Whenever I struggled through a time in my life, my mother would remind me, “it’s just a season of life.” I used to dislike this phrase. Sometimes life just sucks and that’s all there is to it. As I grew up I began to understand these words better. Although I remind myself of these words often for all aspects of life, this is a horse blog after all.
When I first bought Cash I couldn’t wait to start riding just like I used to growing up. Although I loved riding all over the countryside in my teens, I ended up spending most of my time with Cash in the arena. I was fortunate to have a small, but beautiful, section of trails at the boarding facility. Cash handled these trails fairly well, but we also covered all of them within an hour on the first ride. I remember wishing I could go trail riding more. I grew frustrated that my trail riding abilities were limited due to not having a trailer or the skills to even pull one. At this point, I had owned Cash for around four months, and my mother reminded me, “it’s just a season of life.”
When I moved Cash to the next barn for various reasons (nothing negative!), I had plans to ride all over the countryside – just as I had growing up! It was December when we moved, and this barn was not on a main road. Cash ended up with a sore back due to a trailer injury so the first two weeks I wasn’t able to ride. As soon as we returned to light riding, the weather seemed to have settled into a negative pattern. Every weekend had snow, rain, or had icy areas from the weather the day before. So, back to the arena we went. I felt as though we would never get out of the arena.
By late March, the weather had finally started to get a little better. It was then I found out Cash was barn sour! He hated riding away from the barn. He would throw tantrums to the point that I would need to dismount to safely regain control due to remaining iciness. I was SO frustrated! At this point I had owned him for over six months, beat EPM, and thought I had a great equine partner. It felt as though we had taken 10 steps backwards. I just wanted to be able to go ride. This time, I reminded myself that, “it’s just a season of life.”
Instead of riding away from the barn, I would saddle up and walk beside him. Although some people joked that horses were for riding, I truly think it helped. He was calmer and would not throw tantrums if I was leading him rather than riding. Each time, I tried to walk just a little further. I did throw in some rides as well. Each time it would start off decent, but would end up with Cash rushing back to the barn. Again, super frustrating! We couldn’t seem to get past this.
Right around the time Covid hit, I decided to move Cash to my parents house to save money. I wasn’t sure how Covid would affect my job or my husband’s, so I proactively found a way to cut costs. I now cover all his expenses and am responsible for all aspects of his care, but there isn’t any monthly board.
When I got Cash home, there was no more arena. I had to really buckle down and work through his issues in order to make progress during our rides. The first month was rough! Tantrums, spooking, barn sour AND buddy sour to the steer. Again, I was beyond frustrated! The day he attempted to rear was a wake up call for me. I remembered thinking that if I couldn’t get Cash under control, I would have to consider selling. At his age, with a history of EPM, I don’t think he would have ended up anywhere good. I made myself a promise; that I would not give up on him, and that we would make it through yet “another season” together.
After two months of working through issues during our rides, he finally made significant progress! We started riding out alone for 5-6 miles. We started riding with other people and trailering to new places. It felt amazing!
The other day, I took Cash for a quick ride that was a little under 2 miles. Two months ago, that was not a carefree ride we could have done in 30 minutes. It was that night that I realized we had made it through the rough season.
I’m finally able to jump on and go for a bareback ride in the evenings. I can saddle up and ride for miles, alone or with a group. Cash handles new areas like a champ and his spooking has become minimal. Even when he does spook, it’s a more appropriate response.
So, for those of your going through rough patches with your equine partners, remember, “it’s just a season of life.” Do not focus on all that you cannot do. Instead, celebrate the small successes. Make a big deal out of it when you accomplish a goal! And then keep pushing to accomplish the next one. It’s so rewarding to look back and see how far you’ve come. There were days I felt like I’d never be able to take Cash out on carefree rides. Now, we ride all over!
Take pride in how far you have come.
Have faith in how far you can go.
I would love to hear about your journey with your horse! Please feel free to share in the comments below! We can all stand to learn something from one another. And remember, don’t become discouraged. Take a deep breath, remember it’s just a season, and continue on.