Oy. Today I was the one who ruined the ride. I HATE that.

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011 | Filed under Musings


I’m sure every one of those ladies I met today are all sitting around together dissecting what I was doing wrong with my horse and all the ways I could have ridden my horse better.

OK, maybe I’m paranoid but haven’t you done the same thing?  After a bad ride, you get on the phone with your buddy and discuss how soandso should have done thisnthat…

OY.  They were probably all burning up the phone lines chatting about ME.  -Maybe not but I know they discussed it as soon as I left.



Haven’t you ever had that one person who is either rattling their horse or their horse is rattling them?  And it kinda irritates everyone and ruins the ride for you…

Yup.  That person was ME.

I’m still cringing.  Thank gawd I peeled off and quit the ‘group ride’ after only 45 painful minutes.   I think I would have melted if I had to endure the shame any longer.

So embarrassed.



I cannot blame Finn.

I rarely ride him with more than 1 or 2 other people.  It isn’t that I shield him, it is just that I rarely have enough planning time to get more than 1 or 2 people together at one time.  So, he has been kinda sheltered.  That is, except for when he rode on a drill team.  But for some reason, riding in an arena with lots of other horses in a pattern doesn’t seem to excite him (or me).  Perhaps the patterns keep my mind busy…

Whatever… you know where I’m going with this.

Yup.  I thought we were riding with 1 or 2 other people and instead we were in a (gasp) group.


To Finn, a group mean…

More horses to:  show up, compete with, mouth off to, crowd, pinny ear, stink eye, amp up, go faster than, pass, intimidate and generally mess with while Mom does everything she can to act like none of this is happening while clenching and cueing with every appendage and device possible.

To say that I was tense would have been an understatement.

To say it was his fault would be unfair.


Yes.  It is true.  If he was trained better, this would not have happened.

The thing is, I ride him alone or with 1-2 other people all the time and this doesn’t happen.  In fact, if we are alone on the trail, he usually wants to buddy up with another horse.

So, I didn’t know he wasn’t trained well… except maybe a little I knew – maybe.

And, I must admit, I don’t actively train Finn because he is my ‘go to’ horse.  He is the one I take when I just want a nice ride.

Finn and I ride the most…  (just not with more than 1 or 2 others.)


After not being able to assuage Finn from challenging the horses he didn’t know, I decided to put him at the back with the one mule he knew.

That worked.

The problem was that the other people were not savvy to what was happening.  Or, they wanted to help me so they swung their horses around to chat with me.

Nice of them… except that just made him want to fuss.  So, I would get tense.  And, that didn’t make a very good impression of me or my horse.  The ladies thought I was a Type A Twit. Which I probably am.

One nice lady thought she would just chat with me to ease the obvious tension.  She thought that if she eased me, that would inadvertently ease my horse.  She was correct.  I’m sure my tense body made Finn feel like he had to fight the intruders.  Anyway, she sidled up to me on her mule and was being very kind.  Except… she used a leather under-over to keep her horse going.  So, she was swinging that thing under and over the entire time she was next to Finn.

Well, you can imagine how he felt about that thing whooshing around by his belly…

Then, of course, there was the ‘trainer’ in the group.   We won’t even go there.


And another thing…

Yes, it is true.  Walkers are faster at the walk than other horses.  They are often faster at their walk than trotting horses are at their trot.

But, that wasn’t the issue.  Finn will walk at any pace when he is (I am) calm.

However, it is tough to have a group of trotting horses and one lonely Walker.  It kinda doesn’t work.  Walkers are going to be faster unless you canter and even then we might be faster.  So, if you think moving-out makes it better, it doesn’t.

The issue was when people decided to trot or lope to ‘get the kinks out’ of the excitable horse (in this case, Finn).

Not a good idea.  As they started trotting, we were in the back like a belching dragon.  Soon, we were in the front like a bunched up locomotive ready to blow off steam all the way back to the trailer…

Just sayin’…


What was really funny to me is how hyper alert I became once Finn became hyper alert.  Or maybe it was the other way around…

I mean, those little things that one takes for granted were screaming at me!

First of all… Mother Nature was laughing.  No, she was bellowing.  She was bellowing with some very powerful gale forces today.  Great.  Leaves blowing everywhere and acorns falling like rocks from the sky.  Yay. Even better. Uh huh.  Perfect.

I noticed the horse weaving in front of me which was making Finn angry.  I noticed the noise one of the saddles made, I noticed the rider turning around backwards in the saddle who was dragging a rein on the ground, I noticed the woman without a helmet who was riding a horse who kept trying to buck, I noticed the one horse who was lame, I noticed the one who went fast then slow then fast then slow and above all, I noticed the solid black mustang who was a gem.

I also noticed my humiliation.

I was totally humiliated.

So, I peeled off and said that I knew I was ruining everyone’s ride so it was better that I went on my own.

Like a beat dog, I slipped away with my tail between my legs.

–And in a matter of minutes, Finn and I were fine.


I was going to suggest that he must have relaxed… but I think we all know that it was really me who finally relaxed.


I dunno.

I need to ride him more with others – or not.  I was thinking about that.  I don’t really want to ride him more with others.  I like to ride him when I am alone.  Gwen and BG are great in groups.  I’ll ride them in groups.

Besides, I just don’t have enough time to make all of them better at all things and me better at the same time.  Sad but true.

And the other moral of the story is:

Don’t bitch about people having a bad day because some time that will be YOU.

Humbly yours…

This is us. We are usually alone. (I added makeup and better hair to myself.)


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HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

9 comments have been posted...

  1. Barbie

    That was a great story. It happens sometimes as much as we wish it wouldn’t. :)

  2. Annie

    Relax, it was one ride that didn’t go the way you wanted, it’s OK. The sun will come up tomorrow.

  3. KW

    Don’t you just hate feeling vulnerable? I sure do! :P But I will say, having the right group to ride with can make all the difference!

    When I was in school for natural horsemanship, we would do big trail rides as a group. If anyone started having trouble with their horse our teacher would have everyone stop, sit quietly, and the experience became a teaching moment for everyone. People were encouraging, relaxed, and aware of their movements, making the environment low stress. Then we would move on and continue our lovely ride!

    After school, I rode with a group who wasn’t super aware and would ride off without me if I was working on something (making my nervous horse much more nervous :), would act exasperated if my horse did something silly, or would do little unconscious things that upset my horse (like the twiddling rope near Finn’s belly). It made me leave my ride feeling sad and bad about my riding. Then I realized nothing was wrong with me or them, we just weren’t a good match!! Our goals and styles conflicted, making neither of us right or wrong…only different :) Now I ride with people who fit me and my horse better, and if I ever find myself in a big group I’m not ashamed to tell them the 411 on what’s up with me and my horse. If they’re down, that’s great! If not, we go our separate ways.

    That lengthy example was to say, don’t feel bad about you or the job you did with Finn!! You and this group just weren’t a good match :)

  4. Anita

    I can so relate! With all your experiences. Mine was so bad I can’t even bring myself to tell it. I’ll just say I discovered I didn’t break and my helment ended up with a big chunk out of it. Various parts of all your experiences applied to mine. The ride was 60 or so horses and people from many various parts of my life. Total humiliation. I still can’t believe I didn’t die.

  5. Susie

    All I can say is…. you MUST tell me who does your hair and makeup! Simply mavalus!! :-)

  6. Kitty Bo

    My favorite maxim for riding that I have confirmed in myself many times is, “Discretion is the better part of valor.” Good for you for seeing the best thing to do. I know what you mean about riding with people whose level of experience you are not comfortable with. That’s why discretion is the most wonderful, life affirming better part of valor. ;-)

  7. Barbara

    I can relate. As an overmounted, older re-rider on a “FAD” breed I already get the smirks. Trying to ride as well as I used to at 13-17years old just makes it worse. I ruined a group lesson because I can not sit my horses canter. I fell off, with caused my horse to bolt which upset the group. It caused the rest of the horses to be a little jumpy the rest of the lesson. I felt like a big idiot and I was humiliated. Without making mistakes here and there we will never learn, and we will never get ahead if we don’t ever try. Now I have a clearer idea of my now skill level and I will need alot more hours in the saddle before I can even hope to ride like I used to.

  8. Kitty Bo

    :-( I’m sorry. I think we can all identify. I had a young Arabian who I had well schooled before I took him out on the trail, but the first time I rode w/ 2 other friends, he became very hot. He even piaffed as we were waiting while a gate was open. One gal, who had done a lot of Parelli, commented later on about how our horses were the same :-0, but basically inferred that I had failed. She was riding a big QH. When we trotted, my Arabian would leave them behind, not because he was out of control but because of the nature of his lovely gaits. My horse was glued to the QH mare’s butts in front of me (“Mama, protect me!), but at one point when the lead horse (blind in one eye) turned and spooked, of course my horse turned and ran (“If they are scared, I’m out of here!”) Interestingly, the other two riders, riding in string halters because their Parelli trained horses were such saints, couldn’t get a one rein stop. I, who had schooled my horse in a one rein halt and was riding in a snaffle, got a stop which brought the stampede to a stand still. None the less, I was not invited back, despite the fact that my young, nervous, but schooled horse did every thing I asked of him.
    You know, you have to ride however you are comfortable, but if you want to conquer this in your mind, get w/ a trainer who can give you some tips on what to do w/ your horse, even if it’s only one lesson. Then, even if you never ride in a group again, at least your mind will have conquered your insecurities. That’s more important than fixing the ride….fixing your mind.

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