I felt really guilty for getting to the point where I did with Spyder with his behavior and slump on learning. I wasn't sure what I did wrong, but I did blame myself for pushing him too hard. I do think he was tired of me asking for too many new things, so we had to go back a few steps before we could go forward.
My call with Dom that I spoke about in the last post was an emotional explosion of my thoughts. I wasn't convinced that I would be able to progress his training (and listening to others wasn't helping). I didn't feel we could move forward and get back to a show or a lesson where I didn't have to explain myself. With gaited horses, they were taught to do a certain thing, and I couldn't get past that fact that I would teach him how to trot and canter vs the pace, then get somewhere and look like I didn't teach him a thing. I thought long and hard, and was this what I signed up for? I didn't want to admit defeat, but I had many conversations with Chris about my confusion in terms of my horse.
Did I screw up? Was he what I wanted? Would I ever be able to get back to where he was? Should I give him back? What if he's not happy being ridden? I was all over the place with my thoughts. Chris was a big part in convincing me to step back and look at the big picture. Was I having fun? He was sick of listening to how much I loved my horse one day and how I had the worst ride the next. That was such a loaded question, and I honestly wasn't sure if I was having fun. Chris came to the show where all of the pacing started, and he could see my frustration which wasn't helping Spyder calm down. He suggested that I take a break and I get help. I didn't need to finish the show and get both of us worked up more than we already were. I needed to decide for myself (and not listening to other people) if this is what I wanted. Chris was very right, and I'm glad he showed up at the fairgrounds to see the start of all of my confusion.
The conversation before Dom came out went just as that... Was he going in the direction of what I was looking to do? I felt like such a failure and felt so guilty for having the "I can give him back" attitude. Dom's assessment was so helpful, and she let me know that he was perfectly capable and willing to do as he was asked. She asked me all kinds of questions... Do you want to show? Do you need to show right now? Are you looking to jump him? Are you having fun? Are you willing to bring a more consistent routine? All of these questions led me to believe it was possible, I just had to assess the situation. I think that what I was doing with him and what I wanted to be doing with him were two very different circumstances.
Was I having fun? Not always, but when I did, it was reassuring to feel as happy as I did. Those great rides where we both understood what each other were the moments that made me realize I should have never thought so negatively. Loosening up on his rein and just letting him find the trot and his balance helped so much. It turned into trotting around the farm, and not fighting each other around the farm. Once we could trot without fighting each other, we could work on going round again. Chris and Dom were both such a help in my decision to do what made myself and my horse happy. Taking each moment one step at a time, working on patience, and pushing through the hard times were a few of the lessons learned.
To date, I can't think of another situation that has taught me so much in terms of listening to myself, taking advice, not doing as others say you should, thinking for myself, gathering patience, looking at the big picture, and figuring it out. No, I didn't do it on my own, but I felt like the people around me cared enough to give me the resources to make that decision for myself. Not by telling me what they thought, but by getting the questions to me for my decision - and not for anyone else. I would say the guilt was worth the lessons learned and the journey I've been able to overcome with my horse.