Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Along Came a Bug(s)

When you are married to someone in the military deployments are a fact of life. Deployments suck. However, there are a few upsides to deployment. For me the best thing about it was being able to live close to home for a year something I hadn't done in several years. The other nice thing is you do make a little extra money what with the separation pay and hazard pay, etc. So basically I had extra time (provided by my parents and in-laws) and extra money. What's a girl to do? Why buy a new horse of course!

How could I say no to that face?
The ad said he had a year of dressage training and previous training as a jumper. He was listed as sweet and easy to work with and he was definitely striking to look at. (I suppose now is the time I should confess that I am a complete sucker for a pretty face.) So I went to go look at him. He was a pretty cute mover and certainly seemed very friendly on the ground. He even let his previous owner shave his ears while we were watching. Since my Arab still hates to have clippers near his ears I was suitably impressed. I watched his owner ride him and he was a cute mover although he seemed a little anxious. I rode him and he felt a little anxious but then again I was super nervous so maybe it was just me. That's what I told myself.

Well needless to say it didn't take me long to convince myself that I just needed this horse. He was sweet, he was gorgeous, he was sound and young. What could possibly go wrong?

Our first show
He had the rather uninspired name of Blaze so I rechristened him Jitterbug or Bugs for short. Perhaps even then my subconscious was trying to tell me something. Everything went pretty well in the beginning. I took things pretty slow and we were just jumping plain white cross rails and working a little on dressage. I even took him to a schooling show where the judge absolutely loved him. Things felt pretty darn near perfect.

After the DH got back from his deployment I had to move pretty much across the country away from my then current trainer. It took me several months to find someone I could work with in my new state of Washington. At that point I'd started to realize that I needed help with Bugs. No matter how much I worked with him on the ground and in the saddle I could not get him to relax. He was never really bad but he always had that feeling of a contained tornado just ready to get out. The worst thing was his canter. It was completely unbalanced and rushed. I had started dreading even trying to canter him. I needed help!

Bugs and I warming up for some XC schooling
I found a wonderful trainer. P was an up and coming eventer in the area. Young and super smart and talented. She took on Bugs and for quite a while things again seemed great. Bugs was still anxious when I rode but he could canter balanced and even slow. He was super sensitive, though and if you just barely bumped him with your leg he would switch leads but we were making progress.

I'm realizing that this story is too long to really do it justice and keep anyone's attention. So let me just summarize that after an emotional roller coaster of some highs and many more lows I finally came to the conclusion that Bugs would just never work for me. This horse was truly athletic in spite of his not so perfect conformation. If we could have somehow figured out how to get him to relax he would have done very well with eventing at least to the prelim level is what my trainer guessed. Unfortunately his anxiety got to the point where he was becoming dangerous. I had tried calming supplements and many other things but nothing seemed to work. He was just unhappy in the arena. He did pretty well on the trails but I already had a trail horse. The real deciding factor came when he reared on me in a lesson. After that I just decided it wasn't worth it.

I was able to find him a home with a teenage girl who had full disclosure of his issues. I imagine that if I had been younger I might have been more willing to try and work through his trouble so I am hopeful that this young lady will be able to do something with him.

As for me I was pretty heartbroken. I really loved Bugs and had bought him with every intention of keeping him forever just like Ghazal. I felt like a failure and my goal to event felt more like a mostly forgotten dream. Not only that but my confidence in riding took a really big knock as well. At this point in my life things were not looking great.

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