I really loved reading everyone’s comments on the last post! I got quite a few texts/emails from some of ya and I seriously can’t tell you how much I appreciated being able to bounce ideas off of y’all.
I had originally included this post’s content in the Discussion Board post, but really…it needed it’s own post. It’s still messy and a bit all over the place because that’s where I am right now with this whole line of thought. Which drives me crazy. Sigh.
P is set for a re-check this Wednesday. At the vet’s request, I emailed her pictures of his foot last Friday and she made the comment that it looks great and he should be able to get back to work soon. Which should’ve been good to hear, right? But…it wasn’t. If anything, the closer he gets to being cleared, the more I’m finding I’m dreading it.
Of course the ideal plan is for him to go to Trainer B’s for awhile. Or at the very least, trailering him to Trainer B’s for rides, especially those initial jumping ones. But eventually I’ll have to take back over and, well, I sort of don’t want to. One guess why.
Awhile ago I wrote a post detailing how exactly my horse is so great. And it’s a loooong list…with literally one negative. The negative being that sometimes he stops at some jumps. And while I kept telling myself to just be grateful that my horse is so awesome in so many ways, the stopping really is a biggie. I love eventing and it’s what I want to do, but 2/3 of eventing is jumping. It’s hard to enjoy it on P because you literally have zero clue if you’re going to take off or not. He’ll pop over a Training level trakehner and then 5 minutes later, stop at a cross-rail. Every jump is a surprise with him.
Now, I can’t pretend this is just P’s issue and I’ve had nothing to do with it. I’ve had P for just about 5 years now and this horse is so in tune with me it’s a little creepy. Looking back, he’s always been that way with me and while it’s so great in so many ways, I’ve made a ton of mistakes that I don’t know we can ever truly get 100% past.
Conversation to every jump:
Me: Are you going to jump this?
P: Do you think I should? I’m feeling some hesitation on your part.
Me: That’s because I don’t know if you’re going to go. So are you?
P: I dunno. You don’t seem too sure.
Me: No, YOU don’t seem too sure.
P: No, YOU don’t seem too sure.
And on and on it goes.
See, re-starting a young OTTB wasn’t exactly new to me and I did a pretty good job putting a solid foundation on him. He was reliably w/t/c, cruising around small courses and had had lots of field trips to become a solid citizen off-property. But about a year and a half in, we reached a point where I had zero clue where to go next. Kudos to me, I know my limits and reached out for help. Bad on me, the people I paired us up with were not only not good for us, but pretty detrimental. The result was a devastating loss of confidence all around- I had no confidence in myself or in P, and P had no confidence in me.
I think we can all agree that Trainer B has done wonders for the two of us, and for that, I’m eternally grateful. But having P out of commission for so long has seen me riding other horses and I have to say, those were some of the best rides ever. Take cross country. I LOVE cross country, but with P, I never knew what was going to happen fence to fence. The best parts of XC with him are the long galloping stretches between fences (because he’s AWESOME to gallop) and going through the finish flags, because then there are no more fences to stress over.
When I took S in his first little HT I had a great time on him during the course because he’s the kind of horse who, while you do have to ride him confidently to all the fences, is pretty honest. As long as you don’t screw it up, 9/10 he’ll go.
When I took C in the HT a few weeks ago, I had an absolute BLAST. For nearly two years now, Trainer B has told me that I want to feel like I’m being dragged to the fence. It wasn’t until riding C that I finally understood what he meant. He gives you that feeling that he’s not only NOT going to stop, but that he really enjoys what he’s doing. And I want more of that.
So that’s where the possibility of Horse #2 started. My budget will always be green, baby OTTB. And that means a horse who’s not show-ring ready and needs some time and work. Which gives me time with P (or time for Trainer B & P) and also takes some pressure off P. Because I put a lot of that on him and on myself.
I have a few different scenarios for how this plays out and I’m not even close to deciding which one is the most likely outcome. Some of it is out of my hands and only time will tell. But I’ll likely have to make some decision at some point and I’m dreading having to do so.
It’s entirely possible that P will come back and we’ll go on to do some great things. Maybe we’ll get back to where we were when the suspensory strain happened, and get back to Novice with a goal of Training. But it’s also entirely possible that we’ll have the same issues together and I don’t know if I really want to pursue competing with P if it’s going to be such a struggle and so mentally draining. It’s also a possibility that P reinjures the tendon (or a different one…horses, man) or won’t be able to physically hold up to jumping. I’ve already been sidelined for nearly a year rehabbing P and the thought of “wasting” another stretch of time only to find out that this isn’t going to work makes my skin crawl. It’s the Type A in me.
If I were to give P and I, say, six more months to try out competing together and then finally had to face reality that it’s not worth it, I’d be kicking myself for having waited to start all over again. That would sideline me even longer while I searched for another horse and started back over from the beginning.
A 4 year old baby P learning to go through puddles:
Now, let’s say Horse #2 is coming along, but surprisingly, P is as well. That would be the best possible outcome here, as riding P at a higher level would only give me more tools with which to use on another horse. And I have to say, I wouldn’t hate the idea of competing 2 horses. Multiple XC rounds? Sign me up.
Now, I definitely have thought about how badly it would suck if I were to have 2 horses injured at the same time. Hello, that literally happened when C arrived a few weeks ago (though it appears to be resolved so we’ll see how he holds up through this week), and it was no fun. It was also no fun when I broke my ankle running inside of a gym and had to be out of the saddle for 12 weeks. Things happen. Believe me…I know that all too well, but I still go to the gym.
There are two main things holding me back from actually wanting to buy another horse, though.
Number 1: The possibility of having to get a new saddle. Yes, seriously. Saddle shopping? I’d rather run a mile barefoot over Legos.
Number 2: That I won’t like a new horse as much as P. For how much I hate P’s stopping, I love everything else about the horse. You simply can’t beat his personality. If I could shrink him, I’d bring him home to live with us in the house.
For me, the time it would take to ride/train/care for 2 horses each day was what I initially felt would be my biggest challenge. But after what Bree commented on my last post about having two, with one preferring a more easygoing lifestyle, taking the leap and getting another may actually turn out to be a good balance, with all hopes and dreams and plans not being pinned on just one unsuspecting equine.
So I’m really no closer to a decision than I was a few weeks ago when I first started thinking about it seriously. There are a couple of nice horses on the market right now, but there will also always be more down the line. Right now I just need to get through this week to see what the vet says about P and how old man C holds up to some actual riding.