I was determined to ride Gabbrielle today and set myself up for success by going straight to her stall and haltering her, leaving all the other horses locked up. I also didn't bother to clean up manure first, because I knew it would wipe me out, and I needed to beat the heat.
My intention was to go for a trail ride, but just walking her around the property, she was spooking violently and bolting at stupid things she's seen a million times before like rocks and rabbits. The way she flipped out, you'd think she had a mountain lion on her back. I decided I didn't need to risk my own ability to ride other, more sane horses, by trail riding her and getting hurt. I just rode her in the manure filled arena. It was boring, but at least I kept her tuned up.
I had a goal to be riding her regularly without a buddy horse on the trails by this summer. My last trainer had been doing that, but I was unable to pick up where he left off around Christmas. It's been a busier year than I would have liked. I decided to take the pressure off myself and just do tune ups every once in a while.
I have some inherent issues with riding her that cloud my ability to envision success. First off, because of her barrel shape, her lack of withers, her lopsidedness, and her habit of bloating, it is almost impossible to ride her without the saddle sliding down her side. So, I have to ride very still right smack in the center of her back. However, I have no control over her teleporting out from underneath me, so it seems a given than I will fall off when she spooks and spins. The saddle can't help but slide in the opposite direction when she moves sideways.
P.S. had the same problem using two different saddles on her, only she was able to stay centered better than me because she weighs a lot less than I do. My weight causes the saddle to shift with every slight move. Gabbrielle almost needs a pad that sticks on both sides.
Anyway, my point is that it is easy for me to make goals for her training, but then I ride her and realize that it's just not going to work out. She's had three trainers now, and I hoped that just getting miles put on her would fix her nervousness, but that never really happened. She is better, but she's far from being the relaxed, confident trail horse I need her to be. I doubt that is in the cards for her.
So, my plans are just to keep her busy and happy doing what is safe and comfortable for both of us. I'll let the other horses tackle the scary stuff, and accept Gabbrielle as my child who has an incurable anxiety disorder. I'm not giving up on her. I'm just being realistic about the amount of time she needs to get out of her comfort zone.