Monday, January 3, 2011

I'm only faking when I get it right

I love this post title from Soundgarden. Sometimes I think that lyric is so profound. Brian doesn't like it. He thinks it is like admitting that you aren't good at anything. But life is like that lyric, I think. Sometimes you get things right and it is a complete surprise, even to you. As we usher in this new year, 2011 (love that number!), I have been reflecting on my journey with Pie and Sovereign. I am so happy and grateful for the progress we have made so far. In the past, I have hesitated to make any sweeping proclamations about training philosophies on this blog and sometimes I think it appears like I am just flitting around, having a grand time riding and playing with my two horses without a thought in my head. That isn't actually true, but I have avoided saying too much about my plan, my ideas, my goals.

Brian has a friend, Surf, who has a quip: "Every time you say something, you are proven wrong." Surf's last name is Murphy, so we love referring to this aphorism as "Murphy's Second Law". I believe wholeheartedly in Murphy's Second Law. I worried about writing on this blog about training philosophies especially in the beginning when I hadn't really accomplished anything worth noting.

I receive emails occasionally from new OTTB owners asking for advice. For a long time I have wanted to come up with an easy way to answer basic questions about what is working for me. Our crazy bad weather here in Florida allowed me the time to finally work out my thoughts. In addition, we have had Pie and Sovereign for almost two years, so I feel a little more confident that some of what I am doing actually works!

I have added new pages and gadgets on my sidebar that talk about retraining, confidence, horsekeeping and books that I recommend.

These pages are LONG (insert the image of me stroking my imaginary beard here, as in "I am growing a beard" because it will take you so long to read these pages). I do not expect my blogging friends to feel compelled to read all this information. I wrote it out mainly for me and for anyone who might like to see how someone else handles the retraining of Thoroughbreds. It is a good time of year for long reading, I guess, so if you have the right amount of coffee and a warm blanket, feel free to grow a beard. I do like the Confidence page especially, as a glimpse into who I really am as a rider. (These blogs can be so deceptive and paint too rosy of a picture when really there is a huge untold history of past victories and defeats that shape our daily posts.)

I will update and change my new pages as needed and I am allowing comments on them - I didn't realize I could do that before with my pages.

Happy Noodle Year from Noodlebug and the rest of us here in sunny (not) Florida!


  1. Juliette, That is a lovely post! I agree with you about sometimes making a goal too formal can become counterproductive. I look forward to reading your new pages. But I am sad to not see your page called "Sundries!" I loved that bit of optimistic philosophy and, believe it or not, would often think about what you said on it when having a bad day. Maybe, possibly, you could tuck that lovely gem back on your blog somewhere...?... please?... And Happy New Year to you and yours. Wish Florida was sunnier for you!

  2. Jan,
    Thank you for the kind words and (always) insightful comments. Thank you also for the inspiration to put the Sundries page back up. I pulled down my old pages because their links at the top over-flowed and just looked too busy. I'm working on little square photo gadgets for them and will have them over at the side in the gadget bar sometime soon.

  3. Great post. I just read the Confidence page and thought it was wonderful. I'll be back to read the others.

  4. Good thoughts. I agree on the huge untold history.
    I look forward to reading your new pages!

  5. I will have to check out your pages. Am very interested in the confidence one!
    Happy New Year to you and your family!!

  6. A really excellent series of pages - thanks for taking the time to put all this together, including the links!

  7. I hope you don't mind - I've linked.

  8. Thanks everyone for the nice comments!

    Kate - thank you for linking and for the nice words on your blog!

  9. Girl, I just read your "Confidence" post and cried! Thanks for letting me feel what I feel and want what I want without feeling they are in conflict with one another. Thanks.

  10. Hi Rachel - Thank you for stopping by - I am so happy the Confidence page was helpful/hopeful.

  11. Thank you for sharing your words and your recommendation of this book. I'm not embarassed of the title and will gladly read it.

    Like your Mother, I struggle more with the memory of pain than a fear of riding. I've never had anything terrible happen with my current horse while riding and I trust her when I'm on her back. My previous horse was the difficult horse that acted unpredictable and was moody, cranky and argumentative.

    I was raised in a military family and was taught, very sternly, "You make your bed, you better lie in it!" So, even though, as an older (I'm 43 year, started with owning my first horse 3 years ago) novice horse owner, I was way over-horsed, I thought it was my problem and I had to just deal with it the best I could.
    Unfortunately, that philosophy made me end up in the hospital with major surgery, and over a year of rehabilitation.

    I found that first mare a good home last year and found a new mare, much more suited to me after I took a bunch of riding lessons and fear 'makeover' riding classes. But I don't trust my mare on the ground now. She's kicked me in the hip and kicked me in the face, which even broke the bones around my eye.

    So now, even though I love my mare and want so much to ride her again and handle her on the ground, too, I deal with the memory of those injuries and wonder if after all of that, if I can trust her while I'm in the saddle. I used to spend hours grooming her, hand grazing her, hugging on her, and working on ACTHA challenges together. It was so much fun and I miss it. But I don't trust her anymore. And she knows it, I can tell.

    Last Winter and Spring I took a whol slew of riding lessons, went on organized trail rides, rode in ACTHA challenges...and moved past my original fears that held me hostage after what I went through after I was injured by my first horse.
    And here I am frustrated...again...back at square one.

    Thanks again for this post. I trotted over here from Kate's blog and I'm glad I did.

    You might not remember me, but you made me a beautiful poster that Kacy gave me. It was a picture of Apache and I crossing a bridge during an ACTHA ride last Spring. That poster means a lot to me. Thank you.


  12. When anyone is posting about training methods or any methods of horsemanship/keeping you must remember: Everything that is said to be right is completely wrong in a different scenario. Meaning there's never a golden rule with horses. Remember you learn something from every single horse person you meet: What you do want to do and what you would never do.

  13. Hi Lisa -

    Yes, of course I remember you and your Apache! I featured that poster in my last post. I am so glad you like it!

    I am very sorry you are frustrated again after going through riding difficulties with your first horse and now dangerous kicking with Apache.

    Our Sovey can be a handful on the ground which requires an approach that is very much like a dance. I anticipate and avoid in an agile manner, but at 43 years old, I am not always as agile as I wish. He is a tough customer that offers bites and kicks at times. I do not think these dangerous retorts will ever be missing from his personality - just as I do not think my cat will ever stop biting me or scratching me when she is uncomfortable in a specific situation. The difference is that my cat doesn't break the bones around my eye. Horses are dangerous. There is no other way to say that. I believe that my job as a horse owner is to find the way to make Sovereign and Pie the most comfortable physically and psychologically in order to diminish dangerous behaviours, and get out of the way when I fail.

    I do not believe that horses act maliciously out of spite. Many people may disagree, but that is my belief. I think horses act out to convey either their physical discomfort or mental fear/discomfort. The mental part is tricky because the fear could be of something that happened before I even owned the horse.

    Sovereign was raced and I have little knowledge of what went on in his very early life and racing days. I do know that some sort of pain/fear can kick in to his mind or body and he can lash out at me - in defense. Obviously, I am not hitting him or hurting him in any way that I could ever imagine. Yet, I use the word "defense" because, again, I do not think horses are waiting to attack humans when our guard is down. Something is triggering his reaction.

    But, whether it is an acute physical pain or a scary memory or some fear I am unknowingly causing, I do not want to get hurt. All I know to do with Sovereign is to keep trying to reassure him with grooming and hand-grazing, hand-walking and riding and make sure to be extremely focused and safe (clear of teeth and feet) at all times.

  14. Oh I love the re vamp of the banner design and the pages to the right..I'll be popping over for some additional reading. I agree, sometimes the challenge we have during riding, grooming, etc doesn't portray clearly in our blissful (or tearful) blog entries...but then again, sometimes it's all very clear! I learn a lot from your training with kindness and calmness techniques. A lot.

  15. Thanks Kristen - I am so glad you like my new header and gadget designs - you always spy the art straightaway!
    I leave so much history out of my regular posts to keep it short - I am so long winded about horses as it is!!!

  16. Interesting list of books, most I haven't heard of. Thanks. I'm looking forward to reading the new pages.

  17. Once Upon - I hope you like the pages - unfortunately, you are short on time right now and my pages are like books themselves!!! lol! Definitely ride sweet Misty first, read later!

  18. I want to comment on the comment that you received from Kristen on the Confidence page about how a horse brings out one's personality. I think that she is right on. I have always said that riding and working with horses is one of the greatest personality developers that a person can experience. You know, Julie, that good or bad, it has made us who we are. Horses are in our blood and I am very grateful for the gift that I have received from them. I have always, and will always, love horses.

  19. Thanks, Mom, I agree - horses have shaped who we are. And, they are in our blood.


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