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So Many Thoughts and Emotions

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.

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10 am naps in the sun doesn’t really seem like a bad life

 

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.

Waggy stealing a drink from the horse water trough

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.

Just a casual picture of my Smokey cat. Except she is in the living room where she is not allowed. The bedrooms are separated from the living space by a screen door which she has learned to open and now goes any where she darn well pleases. 

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.

29 thoughts on “So Many Thoughts and Emotions”

  1. I can sympathize- that’s a really tough choice! But I think that’s a great idea to go try the horse, you’ve got absolutely nothing to lose by sitting on him. And test rides are my favorite! This is your time to test the buttons to see how broke he is, so I like to do lots of transitions between and within gaits (does he have brakes? does he take a lot of leg? is he more of a woah ride or a kick ride? does he mind repetition or does he get flustered by pressure?), and lots of different figures (how bendy is he? how sensitive off my leg through turns is he? does it feel like he wants to stay on the rail, or is he happy to go wherever? does he have more trouble turning one way or another?). I think you can learn a lot about a horse by doing pretty simple flatwork- and then of course popping over a few jumps. I can understand the nerves, but I definitely hope this ends up being a positive experience! Can’t wait to hear about it.

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    1. Good tips! Thanks! I’m nervous but excited. After thinking about it I really think the best choice for everyone would be to downgrade Gem to trail horse extraordinaire and hunter Pace Queen as that is what she loves to do and give her a break from all the arena work.

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  2. I totally understand where you are coming from. As an adult amateur myself, with a career and children, I too have only so much time to spend riding and when I do ride, I want to enjoy myself. Life is too short to not have fun with your horse is my motto haha. I think it is ok to admit a horse doesn’t mesh with our personal riding goals and there is no shame in that. I don’t think horses mind being retired and just hanging out at all. I say go for the test ride. Heck, try out as many horses as you can! You are not less of a rider if you choose to own a different horse to ride/show than Gem. If you choose to “retire” her as a part time trail horse, there is no harm in that. Or if you choose to see what the next 2-3 years bring as you both gain more confidence in dressage/jumping, that’s OK too. Do what is right for you and your situation and know that many of us have been there and totally get it! 🙂

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  3. happy to chat with you any time! seems like you’re really thinking seriously about all the what ifs and whys and hows tho, which are really questions that ultimately only you can answer. as far as i’m concerned, there’s nothing to be lost by exploring new opportunities and possibilities, even if what you discover is that, “Eh it’s nice but it’s not for me.”

    in terms of the actual trial ride… i don’t have a ton of experience but i would encourage you to be really really thoughtful about how *you* feel during the process, and not worry at all about what anyone else might think. are you comfortable around the horse? picking his feet and tightening the girth and moving him around? from a riding perspective, does it feel safe? can you wtc in both directions – in big and small circles? ground poles or small jumps? in a best case scenario, it’s great to have your normal trainer with you during a trial ride. if that’s not possible tho, maybe think about running through a lot of the same things you would normally do in a lesson. also ideally, if you think it’s maybe a good fit, ideally they’d be ok with you doing a week or two week trial with the horse at your home. good luck and keep me posted!

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    1. Trainer will be there plus she has known him for 5 years and has a lot of insights to share on him. I’m excited! The more I think about it the more I realize how Gem would be better off in charge of trail rides and hunter paces and allowed to never see another jump in her life again. We’d both probably be happier with that agreement

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  4. I literally just SQUEE’D aloud when i read the second paragraph. OMG OMG OMG. I am so excited. And you know what it costs NOTHING to go look (well besides your trainer and your time!!). I agree you need a horse more in align to what you want to do. Am I pushing Gem to the back. NOPE but horses like attention and as long as you hop on her once in awhile and continue to mess with Gem I dont think she will really care. And she is getting older. And SINCE YOU HAVE A FREAKING FARM GO FOR IT. If this horse is not the right one there is no loss! Just keep looking.

    I am so excited. Good luck. See how comfy you feel on him, walk trot canter and do some x rails or something just to get a feel. See if you can walk on him outside the ring as well. You like to trail ride and want to event, no need to get a ring horse that wont ride outside. It is great your trainer knows him.

    and in the wise words of Sprinkler Bandit? RUTHLESSLY EXCLUDE (Trademarked by her)! HA HA HA

    SO EXCITED 🙂 (You would think I was trying a new horse wouldnt you?)

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  5. Everyone else has already said what I’m thinking, AND it sounds like you’ve figured out the perfect solution for Gem so she isn’t default retired if/when you find a new ride.

    Honestly, this entire thing sounds like a win/win for her AND you!!

    Except for the tack thing. THAT is a nightmare.

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  6. Everyone has their own riding journey, so only you know exactly what you want. Well, have an idea what you want, because I think most of us have only an idea of what we want. To me, if Gem really isn’t into jumping, then it will always be the hard kind of work just to get it done. And with a job and kids, that doesn’t sound that fun. If she loves trail, and you can swing another horse that likes eventing/ jumping I say go for it.

    As for the test rides (fun and nerve wracking for me). Really watch the seller ride/ handle horse first. Note how the horse reacts to a person the know. If they don’t mind, video them jumping so you can review it later. then when you ride, get trainer or someone else to video you going on him. Like everyone else said, try everything you want to do with the horse within reason. Hard part is not falling in love. I totally loved a little blue roan that frankly wasn’t a perfect match but was super cute and chill, and the owner wanted more than I could pay. Hopefully your trainer will have a good eye for if the match works.

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    1. I truly think Gem would be happiest going back to being a trail horse and Bieber doing flat work or jumping again. We will see how this ride goes and where I go from there but I think I’m going to move up my time frame in my head a bit

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  7. The only advice I can give is that there is loving a horse and clicking with a horse. Sometimes you are lucky to do both, but not always. Sometimes a horse you click with in the past isn’t the right horse now (I’m a collector so my guys are just with me for life because, we’ll, love). But change is ok. Life is too short to try and fit a square peg in a round hole. Been there, tried that with my appendix and he was miserable and quite frankly, it was dangerous. So, we do the job he likes (trail rides) and we’re both happy. For the stuff I want to do? I found the best horse in the world and while he’ll never be mine (just not in the cards… my retired guy, appendix, and mini are all I can do), he’s the best match I could ever have asked for.

    So, go look, see what’s out there, and maybe the right horse will come around? If it’s right, something will click.

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  8. I think that you answered your questions as you wrote. 🙂
    Go and try hm and see what happens. Wouldn’t it be fun for all three of you to ride together.

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  9. Definitely an interesting position to be in. Honestly, you are in a position where you have nothing to lose by looking and potentially everything to gain. Riding to me is something that is fun above all else. There have been times where Scarlet’s greenness and my greenness back, in the beginning, made riding scary and not fun. But the reason I stuck with him was that I loved jumping and he did as well. It was simple to point him at a jump and remember why riding him was fun. If Gem doesn’t do that for your goals, it isn’t fun. Nothing says that you can’t keep riding her on trails. She can handle that without being in peak condition. Those pastures she has should keep her in shape for that pretty well. If this potential horse locks on and pulls you to the jumps, that is a feeling like no other.

    You also get to keep Gem no matter what. I’d say go and ride if he is still available. Once you’ve actually tested him, you’ll have a better answer for your questions.

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  10. If you’re checking out this gelding (or any other for that matter), I would make sure to ask about his behavior around mares in turnout, since a predisposition to mounting mares would be an issue in your specific herd. I would also ask if he is territorial about mares when turned out with other geldings. I’ve seen this be an issue in herd situations also.

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  11. I know how hard this post is to write. I have made this decision before in the past when a horse I was bringing along just wasn’t working out.

    She and I got along well under saddle but on the ground she just hated me (and yes, it was very “me” specific, and I could never figure out why).

    I think it came down to the fact that whilst she was obedient under saddle, she didn’t enjoy jumping/eventing and it certainly wasn’t something she was just magically gifted at. However, she was super on the flat, but that wasn’t what I wanted.

    I made the choice to sell her (as she was young and I couldn’t afford to buy another one, nor would retirement make sense at 6 years old) because as someone who rides for fun, I wanted a horse I a) got along with and b) got along with me and c) loved what we did together.

    I’m not a pro, I have no point to prove in making her do what I want. I’m an ammy rider who just wants to learn and enjoy the journey. I have no regrets in moving her on to a home she was better suited to (low level adult riding club and trail riding) where she still is and is still loved.

    My journey to find the next horse definitely wasn’t smooth sailing but for what it’s worth, the horses I have had since I have truly loved riding and working with. So whilst I didn’t get back out competing as soon as I hoped, I still strongly believe in finding the horse that works for you and your personality as well as your skill level.

    It’s a lot easier to enjoy the ride that way.

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    1. Gemmie will be with me for the rest of her days but I’m not sure I want them to look like a big battle. I also haven’t sat on much on anything for 8 years no so it will be interesting to see why I actually do mash well with

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      1. That’s the benefit really of her age and your situation. You can keep her and she’ll be so happy. But Fox with me was like Nash with Wyatt.

        Too young to be retired and turned out, it just didn’t make sense and it wasn’t fair.

        Take your time, see what happens and trust your gut.

        But don’t feel guilty for wanting something that’s a bit easier and better suited for what you want to do.

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