Imagine the following: You have a horse or care for one. As long as you are on the ground, everything is alright. He follows you everywhere, loves to be cuddled, comes up to you on the pasture when he sees you. No matter what you want to each him he trys his best to understand you and he learns very quickly. Everything is totally fine - until you sit on him. Once you're in the saddle he does what he wants even though he used to listen to you. Even though he knows what you want him to do. As soon ss you're riding him he's uncontrollable for no reason. You trained a new exercise five times and everyting was fine until at the sixth time your horse gets all stubborn, rises his head and starts to run straight along the fence. For no damn reason. And on top of that you feel like you and your horse will never ever become a real team, like you're not made for each other, but you love this horse more than anything else in this world. What would you do?
Because that's exactly what's going on with me and my horse Joy, a 9-year-old French Trotter gelding. I'm so desperate and helpless, I really don't know what to do... We have quite a long story already.
Joy is the son of a famous trotter stallion and a former racer himself. After an accident with his sulky which jamed his hind legs he wasn't able to compete anymore so he was planned to be send to the slaughter, but a nice woman bought and gelded him, rode him and sold him again. Joy was gelded at the age of three after mating a mare so he still has the temper of a stallion now. When I first met him he was about 3,5 and I was 11 years old. He was such a sweet and calm horse, I rode him and everything was fine so my mom and my stepfather bought him for my 12th birthday. His owner brought him to us and this day was the day the first problems started: Joy was out of control, he kicked the walls in his stable, he was impossible to lead, as soon as he saw a saddle he started to bite, you couldn't even clean his hooves because he kicked at you. We found out that when we met him he had gotten tranquilizer...
We had to train him. Completly. We found out that he was scared of everything with wheels. He was scared of whips and safety helmets. As soon as he saw a roundpen he ran straight in it and started to trot as fast as he could until he collapsed. He surely wasn't treated good by his former owners. My parents and I didn't know enough about horses to train him ourselves so we looked for help. My mom suggested to sell him again but I begged her not to. I was in love with him.
It was a pretty hard time for me, too, because it was the time when I started to get bullied in my school. It started with being called names. Whenever I was sad I went to Joy to cuddle and stroke him and in fact it made me feel better. I promised him that I would never ever give up on him and that one day we would gallop over the fields. I promised it. Him and myself.
We started the groundwork. He learned to be led without bumping into us, stepping on our feet and to stop when we tell him to. It was a hard year until he started to trust us. When he finally did it was time for him to get confrontated with al his fears: Helmets, whips, sulkys, saddles. Another year passed, he was 5 and I was 13/14. This was the worst time for me ever. Being called names was one of the more harmless things: People stole my things and money, they wrote things like "Bitch, go kill yourself" on my school bag, they attacked my physically. Once in January, a wekk before my 14th birthday, some of my class members put my clothes in the shower while we had sport lesson. It was cold, it was winter and I had the choice between wet clothes or shorts and a tank top. They laughed while I started crying. But again it was Joy who showed me again and again what I was living for whenever I wanted to give up. Showing me that he trusted me, letting me touch and cuddle him was the best thing ever for me. And it still is. It gave me life some kind of a sense. So I kept on fighting. We where ready to lounge him and Joy learned quickly. We could saddle and tack him without problems and I could sit on him without saddle. Joy always did his best. He finally forgot all the things he had learned on the race track like totting as fast as he could as soon as I urged him into a trot. He started to relax and trusted us even more. It was the year he came up to me on the pasture for the first time since we bought him. He followed me over the sand arena without lead rope. He finally gave me the love that I had given him the years before. I was finally able to ride him for the first time - only walk but well. It was the best feeling in the world.
The training wasn't always easy, Joy is a dominant and stubborn horse but this way I learned to stay calm in stressfull moments. He taught me so much. He gave me so much back. Buying him was the best decision in my life. During the following year, 2012, I trotted him for the first time and he learned to gallop - yes right, he couldn't gallop. Whenever he did on the pasture he lost his balance and fell back in his quick trot. He couldn't gallop under a rider of course so we lounged him and over the months he started to do really well. I was able to ride him and we found out that he was an amazing horse to ride out with - very calm and sure-footed. In this year I rode out with him for the first time. I could walk and trot with him, we did several exercises he did very well and I trained him in freejumping over small obstacles. In 2012 I got to know my current boyfriend and my life started to become easier and better. Joy, seven years old, had turned from an uncontrollable, wild, dangerous horse to my best friend, reliable, lovely and gentle. Of course still not always easy but he was an amazing horse.
It all started to change at the end of 2013. My coach started to train me and Joy seriously now, he should become a real riding horse and I was sure we were going to make it like we did in the past years. At first it seemed like I was right. Joy learned exercises quickly, he was interested in the lessons. But from one day to the other it changed. As long as I was riding on the left hand he was calm and relaxed but once I turned to his right side he started to trot as quick as he could, no matter if under the saddle or while lounging. We were worried that he might be in pain but the vet couldn't find anything. We tried to make the lessons more interesting because we thought Joy might be bored. We tried everything, asked several other people (even professionals) but nothing and no one could help us. It gets worth from lesson to lesson. As long as I'm doing groundwork with him everything's alright, he follows me everywhere, runs to me on the pasture, we cuddle and I love him more than anything else. He's my little baby and will always be. But for almost a year I feel as if we are never going to be a real team. For three years I'm being promised that I may gallop him. And every year my coach says "you're not ready, wait one more year" but I'm losing my patience. Next lesson is on friday and let me be honest: I hate it already. Every lesson is the same. Even if it ends up not being a total desaster we don't improve. It's like I'm running and running on the same place. I want to learn show jumping but I can't even gallop Joy yet. He's nine years old now. The problem is that I am ready to gallop and jump him but he isn't because he's out of control again. Everything he learned the past six years seems to be gone. From one day to the other. Without reason. I love Joy. Really. So don't get my next statement wrong: I have to decide between keeping Joy and living with the risk of not learning show jumping, competing or even galloping him ever in his life. Or selling my beloved Joy, the horse that I've spent the past six years with, the horse I've told all my problems, the horse that taught me to stay calm, to relax, the horse that kept me on fighting, that gave my life a sense when I thought I want to give up. But instead living my dream on a new horse: riding, jumping, competing on a trained horse.
My mom suggested me to learn jumping and proper riding on another horse and letting my coach ride Joy so that we can try it again in a few months, when we both are a little bit more experienced. But I still doubt that Joy and I will ever become a real team. It's as if you got cheated on, learn to trust your new boyfriend and just when you feel completly comfortable around him you catch him kissing your best friend. It hurts me so bad, the thought of another girl riding Joy or that thought that he loves another person as much as me or even more. I hate the thought of selling him. That I will never look in his beautiful eyes again. I will miss his personality. He is my best friend. But the same time I know that it makes no sense to continue like this and no one has got another idea how to help us. I was crying all day because my mom suggested me to sell Joy. She said she loved him too and that this would be all my decision. But I can't decide. Keeping Joy or living my dream? I don't know. I don't want to breake the promise I gave him that I would never give up on him... We didn't even gallop over a field yet. I promised it. But sometimes I wonder if Joy would be happier with an experienced rider. I don't know whats his problem or what he wants. I want to keep my promise but I feel like I can't. Riding Joy makes me more sad than happy...
Please guys. Please help me. I don't know what to do. What would you do? I would already be happy about some comforting, kind words. I wanted to visit Joy but after looking through the internet for a trainer hanoverian gelding I'm feeling so bad and I'm scared seeing Joy would only make me feel worse. I'm so done...