Horse Life

A Future With P…or Should We Join the Circus?

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.

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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.

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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.

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All parties involved were shocked P went over this on the first try
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ONE WEEK LATER

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.

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Husband jokes that we share the same brain. He may not be wrong.

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.

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And then we end up here.

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.

 

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And we literally had to start all over when Trainer B came into the picture

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.

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Finish flags = relief

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.

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S’ first time on XC and he popped right over the jump that P got us eliminated at 3 months prior

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.

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During my course walk, I’d pegged this fence as one I’d have to kick and cajole P to. C hardly noticed it was there.

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.

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P’s face when you put too much pressure on him

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.

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Literally my marriage summed up in cartoon form

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.

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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.

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When I went rogue and rode him in my air boot. Oops.

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.

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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.

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Definitely a huge part of the family

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.

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P would honestly most likely be at peak happiness if he and T-Rex just ran off and joined the circus

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.

 

 

 

25 thoughts on “A Future With P…or Should We Join the Circus?”

  1. This is almost exactly why I ended up with 2 again! B is in no way motivated to jump the jumps (or even do dressage some days) and it kind of sucks the fun out of it. It was pretty eye opening for me to ride some horses who love their jobs and will help me out a little more. Fingers crossed some great opportunities come your way ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. I didn’t comment on your previous blog post, but I have had as many as three horses (2 riding horses, 1 mini/driving horse).

    When I had 2 riding horses, Suzie was on the cusp of retirement and it worked out really well, since Annie was freshly started. I didn’t have the pressures of having to ride 2 horses plus I could focus a lot of my time on Annie. Unfortunately, I put Spud (driving mini) on the backburner and I didn’t put a lot of time into him for the last two years, which makes me a bit sad…. It was important tho, bc Annie needed that time invested in her.

    I now have 1 riding horse and 1 driving horse (mini). And I finally feel like I’m at a good spot,. Annie is more “confirmed” and I can now spend more time working Spud as well. Annie is also more reliable ponying now, so Spud gets exercised way more.

    Of course, my situation is a bit different because I self-board and my horses are the only ones on the property. When I had Suzie, I purchased Spud (mini) first and foremost to keep her company. The fact he was a driving pony was icing on the cake, so that I could utilize him in other ways vs just as a companion horse.

    I don’t think I would have the time to have two full time riding horses though. Having a driving pony and riding horse keeps me busy enough, haha.

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    1. I definitely could never juggle 3, so kudos to you! I agree that having two horses in different stages is the best idea when you have limited time.

      Self-board seems like it would be much more difficult time-wise, since you’re responsible for all the care as well. I definitely don’t think I could manage it if I had them at home or in a self-board situation!

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  3. Such a hard decision. If you did get P 2.0 and P came back to being your #1 guy, you could always sell 2.0 and re focus on P or make the decision the other way if it became very clear that P had zero interest and wanted to be a trail horse or dressage pony instead. I know it is hard to think of selling P since he is such an amazing horse. Heck, maybe he could become the Tiniest Dictators horse and you two could hit the trail together. So many options are open for you.

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    1. I’ve definitely thought about that- P 2.0 would likely be a much easier sell since he doesn’t have P’s recent injury history. Plus I don’t think I could sell P anyway. He’s safe enough on trails for Matt or one of the kids, and of course, the Tiniest Dictator could take over once his legs grow long enough!

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  4. It could be that if you get a 2nd horse, you don’t jump P nearly as much (or even at all). And that might make him happier!

    have you considered doing a long term free lease on an older horse? Until I got Runkle that was the only way I played it. I got to compete and I had a LOT of fun on some more experienced horses. They did require some maintenance. But I didn’t have to train them and I didn’t have to wait around. Plus if you had a lease, it would be really easy to be like “Hey, 2 horses IS way too much, plz to be taking this one back now”. There are lots of options.

    But seriously, if P isn’t fun to jump all the time, and you want to have fun carefree jumping, then another horse might be exactly what you need in your life!!

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    1. Right now I’m doing a free lease on an older horse, but he showed up NQR that devolved into lameness the first day. I have no way of knowing if he just can’t handle work (he was the one I competed the week before he arrived) or if he got some sort of stone bruise or similar because of his mushy feet. He seems to be sound, so I’m taking this week to see if he stays that way. If he stays sound, I’m leaning towards keeping him for awhile, as he was a ton of fun.

      But if he can’t stay sound and has to go back, then I don’t know if I want to go down that road again for a horse that isn’t mine.

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  5. it’s all so exciting / terrifying to think about. esp the uncertainty…. isabel and P are pretty different creatures and i’m not really sure my experience with isabel translates directly to your situation (esp bc i didn’t own her so that definitely changed the calculus), but as you know we *did* end up at a crossroads with her refusals. and ultimately it meant the end of our competitive partnership. it was an extremely difficult decision making process with so many moving pieces and factors… and sometimes i still wonder what or how i could have done things differently. but ya know. that feeling you had with C of him dragging you to the fences sounds a lot like the feeling i get with Charlie. like when he sees a jump and puffs up to meet it, that feeling is incredible. and it sure beats the “dead” feeling i got to the jumps with isabel, where neither of us really knew what was going to happen.

    obviously i hope things work out with P bc he is such a cool horse and you’ve done so well with him and esp with trainer B in your corner, it really seems like things have just gotten better and better. but just know that, no matter what, there are very few truly *wrong* choices to make with horses, esp if you and the horses are safe, healthy and having fun!

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    1. At first with C, I was all, “He’s rushing the fences and out of control!” But then it was clear that no, he’s just doing his job and enjoying it. SUCH a weird feeling and I definitely prefer it to the “dead feeling” you described (which is exactly the feeling with P 95% of the time).

      I love P and so much about him, but damn, if neither of us is having fun, then what’s the point? This long break could be exactly what he needed and maybe he’ll come back completely different, but I feel like I’ve tried for SO LONG that it may just be time to face the music!

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  6. Yeah that’s a super hard decision. I feel I’m about there with Amber at the moment. Schooling prevents me from getting a second horse until I’m done with it, but aside from that – after all the things that have happened with Amber…. As much as I really really want to try to bring her back, I don’t think she wants to do that anymore, and I don’t want to force her. I think a lot of her current issues that are popping up are a result of her injury as a 2 yr old. So personally I don’t think she’ll get much better than she is now, and problems will just keep coming if I push it. So a second horse it’ll be for me because I’m for sure never letting her go. But, she loves kids, especially a future neighbor’s kid, so I’ve been twirling the idea in my head of letting them ride her as a lesson horse. She’s had other kids on her before, and is so careful with them and loves them, so I think that’d be something really good that she could do. Maybe, if P doesn’t get back to 100%, he can be the “little dictator’s” lesson horse. He always looks to love your kids and is the bestest with them, so that takes the pressure off of you and him to be competition ready. You can bring along the other one while P takes it a little easy.
    As for not liking the next horse, I’d trust your gut, but also be open. I hadn’t even been around Soxie for more than 5 minutes and my gut just knew that she was awesome and I’d love her. And she was and I did. To be honest I’ve never “loved” another horse like I have Amber – she’s my number 1, but I’ve certainly liked many others and also disliked them lol. As much as I tried with my first lesson horse Liam, he just didn’t really want to play ball most of the time, and it definitely took some of the fun out of riding, so I get it. I know I’m going to be very picky getting another horse because I’m not going to be looking to resell it. But if it didn’t work out with a new horse, I don’t think it’d be bad at all if you resold it. The horse would’ve gotten a great restart with you ๐Ÿ™‚ โค
    I don't know if any of this has helped, but I hope it has even just a bit!

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    1. Awwww, sounds like the perfect job for Amber! And keeping P as a second horse (especially for the Tiniest Dictator- once his legs grow long enough) would probably be just perfect for him, as he’s safe for Husband or kids on trails.

      We’ll see, though! He might come back from this loooooong break and be happy to have a job again.

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  7. Oof, this is so tough!
    I definitely donโ€™t have an answer, but will say that we do this because it is fun. And we should enjoy it. And if youโ€™re not enjoying it, well..
    I will say that I think youโ€™ve made so much progress with P, and to an outsider it feels like his refusals are a thing of the past…

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    1. It probably seems like the refusals are a past thing because of how long he hasn’t been jumping. The last two times he jumped were at back to back horse trials and we got eliminated in XC both times ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Now, that could’ve been because his tendon was strained…or it could be because he was trying to tell me, “No thanks” to eventing. I’d pay big bucks to have him tell me in English!

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  8. I don’t think I really have “advice” in this situation, just hugs because it’s never a nice feeling of being stuck with your #1 horse.
    But I reckon whatever you decide, whichever way you go, you’ll all be ok ๐Ÿ™‚

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  9. At the end of the day, we ride because it’s fun. And if it’s not fun – or even not as fun as it COULD be (because the best part of XC shouldn’t be the end of it!) – then that is a big factor to consider.

    The good news is, you’re making a really cool choice: one horse or two! That’s not a bad problem to have. ๐Ÿ™‚ And you’re clearly thinking it through thoroughly so you’ll come to the decision that’s right for you and all involved equines.

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  10. I think you need to wait and see what P end result is (I know you are waiting for check up) and go from there. I still think you are crazy having two and still working, having a family, doing running and crossfit shit etc. Not to mention TWO BOARD BILLS.

    I think you could totally lease P out if you wanted another horse and make them stay at the current facility so you could keep an eye on him. He may be fine for starter stuff with someone wanting to do that. Just a thought. Or dressage queens??

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    1. Well, as long as C stays sound, he’ll be staying for awhile, so I’ve already got two board bills. I hope C is able to hang around, as he really is a lot of fun.

      But I’m trying to think long-term. I don’t think I want to keep trying to make P do things he’s clearly not super excited to do. On-site leasing is a thought, though. He could definitely have a future as a lesson horse for anyone who has the bad habit of leaning forward- his stop will teach you to sit up in a hurry!

      Sara had the idea to just let him be the Tiniest Dictator’s horse. Which would probably be perfect- watch, they go Prelim+!

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  11. Whatever happens it’s horses and I know that we all end up cycling through the good, the bad, the ugly and the downright amazing! Something will click for you that will help you make the right decision.

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