Need COTH advice - not wanting to ride - what to do with horses?
I know this topic has been discussed many times. I'm in a real funk right now and am not sure which way to go.
Mr. PoPo and I have three horses that we keep at home (I know, first problem, right? ). We recently retired Mr. PoPo's horse so we really only have two riding horses, and they're both mine. I've had Paddy for 5 years now and have had a lot of fun with him. We've done some eventing, lots of trail riding, some general goofing off, and dressage. He's an amazingly wonderful horse and just practically perfect. Unfortunately, Paddy is too small for Mr. PoPo, otherwise I wouldn't be in this situation, but oh well.
In the spring I found myself wanting a fun project to play with. At the time I thought I should be shopping for Mr. PoPo's new horse (his horse was not yet retired but I knew it was coming) but he talked me out of it and told me to get a horse for myself. I ended up getting a barely-broke mustang, Mac. Mac is a lot of fun but really doesn't know anything so we've started with basics (catching, tying grooming, trailer loading, baths, fly masks, trail riding, longing, etc.) and he's coming along, albeit somewhat slowly due to a couple of factors.
I find myself in a funk with regards to a lot of things: work (hate it but it pays me well for a PT job), riding, being social, etc. I'm working on potentially changing the work situation but for now it is what it is. Social, well that's not COTH-related so whatever.
The riding thing is really getting to me. I am really just not into it right now. On a daily basis I make excuses for not riding - today it is because I have to fix fencing. Yesterday I had a dentist appointment, the day before I did have a lesson, next week I'll come up with other reasons, I'm sure.
On one hand we do well in our lessons (Paddy) and I love to show. On the other hand, I'm so unmotivated and uninterested in practicing at home that I'm not keeping up his fitness as I should. Because of my current work schedule I'm tired when I get home from work and need downtime to decompress. In the past I have worked fewer hours and I could go trail riding after work or something fun like that but that's not the current situation.
With Mac, he is a fun project but he's not an athletic horse and he's not going to be a show horse. What he DOES do well, and which is my favorite thing to do anyway, is go out on the trails. I'm enjoying him very much in that aspect. He IS a stinker, though, and due to his continually taking my tape fencing down, I'll be spending the weekend getting a new ground rod in and the fencing re-wired . . . again!
I don't really want to sell either of them. But I feel bad just letting them sit or working them only a couple days a week. If Paddy is to continue with his dressage training then he needs consistent work and increased fitness, although I'm not interested in doing it myself right now. It is possible that I could send him to my coach's place for training or a lease, or she could take over the ride. I'd actually be happy to have her show him on my dime.
OTOH, I could possibly find a new home for Mac but I really enjoy taking him out on the trails and seeing him learn and explore the world.
I do actually enjoy riding Mac more than Paddy right now - maybe it is because the work I'm doing with Paddy in dressage is so much harder and I don't have the mental energy at this time in my life to keep up with it.
Lease him. There's bound to be an AA or JR out there who love to work with him. I just picked up a lease on a pasture puff so I'd have two rides a day. I'm loving it, and horsey is at his stall door waiting for his turn every day, so I'm thinking he must be enjoying it too.
You know what? You don't have to make any decisions right away.
I barely rode this summer. I was probably the only one at my barn who was happy (ish) about the heat because I couldn't ride anyway. It was too much effort to tack up, so while I worried about keeping Ted in good condition and keeping him going basically nothing happened.
Then I was out of the country for 2 weeks, and came back with bronchitis. So I'd say I haven't really been gung ho since ...April?
So don't worry. If you think this will continue, by all means lease. But there's really no need to put any pressure on yourself. Ted does not greet me at the gate with, "So when we gonna RIDE?" I bet your horses are just fine.
Under a rock, up in the hills of Sage, So. Calif, southeast of Hemet & north east of Temecula
Agree w/Dressage Geek
I do agree w/Dressage Geek's reply above. I took the summer off from riding as I had lost the desire back in May. As the weather cools, I am feeling desire starting to come back. I made the right decision to just back down for awhile.
Don't pressure yourself.
There is no such thing as "bad" horsemanship or "good" horsemanship. There is simply Horsemanship or the absence thereof.
I have been riding 6-7 times a week for about 30 years. Lessons, events, schooling. Then about four years ago I decided to 'back down' as my current horse was older. Got a young horse to start. He was fun and kept my commitment level up. But he had major soundness issues so I had to let him go. Rode my old guy again and was getting geared up for show season again when he went thru a major immune system issue. So I went to NO riding. Then when he was better I had health issues. I ended up riding about twice in one year. Then another year and I rode once. I found I really didn't miss it. I enjoyed looking after my horse, but didn't miss riding. Now it has been another year and I try to ride once a week...just hacking for fun. That is enough for me. I think, like you, it was my work, my health issues, my horse's health issues, everything. I was really glad I didn't have the two horses. Decide which makes you happier. If you want to keep your current horse, keep him and don't worry about the dressage. If you want to lease him and work the mustang....do that. Or do nothing. Really as long as the horses are taken care of, they really don't care. For me, I am shocked at how little I feel like riding, but I am glad I have my guy around to jump on when I feel like it.
Could you try a different sport for a few weeks or months? Train for a limited distance ride, go to a western playday, etc.? Dressage, while rewarding and satisfying, is a perfectionist discipline and doesn't leave much room for error. Is there something else that's more instantly gratifying in the "fun" sense, like a trail class or something similar? I joined a rodeo drill team this summer and it was awesome. I was getting frustrated with riding as well, but wearing glitter, going to parades, practicing different moves, it all got my groove back, if you know what I mean.
send some of their smart literate deer who can read road signs up here since ours are just run of the mill dumb ones who get splatted all over creation because they won't stay in the woods
Pa-eternally laboring in the infinite creative and sustentative work of the universe
Most of my friends dont ride anymore.... so...... I put ads in for rides each Sunday. .....
you'll see them in the Endurance and Trail Riding section.
You'll meet some really neat people, and have a good time.
I would see if you can find someone to ride with. I found that as I got older and left my riding friends (went to college, etc) it was harder to motivate myself to be at the barn on my own ALL THE TIME. There were some nice people there - but they were a lot older than me, and one other college student, so I'd ride with her when I could. I think having company makes a huge difference! And also remember - chances are your horses don't mind not being ridden! They'll be quite happy turned out as long as you give them some attention and the care they need, obviously.
Hang in there. I like the idea of trying a new discipline too - last summer at my ranch job I discovered a love for Western, especially as I lost my nerve over fences due to a bad fall. Unfortunately I live in the wrong country for Western, so when I start back again it'll have to be English.
"Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
"With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Join the Club.
As others have said, your horses could care less if they are working as long as the food keeps coming along with the occasional scritch.
Having them at home you are still interacting.
The riding is your discipline unless you are a serious competitor or short-listed for the Olympics
I got my new horse in December.
He is trained up the wazoo (retired as a GP Jumper within the last 4 years)
We had some awesome get-acquainted rides then I sprained my ankle in March - not riding - and it all went downhill from there, riding-wise.
By the time I was sound again it was godawful hot & there went my incentive to get on.
In May I got a freebie project pony.
He is mainly a companion, but could be retrained to drive.
Could be if I got off my arse & worked with him more....
As an "experienced" (read: Old) rider I am mad at myself for not getting on the one & working with the other more often. I have my own goldurn indoor for crissake!
But that same experience makes me realize my horses are not pining away from lack of use & will be there for me when I have the time/incentive/wherewithall to ride again.
Don't beat yourself up, it will come back.
We horsepeople appear genetically pre-disposed to enjoy the company of horses
*friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon: Steppin' Out 1988-2004 Hey Vern! 1982-2009 Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
Ditto the prevailing sentiment here. The horses don't mind, it doesn't have to be any more than YOU want it to be. I enjoy just tinkering with my two, and am rediscovering trail riding. Alas, have to trailer an hour--into the city, no less--to be where I feel safe & have like-minded company; getting old is he!!. I have a spot in a horsemanship clinic in October that I've literally waited for years to get with my good horse, and I admit to having motivation issues getting him fit enough. My other guy struggles with a soundness issue, and has some major mental demons from his past. We do what we can, when we can, and I enjoy just seeing him overcome the demons--that's majorly satisfying, and it happens in it's own time. How nice to NOT be in a hurry!
My horses are very happy, very healthy, very settled and grounded these days. Seeing that, and knowing I'm what makes it that way for them is ... enough.
"One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine