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New Horse Nerves

The PPE is scheduled for Friday. Hopefully it goes better than the last one. I’m not sure I have the money in my budget for a third PPE. Who knew it would be so expensive to not buy a horse?

All your positive thoughts are much needed and appreciated!

Wyatt adores the hammock. He kept me company all weekend while I crammed useless factoids into my brain. 2 days left!!

As it grows nearer I find myself growing a bit nervous. Not about E. I’m super excited about him. He is a pretty great match for my current needs and skill set. It’s just…well… I’ve had Gem for nearly 8 years now and that’s a pretty long time to get to know her. I’ve ridden her for thousands of miles and spent hundreds of hours on her back.

I know that mare inside and out. I can tell you just how fast we are going by the feeling of my posting. I know each hoof fall and how it should feel. I know how much she eats and drinks. I know when she will be hot and grumpy versus frisky and ready to go. I know her breathing.

Waggy enjoyed the time outside in the shade of the Bradford pear as well

For her part Gem knows the rules of being here. She knows what is expected of her in every situation. When to stand still and when to move. She knows to slow down around Wyatt. She can read my own moods and actions. There are so many little things that she does that I take for granted but in actuality rook years of effort to get to such as trailering well and settling in after traveling like a pro.

Dusty broke his hand this past week and required surgery, He tried to get me to do it and while the hand mimics the foot and the same principles of fracture fixation apply, there was no way I was taking responsibility for that. So now he is in a cast for the next 6 weeks and all my vacation plans for next week are pretty much destroyed. 

Getting a new horse, any horse, will be starting all over with that. It’s going to take a long time to learn everything all over again. To build that level of knowledge. One thing endurance is great at is getting you to know your horse and maybe I will dabble in some 25s just for that fact. There is very little guessing when they aren’t quite right. I could tell when every hoof was hitting normally in all circumstances. When tripping meant too long of a hind toe. When being sluggish was due to attitude or health.

I’m nervous about entering into the unknown. About questioning everything because I don’t know what his normal is. I’m excited to start learning everything about him, whether that is E or another horse, and building this relationship again but I’m also nervous. I tend to always think I’m braking my horse. its an annoying internal dialogue that goes along the lines of “Gem stumbled a bit…is she off…is she lame and I don’t know it…I’m asking too much..she can’t possibly work this hard…there she did it again…I’m hurting her…etc….”

The 100 miler killed most of that off with her. After we completed that I figured that she could handle most of anything else I was asking of her, well physically at least. Knowing myself though, this inner dialogue will return with new horse until I figure out what exactly the normal is and what all the horse can do.

We went up to the opening night of Saturday Night Lights at TIEC this weekend and happened to catch the Kentucky Derby on the Jumbotron. I’m not a Derby person and knew nothing about the horses running, but it was neat to see it on the big screen. 

It’s hard to step out of the bubble I’ve created over the last 8 years. Sure Gem is hard and tricky and sometimes a pain in the butt, but I know what I’m getting with her. I know her reactions. I know what will spook her and how she will react. Learning a new horse, especially one the polar opposite of what I’m used to, is going to be a huge learning curve.

And we ate sushi there. Expensive and upcharged due to being at TIEC, but very very good. 

Not only am I going to have to learn his way of going and his body, but while doing so I’m going to have to learn to let go of the things I learned with Gem. Not all of them because so many lessons she taught me made me a better rider, but it also taught me to be distrustful and defensive. This particular horse doesn’t need that. Trainer tells me I have to give permission for Gem to do what I ask however at least 50% of the time she doesn’t do it so it is hard to let go. The new guy in town should, if his history and my test ride pan out to be good predictors, do the thing by his very nature. Punishing him for doing what I ask will not be a good thing and I’ll need to trust him as we grow together.

We also watched some of the horses go. It was an exciting course with very few clear rounds and a lot of dropped poles everywhere. Most notably the water and the wide oxer in the bottom right corner which was the last fence. So many riders had clear rounds only to crash through the last fence. This past weekend was a $70,000 2*

Partnerships take time to create. I know that. It took 3 years with Gem for her to open up to me.

Wyatt got a super cool face paint job, rode the carousel, enjoyed the bounce house, ate ice cream and cotton candy, and then played football and tag with the slew of other children on the turf hill while we watched the rounds. It is a really nice venue for families. 

I’m nervous. And excited. And ready for the future.

31 thoughts on “New Horse Nerves”

  1. The hardest part with getting a new horse for me has hands down been learning all those little in between daily things about him. Forget the riding transition–that’s a breeze in comparison to figuring out personality, quirks, likes and dislikes, etc. But at the same time all that stuff is the basis of a partnership so seeing it start to play out it so fun!

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  2. omg Wyatt is growing up so fast. That last photo it struck my how much he has grown since I started following your blog. Sorry Dusty about the broken hand. That sucks!! UGH…

    And it is always nerve wracking starting something new for sure (Whether a new horse, a new job or whatever) but you will be fine! You got this and with no agenda if the new guy comes home you can take time to get to know him and vice versa. I may not be able to breathe by Friday. LOL……I am just as nervous as you!!

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    1. He has! I keep telling him I am going to ground him if he doesn’t stop growing up. I have to keep telling myself to not create an agenda. My bigger goals need to be set aside for a while through the getting to know you phase.

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  3. You got this! It’s hard to compare simply because of the time difference that you’ve had Gem, but you’ll be just fine. It’s nice that he’ll be home and not at a boarding facility- you’ll learn his personality and quirks a lot faster than those of us who get to see our horses an hour or two per day. Your plan of possibly doing some endurance is a good one also- lots of time to get to know each other!

    Next time you guys go to SNL, let me know! Matt wanted to go up Saturday, but we were exhausted. The kids have a blast when we go there.

    Hope Dusty heals fast!

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    1. I will! Wyatt always has a good time up there and I love that it is free. They actually had us park inside the dressage arena which gave us insanely good parking and no walk at all to get in. Odd though

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  4. oh man, i definitely feel you on all the uncertainty that comes with beginning a new chapter. esp bc… i’m honestly pretty change averse. it freaks me out. but it’s also really REALLY exciting and really really satisfying to go through that “getting to know you” phase and building a new partner from the ground up. it’s actually surprised me how much i’ve enjoyed that process with charlie, and i hope this horse proves the same for you!

    also. unrelated, poor Dusty! hope he heals quickly! and also: i got 9 volunteer hours total this weekend at MCTA Shawan Downs event 😉

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    1. What positions did you do? I’m trying to gather stats to see what is the most common job.

      Thankfully this particular horse is pretty uncomplicated with most things, wears the same size saddle (reportedly) as Gem and hopefully will make the transition as smooth as possible. But still…each horse has its own personality and its all new territory learning it

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  5. I love your idea of trail time to learn one another! Takes some of the pressure away that a showing environment can introduce (or maybe I’m the only one who is more nervous about a show than the thought of an endurance competition lol).

    And I cannot believe how grown up Wyatt is! It’s to be expected in the years since I’ve seen him, but STILL. Now I kind of understand why my parents friends always oggled at me and said “I can’t believe how big you are!” I always scoffed (politely) thinking what a silly thing to say – of COURSE I wouldn’t stop growing in the time they didn’t see me!, but now that I’m on the other side of the convo, boy do I get it! Though I would try my best to NOT say that to any kid because I remember how silly it sounded to me lol!

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  6. One, poor Dusty!! That STINKS!!!! But, I had to laugh at him trying to get you to do it. That’s kind of charmingly sweet and endearing that he trusted you that much to, in theory if not in practice, operate on his hand.

    Two, holy geeze Wyatt, getting so BIG!!! That face painting is cute/scary!!

    Three, I feel you on the new horse thing. I always get so excited…and scared as well. I have a new one coming in at the end of the month on a free lease as my backup endurance horse (I’ll be building her from scratch), and I’m terrified. But excited. But scared.

    Looking forward to what I am feeling good about being a good PPE result on Monday!

    And good luck! Bet you’ll be glad to be done with studying soon!!!!

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    1. Good luck with the new horse!! Endurance training always made sense to me: very the mileage, terrain and pace and monitor the horse’s response to each as they get more and more fit. This while eventing thing blows my mind with how complex and intricate it all is. Hopefully I don’t get this new horse and screw him up!

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  7. Going through all the new horse things not that long ago I totally understand all those feelings! When the first horse I like didn’t pass the PPE (despite being only 4) I was pretty devastated and also shocked at just how much it cost me. For Maestro I just kind of assumed he wouldn’t pass and avoided getting attached at all costs. So then we he did pass I was kind of shocked, lol.
    It has been interesting learning another horse, especially one so different from Stampede who I had been riding for the last 11 years previously (along with Phoenix part of that time but he didn’t jump). What I’ve found though is that he forgives me quickly for the bad habits I’ve carried over and it makes me like him even more. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Maestro more than I expected to and I’ve found that I push myself to be brave in situations where I would have avoided something with Stampede because I don’t want to be limited. Helps build trust for both of us!
    Good luck with the PPE!

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    1. Thanks for the luck vibes! I’m really, really hoping to have a similar experience that you have had with Maestro and learn to be brave and trust the new guy in places that I wouldn’t trust Gem. I already did more in the test ride than I would have done had Gem been with me, so that is a good sign.

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  8. I feel you! I know one of my “preps” in case it’s not so good news after surgery is getting a new horse. Which….I sort of don’t like because I only want to have Amber right now and do the things on her lol. So I completely feel you on the nervousness. I think you’ll be okay tho! It’s certainly nerve wracking to start a new chapter, but considering you hit it off with E so well initially, I think it’ll still be a positive experience for you 🙂

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  9. Fingers crossed. Your shopping reminds me how much I dislike shopping, let alone for horses. The PPE is so vital but ugh what a budget drain.

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  10. Fingers crossed and remember that you will not exactly be starting all over again. You will bring much that you have learned with you and a new horse will teach you so many new lessons.

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  11. All my body parts are crossed and I’m doing a pass the PPE dance for you!!!!! I know the initial part can be a bit nerve racking bc of the “unknown” but I really enjoy getting to know a new horse 🙂 there’s something fun about it! Hope Dusty’s hand heals quickly!!!

    Also a side note I got 13 hours this weekend from volunteering (scribed the first day, and then was in the vet box for the 3 day)

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