First a shout out to Emma for texting with me during a work day while I was stressing out about things and stuff. Mostly things and stuff the hubby is tired of listening to.
Here’s the deal. I have found a horse I really want to try out and potentially purchase. I have a time set up on Sunday to go try him, but there are a number of people already scheduled before me so it may be a moot point anyway. It did, however, bring up a whole lot of thoughts and emotions I didn’t even know I had.
Writing helps me explore those, so you all get to be dragged down with me 😉
Being realistic, I have time to ride one horse. Heck, I barely have time even for that. Gem is a multiple rides a week type of horse. Sure, I could ride her once a month, but it wouldn’t be fun and why put both of us through that? This means that if I did end up purchasing a new horse, Gem would be defaulted to retired status. Not the end of the world for her – nice grassy pastures, twice a day grain and plenty of sunshine for the next decade.
I’m just not so sure I’m ready for that and I don’t know if she is either.
Look, I know she is hard and is making learning a new discipline for a part time ammy rider with confidence issues harder than it needs to be. There are evenings I really, really want to ride, but decide not to because I am already stressed and have no interest in fighting with her.
An easier going, better suited to this sport for my riding ability horse would be a thrill to own. I would ride more often, likely advance more in my skills and abilities and have more fun.
But I love my Gem and I’m not scared of her, I just don’t always want to deal with her crap. I’m excited to see where we would end up in 2-3 years with more work. She has made me a better rider and honestly probably more confident than I realize. It is hard to gauge when I haven;t ridden anything else for so long.
For her part, she still readily meets me at the gate. Now that she is on hold until my exam is behind me, she is starting to give me signs that she misses the work. Or at least the attention the work brought along with it. I don’t think she is ready to be a pasture pet.
Of course, I’m also not sure she really enjoys this new work. She tolerates it and is getting better and better, but like it? Probably not. She is settling into it and figuring out what I’m expecting of her, but she also got ulcers for the first time in her life with me when we started ramping up the schedule. It could have been her heat, the move, the spring grass etc…but she has moved before, had many heats and been out on grass for 5 years all while putting in way more saddle time and travelling a whole lot more with nary an issue. I think it is the stress of the new job.
So maybe retiring her to a second string job would be better for her in her senior years. Even though I’m barely asking anything of her with 18″ jumps, it may be too stressful for her mentally to handle well. Or maybe I’m trying to come up with an excuse to side line her and not feel bad about it.
The other thought I had was that the new horse could be used as a back up horse for a while and keep Gem in the starting line up. I could still ride her twice a week as normal and then squeeze in some rides on new horse when able. But that kinda defeats the purpose of spending that much money on a horse of his caliber. Why bother just to let him sit and age over the next 2-3 years until I’m ready to retire Gem?
And none of this touches on the financial impact of owning two horses. Thankfully, I no longer board or else this wouldn’t even be a consideration, but it still means two sets of tack. My saddles are adjustable which would help as long as the style of panels fits the new horse, but if they don’t it would mean an entire new saddle. Which I probably couldn’t really afford without selling one of my others and I don’t really want to do that. Of course, if I side line Gem I wouldn’t need her saddles any longer as she would be happier going back to riding in her endurance gear and being a trail horse once again. So in theory I could sell both my dressage and jump saddle if needed and not wreck my ability to ride Gem in the way she prefers any way.
I’m really battling over this. The truth is I want a different ride for the arena life. I want to enjoy doing all the things without fighting all the time. I want to not stress about every tiny thing and will it piss the mare off or not. I want it to be easier, not less work, but inherently easier on a more easy going horse who enjoys life as an eventer. And that makes me feel guilty. I love my Gem. She has a forever home with me regardless of what she is doing. She has given me so much and while she is hard, she does try in her own way and gives it all she has even if all she has is being tense and hard to manage.
The hard truth? I want Gem, but I want her to be different and that isn’t possible.
So I’m going to keep my appointment to try out this gelding as long as he is still available by then. Who knows? I may ride him and get off thinking “eh, Gem is better and I wish I had ridden her instead” or I could hop down and go “wow, so this is what I’ve been missing all these years?!”. Either way I’ll learn something about myself and what I want. I can then continue my casual watching of the horse ads that flood my Facebook feed from Aiken for anything else that may catch my eye. I’ve been casually watching it for almost a year now and this gelding is the first one that has really grabbed my attention. Well, the first one in my price range which is hard to find in the area where most horses with experience in eventing are being listed upwards of $15,000 and I refuse to shell out that kind of dough to hop over 18″ cross rails like a boss. My search may end up taking quite a while in the end anyway.
Anyone have any insights on what to do during a test ride? Thankfully Trainer will be there with me, but um…well confession time…I’ve never test rode a horse before. I bought Gem without getting on her due to her emaciated and neglected state. No way was I gong to ride her in that condition and no way was I gong to walk away and leave her there. Anything I should specifically do with said horse while on him? I’m very nervous about the whole thing.