Riding/Horses

Two Rides In And My Whole World Is Shook Up

Tuesday night I test rode two nice horses that were very close to my home. It seemed silly to not try them. Trainer came as well which was very helpful through the entire process. It also helped that I had just sold Nash and experienced what other people do for a test ride as I was pretty clueless what to expect.

I’m still figuring out what all I feel comfortable sharing online about a sales horse. Just because a particular horse wasn’t right for me or my goals doesn’t mean it was a bad horse and I don’t want to harm anyone in the making of these posts. However, I do want to chronicle what I try and how it went as a comparison through the journey. So we will see what I come up with in the coming days.

For now I want to talk big picture. You see, riding Gem has been my entire adult riding experience. For better and for worse. I knew in theory that she was difficult but since it was all I knew I generally chalked it up to me not being a good enough rider. Which in part is still true to a degree. You can only take so many lessons hearing the exact same thing before it becomes a bit demoralizing, you know?

Wyatt caught another small mouth bass in the pond. He is getting really good at fishing

Going into the test ride I was so nervous I nearly had to pull over and vomit out of my car door. These horses were so different than what I was used to. Would I make a complete fool of myself? What if I couldn’t ride them? What if I was scared to death on them? So many thoughts.

Then I showed up and did what I always do when I’m nervous: I talked a million miles an hour about useless stuff. It’s a skill. Then it was time for the seller to get on and Trainer and I watched them go. Trainer was pretty silent and waited for me to make my own comments on what I saw, what I liked and what I was concerned about. When it was my turn to climb aboard, Trainer treated it just like a lesson. She put me to task immediately and we did walk, trot and canter both directions, tested bend and jumped a cross rail on the short side so that we could see how the horse handled after the jump.

Hanging with my bud

I’ll go into more detail on each horse in another post, but here I want to go over my general take aways from the entire experience.

  • Holy crap. Why have I tortured myself for the last 8 years?! I love Gem. That should be apparent, but as soon as I got on these two it was a 2×4 to the head how much easier life is on a horse who is obedient at the most basic level. When I asked to trot, we trotted. We didn’t jig or become a tense giraffe. We trotted nicely at the same pace every stride. Not the “each stride at a different speed to make things interesting” approach I’ve dealt with for nearly a decade. And once I changed gaits it wasn’t the end of the world either. I could canter and return to the trot or walk without a fight. With Gem once we canter it’s game over. I either canter for the rest of the ride or get off. Nothing else can get done.
  • Trainer got to see me on a different ride and gained insight. At the end she remarked how nice it was to see me on something different as it gave her a better understanding about what is a “me issue” versus a “Gem issue”. I still like to carry my lower leg too forward and braced and I still lock my elbows but I can actually use my legs and I can actually cue to canter. And steer. And be steady with my body and not flopping all over creation getting left behind one stride and going ahead another.
Tractor dog
  • I’m not as scared as I thought I was. While I doubt I’ll ever be one for the fast and furious horse (I’m not an adrenaline junky) I can feel comfortable and safe on a horse I just met. Even a 16+h tall horse. I was very worried horses of that size would scare me after riding my tiny Gem for so long. Nope.
  • While my eye for conformation isn’t very honed, I saw all the potential pit falls that Trainer did. Part of me was nervous that I wouldn’t see past the new horse thing for what was truly there. Trainer pointed out some conformational things and training scale things I wasn’t aware of, but in general I didn’t miss anything major in my assessment.
  • I can walk away without buying the horse. I’m not very good at just looking. I tend to buy. I did take a check with me in case things were amazing, but I was able to walk away on my own and think things through over night. The next day I was able to close the door on one of them and keep it open on the other yet still not feel pressured when I told someone else was looking the next day.
You spread lies about me, woman
  • I want a new horse. This is hard for me to admit. I’m committed to Gem. I feel guilty. I’m having a hard time imagining pulling new horse out of the pasture to ride and giving new horse my attention while ignoring Gem. It’s been nearly a decade of just the two of us. Everything I’ve done, everything I’ve learned has been with her. The good, the bad and the ugly. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her. And I’m giving up on her. She isn’t telling me she wants to retire. I’m telling her. And it hurts. But I still want a different horse for this sport. It’s insanity to keep putting my all into a horse who is this inherently difficult. Who makes a simple walk trot easy stretch ride at home degrade into a 45 minute battle to just flipping HALT when asked. At 20 years old. I’m tired of that. I don’t want to do it any more.

I have pictures and video to share of the two horses I tried out Tuesday night and will get those up soon. I haven’t bought either yet though I’m still pretty drawn to the one. If the horse doesn’t sell before Sunday I have the opportunity to take the horse xc schooling at FENCE with trainer and if it went well we might be done with horse shopping. There are some concerns that I have though that may kill it off for good.

But more on that to come.

31 thoughts on “Two Rides In And My Whole World Is Shook Up”

    1. It was eye opening!! And I’m still super drawn to the mare and keep going back and looking at her pictures and video. Its been two days and I’m still thinking about her so maybe that is a sign? Decisions!!!!

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      1. i mean, that definitely seems meaningful to me ๐Ÿ˜‰ a truly positive impression should endure and improve over time, not be a flash-in-the-pan impulsive crush that fades quickly. ideally the right horse will make it really easy for you to visualize what riding and training with it might be like. good luck with all the next steps to come (and plz keep me posted haha!)

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  1. so much fun looking… and you should ride as many as you can. I am so glad both were okay trial rides and glad one is of the list already! Can you imagine if you liked BOTH Of them the same? OY VEY ๐Ÿ™‚ . Fingers crossed you find the right FUN horse for you!!

    You getting a new horse is nothing against Gem. And now that you have your own farm you can have a couple horses without being guilty!! Can’t wait to see what you end up with.

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  2. What a great point about Nash’s new folks testing him and giving you a better idea of what to expect for yourself! Very timely indeed.

    Sara, I’m so, so happy for you that you’re embarking on this new journey! While I know without a doubt you adore Gem, it made me smile so big to hear you write with more conviction about your abilities as a rider during your test ride. You’re a good rider – a strong rider! And you kind of have to be after so many years with Miss Difficult ๐Ÿ˜‰ You’re not closing the door on Gem with a new horse, you’re just opening a new door for yourself simultaneously. You’ll grow so much as a rider with a new horse that I bet when you do pull Gem out to ride, you’ll be able to enjoy her in a whole new way. โค

    Schooling XC on the horse you're interested in sounds like a really wonderful opportunity. If it's meant to be, it'll be, and I hope you get to have that experience on whatever horse you test before your purchase!

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    1. I can;t afford to get a horse who hates xc so any horse I do get is either going to have to let me try them first on a filed or have a nice trial. The one I liked has a 2 week trial too which is nice.

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  3. It is amazing how going out of our comfort zone can tell us so much about ourselves as riders. Definitely try as many horses as you can! You are not giving up on Gem, but rather you are finding ways for you to grow as a rider and that is OK! It is not like you are planning to ship Gem off to parts unknown or she is four years old looking at “retirement”. Don’t beat yourself up. You are doing the right thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Retiring at 20 isn’t the worst thing I suppose and I will still ride her. Just not as my main squeeze any more. Or you know, she could have tried to be just a tad flexible and amenable and this wouldn’t even be an option.

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  4. I totally understand the roller coaster! And I think you really do need to do what’s best for you. Gem won’t mind having some time off, or not being your one and only. In fact, maybe it’ll make her better. Maybe? I’m excited to see what you looked at!

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    1. Iโ€™ve been thinking of that and Emma said the same thing to me Tuesday night when I texted her about everything. Riding an easier horse might not only allow me to grow my skills to better ride Gem but also allow me to take the pressure off her so much. It may be a win for everyone. Except the Hubby. And my bank account

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  5. It’s funny how much you can convince yourself you’re okay with dealing with…until you kind of don’t have to deal with it anymore, and it’s like, “Why did I put myself through all that?!” And there’s nothing wrong with that! I think you’re approaching this whole thing with a good mindset. Fingers crossed you get to take the potential new horse schooling and it’s your unicorn!

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  6. I’m SO glad you got to test out a couple horses (super intimidating!) and see the fight that Gem puts you through is NOT the norm. Not saying anything against Gem, as I think she’s hilarious and great at what she wants to be great at, but from your posts and seeing you guys school XC, it’s so clear she’s not interested in eventing. And you are…which is OK. It’s not as if you’re going to get rid of her- she has a wonderful home with you for life and she’ll be happier not being asked to do something she doesn’t want to do. Meanwhile you’ll be able to progress as a rider and have FUN instead of always expecting the worst outcome, like you have to while riding Gem. I think it’ll be better for you both. So happy for you!

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  7. I love this post. Horse shopping is a learned skill that many, including myself, need to learn and practice. โค Not many are good at just looking and many do not seek the qualified advice or support/help. I am glad trainer came with you..and as we have said before, I am so glad you have her! I have full confidence you will find the right thing at the right time. Good luck and have fun!!!

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  8. Awesome that your test rides went so well! ๐Ÿ‘ ๐Ÿ˜„

    Just because a particular horse wasnโ€™t right for me or my goals doesnโ€™t mean it was a bad horse

    I’m completely with you on that.
    I’d even go so far and say that there’s no bad horse out there, just horses and riders who don’t ‘click’. With work and persistence one can compensate for being incompatible (or barely compatible), but it’s never going to go as swimmingly.

    Point in case: I’m currently the primary caretaker for a fiery little mare whose owner is – to put it mildly – frightened of her. Won’t even ride her any more, and is paying good money to have her re-trained for pleasure driving (two-wheeled carts).
    But what scares the owner is a great deal of fun for me. Not that I’m an adrenaline-junkie ๐Ÿ˜‹ – but I love an eager horse with a bit of “Go”. Sure, she’s thick-headed, too (Viking through and through) but that just forces me to up my game a bit. Teaching me stuff I couldn’t learn with a more mellow, amiable horse.

    The important part is: We click. We have disagreements, and hilarious goofs, but at the end of the day we enjoy our time together. If I could take my little “Monster” back home with me, I’d probably buy her on the spot. As it is, I’m looking after her with the owner’s (relieved) blessing and help the trainer who is teaching her to pull the cart when he gets a migraine (“Stupid tack! Don’t wanna!” – Argh – “Oh, pull that daft thing? Just you wait, in 5 minutes it’ll be firewood!” – GAH! – “That’s right, fear my Viking fury! Oh look, carrots!” – Over to you, ma’am. Godspeed..) ๐Ÿ˜‰

    One person’s difficult horse is another’s dream pony.

    I wish you all the luck in the world finding your dream horse and I hope you and sweet Gem find a balance that works for both of you. It’s neither your nor her fault you’re no good match.
    Horses, like humans, can only give what they’ve got. Other than humans, they can’t choose whom they end up with.

    Or to put it another way: If I like spice, but all the horse has to give is cotton candy … well, I either need to develop a sweet tooth, or find someone who loves lots of sugar to hang out with him. Wouldn’t be fair to ask the horse for jalapenos, or get mad at him for having none. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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    1. This is really hard ๐Ÿ˜ฆ in a totally whiny first world problem sort of way. I donโ€™t want to pass on something great but I also donโ€™t want to settle and miss out on owning something great. Itโ€™s a big commitment for the next 15 years or more. Like, Iโ€™ll be 50 before I horse shop again. Ugh

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  9. So much of this reminds me of Ozzy. He was my heart horse and I had him for so long and I rode ONLY HIM for a long while. And then I started riding nice horses and it really emphasized just how COMPLICATED and TRICKY Ozzy was. There’s nothing wrong with realizing that and wanting to experience a straight forward horse for a change!

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  10. Gem isnt being retired, she is having an occupaton change: Lawn mower and Trail horse extrodinaire. I have been idly looking and my trainer perked on one and suddenly im having palpitations. But riding another horse just taught me i dont want a total push ride anymore. You cant properly use leg if you are constantly having to apply tons of leg. You will find lore of what you dont like or do as you try others. Hope you find a better fit for XC.

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  11. I personally think this is a) fantastic and b) you shouldn’t feel guilty at all.

    You and Gem did the hard yards for a long time, she is happy and older and quite honestly a horse (she will be more than happy being a lady of leisure I bet, 99% of horses do). There’s room in your heart for more than one, and they never “replace” your previous horse, you just make a new little compartment for them.

    But I am thrilled to see you going into this now with a clear mindset, and I know the perfect horse is out there for you.

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