Winter blues, or facing reality?
This is kind of a ramble, just sort of seeking opinions. My sister tells me I go through this every year in winter, but I don't know. It feels different this year. Circumstances are different.
I have two lovely horses. I have an 8 year old quarter horse mare that is 15.1 hands, well muscled/strong back/good conformation, easy keeper, intelligent and sane, developing nice hunter movement with a natural frame as she learns to use her hind, a smooth as silk canter, and even a hidden jog in there that I am not encouraging. She loves to jump - can free jump 4' nicely without even blinking, thinks 2' is a joke and will rollback and jump it again nearly from a standstill when on her own. She has good feet, not too small, and has been barefoot since I got her, though I've considered shoes if she's going to jump. She trail rides like a dream, has speed if asked for it. Ties for hours if needed, loads and trailers well, backs out, good for farrier, easy to catch. Downside: she's greener than she should be at her age. I got her at 5, unhandled. She's unregistered, though she could be - but her dam needs to be DNA tested even though she was registered and they sent me clipped hair instead of pulled *sigh*. First summer was ground work and about 60 days riding. Second summer we spent in Tennessee and she was boarded away from me and due to problems with the people I was staying with I only got to see her about once per week - and she ended up only ridden maybe 20 times that year. Last year also only about 20 rides, due to treating a sarcoid on her girth line. She is an alpha mare - not mean to other horses - but will test riders regularly. She has a "buck" though it's more of a kick out - when she does it her riders usually ask "what is she doing" because it feels like a large canter stride or going over a jump. So not really a buck... but she's not as "dead broke" as a normal 8 year old quarter horse around here should be.
I also have a 4 year old Morgan gelding who is coming along wonderfully and honestly, is the one I want to focus on. He has a ton of potential as a dressage horse ... which is my preferred discipline. He's 15.2 hh and growing, and a joy to ride. I'm not going to talk much about him, because my dilemna is about my mare.
I'm at a loss what to do about my mare. I adore her. She makes me smile and relax when I ride her ... but so does my gelding. My sister wants to event, and I admit to a slight desire to do so, and I think my mare would love it ... but it's not my passion. I don't really want to sell her ... but I also feel like she should be ridden more. I'm not a huge hunt seat fan, either, and I've had a couple of bad experiences in the show ring with her (she's better alone in the ring, though she's gotten much better as she's more confident). I just don't jump, and she loves to jump. I *have* jumped, but I don't love it, and I feel you need to love what you are doing. She's great on trails ... but so is my Morgan, and honestly, we only trail ride a couple of times a year. We do renaissance reinactment (SCA) and she loves the games ... but again, that's a 1-2 times a year thing ... and my Morgan would be good at that too.
Yes, I can afford both of them. I work hard to be able to, and she's my "cheap" horse as she's happier on pasture, requires no extra feed, etc. But part of the problem is because I work off my board, I have less time to ride. If I sold or leased her, I could do less chores and have more time to ride. One of my instructors (hunt/jump) has said she'd be an easy sell. Her new farrier last week said if she was a gelding (he doesn't like mares) he'd offer money for her (I had mentioned I wasn't sure what to do with her), because she's the type that is, again, "easy to sell" - a nice looking, easy keeping, sane, strong, healthy young quarter horse mare with a good work ethic.
The thought of loading her on to someone else's trailer and watching her drive away breaks my heart - I adore this mare. She's the only mare I've ever really liked LOL. I run a rescue, so it's not that I can't rehome horses - I do it all the time, even ones that I get attached to. She's different. I'm not sure if she's leasable since she's green and would require an intermediate rider ... and most of the people looking to lease in my area (that I know of, maybe I'm in the wrong circles) are looking for the older, dead broke, beginner type horses. None of the people I know that are looking to lease would be suitable for her. I'm a huge giver type - I'd "lease" her for help with my barn chores ... I really just want her to have more attention and a job.
My sister is encouraging me to just get through the cold winter and see where we are this spring. She's probably right - I do go through this every year. But in the past, I didn't have two young, sound, green horses. Fall 2011, when I went through this, I brought my blind, arthritic gelding home and retired him during this slump, which was the right thing for him, even though he was only 14. I focused on my mare and a younger horse that is now leased instead. Three years ago I retired my then -15 year old QH gelding with wobbles to my parents where he has been a very happy trail horse, and at 18 now, is slowing down. I bought my mare instead, and had my last year with the blind gelding. For the first time in a long time I'm facing a year with two young, sound, healthy horses without disabilities and I'm worried I won't do justice to either of them.
I don't know. I don't even know what advice I'm looking for, other than maybe something I've missed? Give it a few months, see if when the weather warms up my feelings change? It is hard to do anything much with the horses right now, and that could be part of it. Both my horses are on a winter schedule right now of trying to lunge at least once a week, and the only real riding I'm doing is cool out work, maybe some transition work. I'm considering sending her to a trainer for 30 days in April for a refresher and then deciding what to do. I think ideally I'd like to find a lease for her, even a partial, just someone who will ride her. Maybe someone who will explore her love of jumping (she's been started over cross rails and 2' jumps). Maybe someone who'll see if she has any interest in gaming? I don't know. I just know that my focus is on the Morgan, he's more suited for my personal goals ... and I don't know what to do with my mare.