2017.02.19: A Study On Failure

This February weather is glorious! The windows are open, there is a breeze now and then, but the sun feels radiantly warm. I was looking forward to going out to work Storm, but also knew that for him it was going to be really warm wearing his winter coat still. I found him laying down for a nap in the pasture, and approached softly hoping to let him stay down for a while. I got a few scritches in on his back before he decided to get up. He seemed to be in a great frame of mind, so I haltered him and we headed for the barn.
All was well until he saw the car dolly sitting up in the parking area. His head went up and he wasn't happy. I took him into the barn, and he could see it through the window since it was bright white against everything else in the background. He was so fretful about it that he actually pooped in the barn aisle. I just groomed for a while and decided it was probably best not to work him.
He was grazing energetically, with occasional jumps and starts from the gusting winds and, really, from nothing at all. He spun around once, but never ran off, and as he found a tiny measure of calm, he would finally graze again. While he chewed the remnants of winter grass, my brain chewed over the choice to stay within the safety of the barn yard. Is that failure? Is it failure to take a step forward. I decided to try to move towards the driveway and the scary things. So as he was calm, I asked him to move across the barn yard, always taking him to spots with lush grass. We did make it across the yard, and hung out along the fence next to the driveway. The wind would rustle, and he'd startle. Or nothing would move, and he'd startle anyway. He was doing a reasonable job of managing his emotions, and I was working hard to keep myself grounded despite his worry.
We grazed for about an hour, and I finally took him back over to the "safe" side of the yard, and let him graze on his own while I prepared feed for everyone. he did well for a long time, even with me leaving the barn to go grab other things. He did eventually got bored, and tried to wander into the barn, but I sent him back out again to find a good patch of grass while I finished getting ready. My other boarders arrived, and that sent him into a tizzy as we dumped feed, and moved things around. I had to go retrieve him from running back and forth along the fence and have them finish dumping the feed in for me while I held him in the barn yard. I got him into his stall, and he ate and walked the whole time, eventually pooping and smearing it all over his stall as he walked circles. I finally turned him out again, and he headed out to roll right away. He was sweaty from just standing in the barn yard in the heat of the sun and fretting a bit.
So was the decision to not work him a failure? Is it a failure that at almost 9 years together I still can't just hop on and ride? Is it a failure that I chose a smaller step instead of really pushing the two of us? I don't think it's a failure, but it can be a disappointment that we aren't further along than we are. It is frustrating that we still have these days when he just isn't manageable to actually do work that is productive. It is disappointing that we end up stuck in the barn yard just grazing while he has his fits and starts. He'll be 15 in another month, and this is not what I expected... I certainly didn't expect this to still be continuing after 9 years of a partnership together.
I try to continue to put one foot in front of the other, and to take each day as a new day, independent of the previous days, with no expectation of where we'll be or what we'll do. But sometimes, that is very hard.
Next Page: 2017.03.22: Trimming Up