I found myself slipping into a funk last night and wondering if I should get rid of Ashke.
This week has been rough. We are moving into fall mode and T started back to school today. He is running cross-country again this year (which is why we tortured him and made him run since last fall) which means he needs to be picked up from school at four-thirty. That means I must leave work about half an hour early to drive to pick him up. Ultimately, that means that for the next eight weeks I will only be riding on the weekends. This week has been focused on getting routines established (worked - this morning was smooth, without a lot of trauma), getting all of his items together and getting all of us ready for this change.
Monday, when I was at the barn, I let everyone know that I can no longer do the WE on Monday nights, which is when I discovered that C (the only consistent person to ride with me) is moving Bretia at the end of the month to a barn that is more jumper focused (leaves the jumps up all of the time). That combination was enough to take any riding energy I had and sucked it right out of my soul. It was also pretty darn hot. I decided to work Ashke in the Bungie Straightjacket rather than ride, since I just wasn't feeling it. I got him set up with a halter instead of a bit, got the straightjacket on him (like a pessoa system but with bungies instead of static ropes) and turned him loose in the round pen. There was bucking, kicking, kicking at my head, rearing, racing around like a fool and a lot of cross cantering. I sat on the mounting block in the middle and waited until he was finished. Finally, he settled enough to give me some good trot and canter work, but he held his head pretty high while cantering. I was sweating like a whore on nickel night and ended up just putting him away.
Last night, I spent a lot of time grooming him and noticed that he was sore over his right haunch. I rubbed it for a while and then saddled him up. We went to the outdoor arena and began our warm up. He was really tight through the back and stiff. About five minutes into our warm up another horse came into the arena which caused Ashke to get more tense, rather than less. I was riding somewhat aimlessly, trying to get him to relax and stretch when one of the boarders came in and started setting up the flag for some flag training she was doing that evening.
I asked Ashke for a canter and was rewarded with the roughest canter we have had in months. And he started throwing his head up and bouncing from lead to lead in a jarring manner. I tried to get him to stretch out and relax, and then asked him to come back down to our controlled, easy trot. Right about then the other rider in the arena went whipping past me at a dead run.
Ashke about lost his mind. We did airs above the ground. We bounced in place. And he started blowing like he was terrified by everything that was going on. I couldn't get him to calm down or relax until we started doing lateral movement. It wasn't that he suddenly got out of control, since he didn't blow up on me, it was just that it felt like he could. I got him to sidepass, then to turn in a small circle on his front while swinging his haunches out around me. He was still blowing, but at least he was also doing what I asked. Three more horses came into the arena for the flag training.
We left the arena and went across the street.
I got really down. I felt like he was broken again (stiff back, feeling like he was short striding, awful canter) and I was just done. I was done with worrying about his physical condition. I was done with trying to get a solid canter without him bouncing all over. I was done with trying to get him conditioned and pointed at a discipline that we might want to do. I felt stupid for sending in my application for the WE schooling show in September. I didn't want to try for the Endurance ride in October. I just wanted to sell my horse and stop riding. I hated myself; how I looked, how I felt, how I rode. Everything. Tipped right over into a bucket of fear and self-loathing and couldn't get myself out.
Don't let anyone fool you into thinking once you are done with menopause that the hormones are gone. They are not. They just aren't regular moments in time (like with PMS just before your period). They can sideswipe you into depression and self-hatred without you even knowing they are there.
We rode around the park across the street and overall, Ashke was pretty good. I think the diminished work is starting to take effect, because he was a ball of energy. Riding two days a week is not going to help with that. I was a slight touch better by the time we returned to the barn. I wasn't hating my horse as bad as I was when I left. My self-hatred was just as strong, however. I put him away. Cleaned up his stall. Fed him his mash and told him he was a good boy.
Then I cried in the car on the way home. J and T both felt helpless when I got home, although neither took me seriously when I said I wanted to sell Ashke. I opted to color in my adult coloring book while T worked on his driver's ed at the table. That helped. I was still full of self-loathing when I went to bed. Depression and overwhelming sadness.
I woke up about three with the realization that Ashke was stiff from the Bungie Straightjacket and his antics on Monday. He wasn't broken, he was just sore, which I should have realized when he reacted so strongly to my rubbing his right hip. Then, when I was awakened this morning by the alarm, I realized that although he got bouncy and jiggy when the horse tore past us, he didn't do anything to try and hurt me. Even tense and uptight and snorting loudly at whatever he was snorting at, he listened and tried to do what I asked.
Saiph also reminded me that we need to set goals but not expectations when we go to ride. And to roll with the flow.
The hormones just giggled and laughed their way back into somnolence.
Ashke greeted me with a soft whinny when he saw me get out of the car this morning to feed him. Yeah, the boy is not for sale.