Do you ever wonder 'what if'?

_jetset_

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I took Grace out competing yesterday and she was a real monster in the collecting ring. Every time she felt my leg or I flicked her up with the whip she would buck and kick out at me
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She felt really quite tense and I found it hard to actually 'ride' her in the test. This resulted in a meesly 61.89% which I was really disappointed with because I know she can do so much more than that!

It got me thinking back to this time last year... she qualified for the Petplan Finals at Prelim and Novice in August with 69% in the Prelim, and 65% in the Novice
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I cannot help but wonder where we would be up to now if she had not damaged her suspensory and underwent colic surgery
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I am trying to stay upbeat about her as I promised myself I would, but she never got below 65% at Prelim before and it is pretty hard to find her being so low in the table. This was her second competition since coming back, and I have one booked for Saturday to see how she gets on.

Has anyone else any experiences of what a horse was achieving before a long period of time off compared to how they came back?

And has anyone else ever sat thinking 'what if' in this kind of situation?
 

AutumnRose

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Hmmmm i try to stay away from the 'what if's' or it be easy to think about nothing else.

I do regularly think 'what if she had a better rider' though.....most times i ride her actually!!!
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BBs

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All the time.
If Winston hadnt got ringbone when we were starting to event at Novice, maybe 2 years later he'd be Intermediate?
The sport is full of IF ONLYs, you just get on with it. Winston now does dressage instead, although is starting to do more and more jumping now we have a really good surface at the new yard.
He is even entered for a Hunter Trial, as long as the ground is good, and Im looking at possibly entering him for some Intros unaffilated next year for fun.

Its all a bit of a rollercoaster, you just have to learn to pick yourself up and dust yourself down, take the rough with the smooth.

Somedays are crap, somedays are great its life.

Grace will be back to her oldself in no time
 

OliveOyl

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Are your expectations of her relative to what she can actually do now, given she recently had another bout of sick leave? or are you expecting her to be the same as she was a year ago?
That's not meant to be a criticism at all and know how frustrating it can be when you get them up to a level and they go off sick again then you have to build them back up again whilst everyone else seems to be progressing forwards., whilst you have to keep doing over the same ground.

My mare had the whole winter off and it took me at least 3 months to get her anything like back in full work, then we did really low key stuff to get her enjoying it all again as she found it quite hard to cope with a day out at first. But she's now back better than ever before mainly because I think I've taken the pressure off us both as I'm just pleased to have her back at all. My previous horse had the same injury as yours and never did come back to ridden work.
 

Madam_max

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I'm not talking about flatwork as bless her with those legs she ain't no dressage diva, I mean more from a jumping point of view as she can jump the moon and has had a successful career already (just not with me
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) as I am a wimp
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H-J

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As said by people above the sport is full of 'what ifs'

Probably because we are working with animals and not machines! Im thinking now what if Dexter hadnt have gone lame hopefully we would have got that elusive rosette and points at novice and be entered into my 1st IN, but just wasnt meant to be this yr, just have to stay positive for 2009
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harrihjc

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yes, last summer my boy was consistently jumping 2ft9 double clears with ease, then he had 2 months off with a mystery lameness, and we're yet to get back to a level where I feel I can even take him out jumping a 2ft 6 course, when we went to do a clear round at that height he either refused or knocked down every single jump! We had planned on going BSJA by last winter, I doubt we'll even make it this year! On the plus side tho, I think his flatwork has improved
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_jetset_

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I don't know what I expected of her and me yesterday, more than 61.89% at Prelim though that is something I am pretty certain of because I felt so disappointed
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I know she is tight on the left rein, and we are trying to solve the issue, but I also want to keep getting her out so we don't have a performance like yesterday every time we compete
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I would say she has come back much more sensitive than she went out of work, which I find very strange. Before I could give her a good reminder with the whip and that would be that, but now if I so much as lightly flick her up she is bucking and kicking out
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If she had not gone lame, we would have gone to the Finals at Hartpury and then probably be competing at Elementary and have done the summers at Novice
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She is entered for the Prelim and Novice on Saturday, not so much because I want her out competing at Novice because I do not think she is strong enough yet, but more to see whether she improves in her behaviour having been put back on the horsebox and brought out for the second class
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It is a shame, there are very few venues that do two Prelim tests, as that would be ideal.
 

Tempi

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[ QUOTE ]
Has anyone else any experiences of what a horse was achieving before a long period of time off compared to how they came back?

[/ QUOTE ]

I think Dolendo is a prime example of a horse who had a long period off - i think im right in saying he had 8months off (something to do with tendon?) then came back and won his first competition then went on to win the national title with Spencer last year......
 

_jetset_

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I hear so many stories of horses coming back better than ever, but I am just not seeing or feeling that at the moment
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I feel she has come back so damned sensitive and slightly opinionated whereas before she would just do anything to please the rider.
 

wench

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I always wonder "what if" my horse wasnt so horrible at times. Some days he can be perfect at competitions, others he a monster,
 

Stoxx

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I can't think 'what if'. If I did i think I would torture myself. I didn't have the best news from the hospital last week but I had already entered for our first outing in 11 months so I went along. We didn't do very well but I thoroughly enjoyed myself, there was a time when I didn't think that day would ever come and there I was proving myself wrong!

Take the pressure off of yourself and just enjoy doing things with her that you didn't think might ever happen again. Once she is back into the swing of it all again the scores will come.
 

Halfstep

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Yes. If Oskar hadn't smashed himself up - TWICE - he could be well on his way to PSG by now. However, he is such a monster and can be quite unpredictable, who knows.
 

only_me

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I think my horse plans his injuries so he gets time off - he seems to come back into work in a better frame of mind!!
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just wish he wouldnt do it just as the eventing season started...
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lol

I wonder what he would be like if he hadnt got cast quite badly in July and did something to his back and if he had just spent 2 weeks in the field instead of at eventing yard where he just hacked out.

and if that eventer had him im certain he would be at 2** by now
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dosent help when certain eventer really rates him and im still at PN
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AandK

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echo what everyone has said about the horse world being full of what if's..!! one example - Zara Phillips, what if Toytown had not gone lame before Athens and now Bejing.?? Could be be a gold medalist.?? oh so many what if's..
what if Andy hadn't done his suspensory, would we have made the step up to Novice in September as planned.?? (silly to make plans, i know.!) what if he doesn't come sound again??
at the moment i am enjoying spending the time with him, lots of walking and lots and lots of mucking out.!!! just hoping that he is healing well.. all will tell in Oct when he is re-scanned..

i also often wonder 'what if he had a better rider' but he is stuck with me so that solves that one.!!!
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H-J

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[ QUOTE ]
I hear so many stories of horses coming back better than ever, but I am just not seeing or feeling that at the moment
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I feel she has come back so damned sensitive and slightly opinionated whereas before she would just do anything to please the rider.

[/ QUOTE ]

At least you have her though - many of us have lost our beloved horses and cant have them back, id do anything to have Golly back even if he was being an opininated monkey!
 

MillbrookSong

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Quote:
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I hear so many stories of horses coming back better than ever, but I am just not seeing or feeling that at the moment I feel she has come back so damned sensitive and slightly opinionated whereas before she would just do anything to please the rider.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Think song is one of those hes come back better than every but i think that might be somthing to do with me as well - being so pleased to have a horse with 4 legs still not 3!!
 

OliveOyl

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Mine is one of the "better than ever" stories if you like, but she wasn't like that during the first few months of her back to work campaign, it took a lot of gentle persuasion and building up to full fitness to get us there. It sounds like you're still in the coming back phase, be patient, it will come.
If it had been you off with a broken leg (I know she didn't break her leg, for example purposes only!
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), you wouldn't expect that to work the same as it did before you broke it. it's the same with her, she's got to build it all back up again. Yes she's been signed off as sound, but still needs to get everything as strong as it was before.
 

catembi

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There is no point thinking 'if only' with horses cos they're full of if onlys. If only I hadn't done an extra jump yest by accident, I'd have won some money. If only Catembi hadn't got so ill & died, maybe I'd be jumping foxhunters by now. Or maybe he'd have done a tendon playing in the field & would currently be on box rest. Who knows.

You have to play with the cards you're dealt. If you don't feel that your horse can fulfil your riding ambition, you need to decide whether you're going to accept her as she is now or buy something else that you think will match your riding abilities.
 

_jetset_

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The thing is, I know she can fulfill those ambitions, she moves beautifully and is something quite special if only I can keep her on four legs
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I guess I just need to crack on and carry on as I am doing... Hopefully by getting her out a bit more she will lose the tightness when out competing (this is not there at home) and perhaps start to relax a little again. I just don't remember her needing a few outings before, she took it all in her stride
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SAMgirl

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[ QUOTE ]
I hear so many stories of horses coming back better than ever, but I am just not seeing or feeling that at the moment I feel she has come back so damned sensitive and slightly opinionated whereas before she would just do anything to please the rider.

[/ QUOTE ]
Hiya Becki,
I could be waayy off the mark, but a bit of food for thought, maybe...
You have said in your last few posts, how you feel you haven't been pushing her so much, pulling her up quickly and generally backing off her. You may have this mindset better now at home, but is it really truly gone? Do you ride exactly! as you did before? Is it not there at all now, even a tiny bit?
I only ask because even if your backing off her a fraction at home, this will be magnified away from home. Throw in a little bit of tension, and tada! This is not hard and fast, I could be wrong (it does happen very occasionally lol).
TBH she is possibly taking the P at home still a little bit, doing what's required but say working to 90%? - She maybe going well, but are you really working her to maximum power at home, firing on all cylinders etc?
OR
It could just be that judge on that day - as is dressage really!!
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I'm sure you'll be back on form in no time - prob saturday!!
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dressagecrazy

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I hate to say this & i hope i dont offend but i think your being to hard on yourself & the Mare. My horse ended up with 12 months off not because he was ill but because he had taken to Napping & rearing so badly. Which beleive me is more frustrating than if he had done damage to himself. I never thought he would be ridden again never mind compete.

I started him off again under saddle after months of Groundwork in August 07. I started properly dressage training him again in Jan 08, i didnt even get to a comp until March because he wasnt ready.
He did qualify Summers In Prelim & novice & i was mega proud. But i didnt expect it.

Just let Grace off the hook a bit it's all new to her again & now she feels good & well. Take your time & ease her in gently don't even worry about scores for a few months, your back on & riding her isnt that what counts in the long run??

It will come good but it wont if your constantly pressurising her to be what she was!!
 

SAMgirl

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[ QUOTE ]
I hate to say this & i hope i dont offend but i think your being to hard on yourself & the Mare. My horse ended up with 12 months off not because he was ill but because he had taken to Napping & rearing so badly. Which beleive me is more frustrating than if he had done damage to himself. I never thought he would be ridden again never mind compete.

I started him off again under saddle after months of Groundwork in August 07. I started properly dressage training him again in Jan 08, i didnt even get to a comp until March because he wasnt ready.
He did qualify Summers In Prelim & novice & i was mega proud. But i didnt expect it.

Just let Grace off the hook a bit it's all new to her again & now she feels good & well. Take your time & ease her in gently don't even worry about scores for a few months, your back on & riding her isnt that what counts in the long run??

It will come good but it wont if your constantly pressurising her to be what she was!!

[/ QUOTE ]

Hiya Dressagecrazy,
Becki isn't being hard on Grace at all - there is nothing wrong with being disappointed - when I'm sure Becki as Graces owner and rider knows and feels her horse can do these tests in her sleep, really! And believe me, I KNOW how frustrating this situation is!!
That's really great about your horse too but napping is massively different to this. I am sure you can appreciate that napping is more of a mental issue - and one of those things that "take as long as it takes" to sort.
Grace has had an physical injury, she is now fully recovered and there is no reason she should start being a madam at shows (no more than before) - obviously we may forgive the first couple (excitement/nerves), but as a rider it is important you do NOT let this behaviour escalate - and just blame it on the fact she's been off work for X number of months/weeks/years.

ETA - Becki I'm not suggesting that this behaviour will escalate btw,
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just trying to illustrate that maybe because of all you have been through you took it a little bit easier on her. Sometimes (particularly with mares) a bit more pressure to engage their massive brains (lol) can work to your advantage - the opposite as a nappy horse you want NO pressure at first at all.
 

pinktiger

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you have both been through so much,, it isnt really that long ago either, your both recovering and getting back into it, am sure you will be there again,,, try not to look back, only look forward!!! and 61% on a tense horse is quite good (is still a point at novice level!!!!
 

dressagecrazy

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[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
I hate to say this & i hope i dont offend but i think your being to hard on yourself & the Mare. My horse ended up with 12 months off not because he was ill but because he had taken to Napping & rearing so badly. Which beleive me is more frustrating than if he had done damage to himself. I never thought he would be ridden again never mind compete.

I started him off again under saddle after months of Groundwork in August 07. I started properly dressage training him again in Jan 08, i didnt even get to a comp until March because he wasnt ready.
He did qualify Summers In Prelim & novice & i was mega proud. But i didnt expect it.

Just let Grace off the hook a bit it's all new to her again & now she feels good & well. Take your time & ease her in gently don't even worry about scores for a few months, your back on & riding her isnt that what counts in the long run??

It will come good but it wont if your constantly pressurising her to be what she was!!

[/ QUOTE ]

Hiya Dressagecrazy,
Becki isn't being hard on Grace at all - there is nothing wrong with being disappointed - when I'm sure Becki as Graces owner and rider knows and feels her horse can do these tests in her sleep, really! And believe me, I KNOW how frustrating this situation is!!
That's really great about your horse too but napping is massively different to this. I am sure you can appreciate that napping is more of a mental issue - and one of those things that "take as long as it takes" to sort.
Grace has had an physical injury, she is now fully recovered and there is no reason she should start being a madam at shows (no more than before) - obviously we may forgive the first couple (excitement/nerves), but as a rider it is important you do NOT let this behaviour escalate - and just blame it on the fact she's been off work for X number of months/weeks/years.

ETA - Becki I'm not suggesting that this behaviour will escalate btw,
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just trying to illustrate that maybe because of all you have been through you took it a little bit easier on her. Sometimes (particularly with mares) a bit more pressure to engage their massive brains (lol) can work to your advantage - the opposite as a nappy horse you want NO pressure at first at all.

[/ QUOTE ]

I wasnt meaning to offend Becki, im well aware of whats happend with Grace. I gues what im saying has been taken the wrong way!!
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What i was saying is with any horse no matter whats been wrong it still takes as long as it takes for both horse & rider to feel comfortable again & be able to settle with each other after a long period off work. I doubt many of us could just venture out after bringing there horse back & get good results.
 

TarrSteps

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You really need to stop investing so much emotionally and personally in your horses. Sorry if that sounds mean but honestly, it's counterproductive and just taking a lot more out of both of you than needs to be.

You can't "expect" or "forgive" or anything else horses. They aren't letting us down or doing us wrong or trying to wind us up or not living up to expectations, they are just being themselves and doing what they do in any given situation, without planning or forethought. Absolutely, you can be disappointed in a situation and feel unhappy with a performance but it's not the horse that chose to go to a horse show so really, it's nothing to do with the horse how it goes.

As far as expecting horses to make straight line progress . . . whose reality is that? So long as they're going in the right direction that's about as much as anyone can expect. Heck, I don't make straight line progress in my own riding and I can a) be reasonably expected to be motivated, b) know where I'm going and c) think about it all day, every day if I want to. The horse just lives in the now.

I don't say that to be hippy dippy, I say that because it's an IMPORTANT part of training. Horses are organic, they change. MANY horses get "worse" as they get older (read this board - how many people "all of a sudden" have problems with a horse?) because things happen that affect the way they think, feel, and approach life. Things happen to them physically we can never pinpoint because they can't tell us. They get scared and hurt and upset in ways they people don't even seem to notice sometimes. They're not TRYING to act badly, they're RE-acting. I'M not the same as I was when I was 20, physically or mentally. Somethings are better, some are worse - why should horses be held to a higher standard?

Ride the horse you've got.

If you think you don't have the horse you "should" because there's a problem and you can fix it (saddle, health etc), great. If not, then accept that things are as they are and move forward from here.

It sounds to me like your horse has every reason to be less comfortable and confident than she was. She's been through a lot of discomfort, she's had a lot of crappy things done to her by strangers, she's been kept away from her friends and the life she had, she's been treated differently, fed differently, managed differently . . .why would she be exactly the same? You can't erase, you can only move on.

There is no point beating yourself up. There is no point being "let down" or "disappointed" in the horse. Fine, you may feel this way - understandably - but seriously, try not to or at least try to stop the cycle when it starts. It only makes you frustrated and upset - which Grace can certainly feel but never understand. Best case scenario, it's not helping, worst case scenario it's contributing to her tension.

Sorry to be blunt but I think everyone in horses comes to this point eventually. And everyone makes different decisions. But it's never the horse's "fault" and thinking like that just takes what should be enjoyable (god knows, it costs enough!) and makes it miserable.

Love her for what she is, try to make her the best Grace she can be. Everything else will come.
 
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