Thank You All
Your comments are wonderful. And I do appreciate all the advice. I always remember my first really good trainer, when I told her, after watching her jump Russell over a 5 foot spread jump that it was a shame he had all that talent and he was never going to use it with me as his rider.
"Do you think he cares?" she asked. "He has no ambition and whether or not he can jump five feet doesn't matter to him at all. You do with him what you want to do, and that's all he'll ever need to do."
I do not have to train my horses to any level. They don't care, and are perfectly happy just hanging. What I have to assess is whether or not I want to train them. When I last went to a lesson, I told the trainer I had already trained two horses to FEI, Intermediare I. All I had never really succesfully done was train piaffe and passage. While I would like to train a horse to Grand Prix, if I never show Grand Prix, that's just fine. So, I figure if I can teach either Tuck or Chance to piaffe and passage, I will be a happy camper. I am not sure she comprehended. After all, she is a lot younger than I am and has not been riding and competing for 45 years.
While I do understand the advice that perhaps Tucker is not the horse for me, I must disagree, for two reasons. The first is a simple fact and the second is my opinion.
Tucker is adopted. The agreement is that he is my horse forever and I have promised to give him a home for life. While I do own him under a "safe sell" agreement, I would never break the covenent that I made to give him a good home for life. That's the simple fact.
The opinion is that while he may intimidate me when we have disputes, I do...when I am motivated...truly enjoy the training challenge of figuring out how to get past the problems. If I ever felt he was too much for me to handle-- as I did about hacking him out and, pre-ulcer medication as I did about some training issues--I have many alternatives to getting him trained by someone else. He spent several weeks at "boot camp" with Kenny Harlow to get him over his dangerous behavior hacking out. While he is not the safest hack I have ever owned, we can happily go out and enjoy a nice ride through the woods without too much anxiety. The ulcer medication fixed a lot of his more threatening behavior in the arena, so aside from some training issues such as his bucking when his hocks were sore, he is not too much of a problem to ride there.
He is, however, very opinionated and not the kind of horse I can bully. What he is teaching me is all kinds of techniques to get proper work out of him by persuasion, various exercises, and "asking" rather than telling. It is not always the most direct route, but the intellectual challenge is really intersting.
I am frustrated about the flying change because I know he will buck as he learns. He's just built that way and, unlike Jazz, will change in the hind end first, kicking up to do it. Mental, or physical, I feel very insecure when he does this. I have a feeling that if I work on my seat and learn to sit back in anticipation he will not shake me out of the saddle as he does now. My question is whether or not I can get that security of seat I need. It's a much a "mind game" as a "body game" at this point. What I need to do is "just do it."
Funny thing is, that the very first time I rode Russell R. after I bought him, he bucked me off. I, being a bold 22 year old, marched back to the barn to get him, climbed back on, and went right back to where I'd gone off to school him through it. Later in his training, he too...like Tucker...got into the habit of bucking instead of going forward. After a month or so of that, I, even at 22, was intimidated. I took him to my trainer who got on and had one wild ride to convince him that bucking was absolutely not an option. (She was a shortlisted Olympic event rider with a seat like glue.)
With Tucker, I have come full circle. (Actually, he is much, much better behaved than Russell was at that point!) Been there, done that. I guess I am just a little depressed about having to cope with some of that again. (And by the by, during his training, my dear Toby nearly got my even stickier seated trainer off more than once, so he was no gem either!!)
So, there you go. Tuck is mine forever. We'll work it out. I just have to figure out the best approach to get wherever it is I want to go with him.
And then there's always Chance waiting in the wings.