic after we dropped him off. WELL, the trainer put 3 rides on him and then called my husband to let him know, that he was lame. Super lame. F-WORD!!! We talked to the trainer, and since we had a stall for a few more weeks, the husband and I decided that maybe George should go fill that stall. And fill that stall he did.
After the first ride, the trainer called my husband and said that he was not very optimistic about George ever being a trail horse. He did NOT like him. He really just didn't have anything nice to say about George and told my husband to maybe consider getting rid of him all together and finding something a bit slower. My heart was broken.
A week or so later the trainer called my husband with an update. "We finally got him to walk." apparently George had the need for speed and everyone was having a hell of a time just getting him to walk. In fact, I think they said at one point that George was terrifying because of how fast he was. George was also not a model student. He really made a name for himself at the barn. One day in his stall, he ripped down a sheet of plywood that made up the back wall. He also spent a few hours tied to the hitching post so he could learn some patience.... But they got him to walk calmly on the trail and they were going to keep working on him.
When George was ready to come home. I went to try him out with the trainer. I saddled him up and they sent us out the door on a little trail ride. He was still a bit hot, but he was walking 'calmish' and I was happy. So we brought him home and planned for his first test.... a trail riding weekend in one of my favorite places.
We ended up doing 20ish miles that weekend and other than a few 'melt downs' mostly over crossing bridges he did great. He was going to be a trail horse if it killed me.
|That's a good boy!|
|This bridge tried to eat him the day before.|