A draft cross gelding caught my eye this weekend. I contacted the seller and asked questions. I received videos. I asked more questions. I scheduled a time to visit over the weekend and ride him. We discussed a trial.
Then I looked into my pasture at my perfectly sound (currently anyway) able bodied new to me horse, bugged the hubby a whole bunch, and canceled the meet and greet.
I’m not ready to give up on the orange beast just yet. There may be a time when I am, but that time isn’t yet and money spent on a new horse would take all money away from H’Appy.
I formulated a plan which I hope to stick to as long as the orange beast remains injury free long enough for this to work.
Step 1: Get my head out of my own butt, focus on reality and move forward with that. Part of my issue with H’Appy is that he isn’t quite what I thought I was buying. Now I know horses are horses and basically 6 months off didn’t do his training/attitude any favors, but I shelled out quite a bit for him with the idea that I was purchasing some training at the very basics of w/t/c and introduction to jumps around 2′ already installed. No, I didn’t think I was going to hop on him, solve all my riding issues and go tackle a rated BN event, but I did expect to not have to spend 45 minutes arguing that trot meant trot and not canter or walk.
I’ve been through that with Gem and specifically went out with more money in hand to avoid starting over with that.
So when I get on him and have some very Gem-esque rides in the arena arguing that I meant to trot not canter and my half halt means slow and rebalance not use it as an excuse to halt, I get more than a little annoyed. Me getting annoyed isn’t going to change reality though and I need to stop wishfully thinking that he was the perfect gentleman I thought I was buying and instead work with what I do have. I honestly think it is in there, it is just buried under 6 months of vacation and my own riding flaws.
Step 2: Ride the darn horse. Yes, he has had a lot of time off due to his hoof issue and then his back, but the truth is he has had a lot of time off because I wasn’t that thrilled to get on him again. Go back up and read #1 as to why that is. I need to ride him though to get to know him, get his own head back in the game and get a true read of if this relationship is going to pan out or not.
The goal here is to ride at minimum 3 days a week for the next month, squeezing in more time as able. My arena footing still sucks, but it is usable and I have lights so no excuses. I hopped on him Sunday, had a 50% decent ride and will be riding him tonight and Thursday. Wednesday he gets his feet done and the right shoe tacked back on so I can move forward sans one hoof boot. Friday I booked the saddle fitting plus Trainer will be there giving me a lesson as well, so that will make three rides right there with the weekend still available for another trail ride.
More miles, more consistency and more lessons.
Step 3: Boot camp. I’m going to talk with Trainer on Friday about either a 2 or 4 week boot camp. This really depends on him a) staying injury free and b) keeping his shoes on. I think a refresher course for him isn’t a bad idea. It will not only get him some additional training, but will give me more lessons and a different perspective on what he needs for a successful ride. I’m not sure if Trainer offers this or not, but I don’t think she does. If not, I need to find someone close enough that I can do a weekly lesson during this time. It doesn’t help me that a pro can ride him if I still can’t.
Step 4: Reevaluate. After all that, if we are still not meshing or if I still don’t get excited to ride him, then it will be time to move on. Moving on may look like keeping him as a pasture buddy and to hop on every once in a while as a back up horse or it may look like finding him a new home where he could thrive with someone who does enjoy riding him. I’m not sure yet. I’m hoping it doesn’t come to this and that with saddle time, a good fitting saddle, lessons and boot camp we get on the same page. I don’t expect angels to sing at the end of this time, but I do expect to have improvement in our relationship as a whole.
We will see. It is winter and a wetter than normal one at that, so my plans may go off track immediately, but I don’t have a specific time line for all of this to get done. If weather pushes boot camp back a couple of months I am fine with that. My longer term goal is to be able to do either the jumper schooling rounds at FENCE in February or the Riverbend schooling jumper show in March followed by an amobea level (intro w/t dressage test, 18″ stadium round, and tiny xc where only 3 fences are mandatory and the rest you can do as you feel comfortable plus even if eliminated you get to continue on in all three phases unless deemed dangerous) HT in late spring/early summer.
It isn’t asking much. I was there with Gem who was a lot harder to ride at her best than H’Appy is at his worst, so it should be possible. If the darn horse can keep his shoes on, hooves attached and be injury free that is.