Did I fall off the wagon or what? Nibbles didn’t improve after the vet looked at her in October so I made the decision to just let her be a horse for a while. I feel like Sara leaving plus going into basically full-time training just blew her baby brain. This month, I’ve started doing some in-hand exercises just to test the gears, see if they’re rusty or still running a little bit loopy. So far, they seem to be in working order. In fact, Nibbles seems glad to see me when I come, especially when it means a long groom. I really can’t pinpoint exactly what happened in the fall but – knock on wood – I’m hopeful it’s behind us.
I have a new plan. In either April or May, Nibbles will go up north to a well-trusted trainer friend of mine for pony bootcamp over 90 days. I’m pinching all my pennies to make it happen. The fiance and I will move up north for his school the first week of July so I’m hoping to time her wrapping up this bootcamp when we get settled in. She’ll be boarded about an hour and a half north of our new house so it’s not a big deal if she needs to stay to finish things up and – most importantly – for me to go up and take some lessons together.
I think I’ve finally accepted that I will not be training Nibbles by myself. It would be a dream to be able to finish her myself but working downtown 40+ hours/week is the reality. For a while, I struggled with that because I felt like I was letting her down and, if I’m being brutally honest with myself, that training by someone else would be either sub-par or cruel. After coming to terms with the fact that I either put her into training or sell her – there is no other fair option to her – I feel better about my decision. It’s silly how we have to get to that point as horse owners, where we feel ok with a decision for our horses.
In the meantime, I’m going to bundle up in my ski gear that is really just barn gear and try to get out there at least two nights/week to start with and hopefully many more. We’re having a warm spell in Kentucky so it may actually be 30 degrees when I get out there this evening (in the dark, of course). Normally, at night, we’re lucky if we’re in the upper teens so weekends will be my only time in sunlight. My short term goals are:
1) Get out to the barn, even if it’s just to groom her. Handling is handling and no one at this barn can do it for me.
2) Make sure she’s mentally and physically ready to go to the trainer’s. That means shots and the dentist in March but it also means making sure she has the lunging button firmly installed, tying isn’t an issue, being respectful of people’s space, clipping, bathing (ok, no bathing until April probably because of no hot water), etc. She’s been drilled on all of these things previously but I basically let her hang out in November and December so she’ll need refreshers.
3) Follow through and send her to the trainer for as much time as I can afford, certainly no less than 30 days but hopefully a full 90.
4) Come to the trainer’s as often as I can to not only see progress but so trainer can teach me and make sure I know how to not undo her work.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll embrace the eskimo lifestyle and start riding her this winter again. We shall see!