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When the horse you love isn't the horse (you think) you need.

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  • When the horse you love isn't the horse (you think) you need.

    I'm posting this here mainly because I need to get this off my chest and I think writing it down may help. It's in the Eventing forum because eventing is where my heart is and it's where my current heart horse will never take me.

    I should preface this with the statement: I currently have limited resources and can only own one horse at a time.

    Back up 10 years. I was fresh out of college and working at a show barn that imported Friesians from Holland. I had always thought Friesians were beautiful, and loved their romantic look and kind, thoughtful dispositions. Daatje was born during my first winter there and a month later orphaned when her dam succumed to colic. I bottle fed her and instantly fell in love.

    We had such a connection. When she turned six months of age, I bought her and took her home.

    What was I thinking? An eventer buying a Friesian? I think in the back of my mind, I figured that just about any sound horse can make it around BN, and being limited to that level was ok with me. We'd get good at dressage and then tool around at the lowest level for fun.

    Sounds like a plan, right? Sigh.

    Fast forward ten years later.....present day. Horse and I became decent at 1st level dressage, not great, but can get 70's on a good day. We were in training with a GP level rider for a few years, and I discovered that ascending 1st level with this horse would take a committment of time and money that I was not in a position to fulfill. Lessons became more frustration and less learning and we both needed a break. So we stopped the lessons, happily versed in the 1st level and that is where we'll stay, for now.

    I brought her home from the dressage barn and began her training over poles and cross rails. She took to jumping well and over the years, despite her breed, has proven to be athletic and competent up to 3'3", although she's more comfortable with staying under 2'9". So.....that should put us on track for my plans, right? Tooling around at BN should be no problem on a horse that is capable of 3'3", right? Sigh.

    This horse has been on the roads and trails since she was 4. Despite all of the training and exposure, she remains a skeptic with regards to her environment and under no circumstances will she go in an "unknown" direction (translate as "away from whence we came") at speed. Walk down the road to the trails? Fine. Trot? Ok, but with hesitation. Canter away into the unknown? Forget it, not unless another equid is going first. You can imagine this becomes and issue when facing the outside of a starting box, staring at a course she's never done. Forward? Fuggetaboutit.

    I've tried everything, nothing will get her past this ingrained stubborness and mental hang-up, nothing. In 2008 a clinician suggested I try foxhunting her, to get her exposed to strange places with the comfort of other horses surrounding her.

    So in late summer of 2008, we began foxhunting. Daatje took to it very well, loving the adventure in a group and finding the activities of the hounds facinating. By the end of 2008 we were regularly hunting 2nd flight and even occasionally visiting the 1st flight. 2009 brought more of the same, it was a great year for foxhunting. The going was a bit wet, so the faster horses were slowed and Daatje had no problem keeping up with the field. She jumped well that year, behind some very forward thinking horses and was beginning to feel like we could try our hand at a 2 phase to see if foxhunting had helped broaded her horizons and given her more confidence.

    Enter 2010. She'd been jumping well at home, so I entered the GHF 2-phase to see what she'd bring to the table in a schooling show. We put in a great dressage test, but were eliminated in stadium at the first fence we were asked to jump *away* from the direction from whence we came. She was jumping beautifully, those first few fences, that were approached in the direction towards warm-up. As soon as we turned the corner to approach a jump facing the other way, she stopped dead in her tracks. Dead. in. her. tracks. And not even in front of the jump....she quit LONG before we got there. Sigh.

    I no longer get upset at her. She's telling me eventing not what she wants to do, and that's ok, very dissapointing, but ok. We still foxhunt, which she is agreeable to, as long as we're in a group, but even there, I feel stifled. I want to be riding 1st flight, behind the hounds, galloping as fast as the master and jumping every obstacle.....she's not fast enough or brave enough. I want to compete in hunter trials with my hunting friends. I want to event. I'd love to go for a trail ride and not have to kick like a kid on a Thelwell pony every time we come to an obstacle (real or imagined) the mare has an opinion about. I'd love to be sitting on a forward thinking horse, not one who looks behind her every step to see if we can turn around and go home. I'm so limited by my horse. So limited. I'm incredibly saddened that I have given my heart to this horse, for the past 10 years, and she is not the one who will take me where I want to go, not even at the lowest of levels.

    Why not just sell her and move on, you ask? That would be the most logical thing to do. I'm usually a very logical person.

    If only it were that easy. I love her. She's so comfortable, she's so safe, so sensible, so easy to own, so easy to travel with, so much my "best friend". I get sick to my stomach at the thought of selling her, the thought of someone else owning her.

    At the same time, she's so frustrating, so limiting (for me...for a dressage rider, she'd be a dream mount), so *not* everything I (think I) need in a horse to take me where I (think I) want to go.....to allow me to participate in the activities that are calling to me....

    I just can't bring myself to say goodbye. Why? Why do I love this horse so much? Why am I being so impractical about this? I'm so confused. This isn't like me.

    I just can't imagine my life without her in it. Could it be possible that eventing, hunting 1st flight and competing in hunter trials isn't as important to me as I think it is? I didn't think so, but the fact that she's still in my barn makes me wonder....

    Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I'm thinking that someday I'll have the means for 2 horses and then Daatje can stay in the family, be my best friend, and the 2nd horse will meet my competitive ambitions.....

    That must be it. Patience is a virtue, I suppose...

    Damn, if you've read this far, you've got some patience!

    And yes, I think I do feel better having typed out what's been weighing on my mind......(I think)
    http://www.foxhuntingfriesian.blogspot.com
    http://www.isherwoodstudios.blogspot.com

  • #2
    Well, I don't have any advice, only wanted to say that I am going through the same dilemma with my shetland pony. I want to be in the show ring, driving her around and competing, but she is telling me more and more that driving is not her thing. She is a feisty little thing, but beautiful and we have a great bond. I haven't figured what I am going to do with her as well, as I don't really want to sell her or get a second horse. But in order to accomplish my goals, I will have to do one or the other I guess.
    Anyways, just wanted to let you know you weren't alone in your dilemma.
    Amanda
    Shadows Fall Farm
    www.shadowsfallfarm.webs.com
    ASPC/AMHR Miniature Shetlands

    Comment


    • #3
      Well that just really sucks doesn't it?!

      Have you tried or considered putting her in training with an Eventer and leaving her for a month? Is it possible that your fondness for her is also a limitation in her training? Not saying it is, I have NO clue.

      IMO- which isn't worth a whole lot because I am not in your shoes, I would send her to a good trainer for at least a month, have them concentrate on XC and stadium and see how that goes.

      Good luck and keep us posted.

      Comment


      • #4
        You have this debate every year......

        Comment


        • #5
          This is why those old books about horses tell us not to fall in love with them.

          Easier said than done. Isn't that why we get into this in the first place, because we love horses?

          Have you considered leasing her?

          Or how about some form of catch riding, perhaps getting your speed/jumping fix working with other people's horses?

          Comment


          • #6
            I would absolutely send her to a trainer for a month and just SEE if there is a spark.

            If she doesn't find it, why not lease her to someone who would like to do some lower field fox hunting and dressage work and possibly tadpole eventing- if she'll trot around a course on her own, which maybe she won't- and you either buy or lease something you can enjoy. Then, one day, when you CAN own two horses, you can get your baby back (and if you find the right leasee, still enjoy her from time to time meanwhile) and have the dream eventer to ride.

            The purchase price of a new pone shouldn't limit you- see my thread on my first training CT with the horse I snapped up for a few hundred dollars off CL.

            Just because your gal is not perfect shouldn't mean you have to give her up and doesn't mean she's not perfect for someone else.
            Big Idea Eventing

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by shadowsfallfarm View Post
              Well, I don't have any advice, only wanted to say that I am going through the same dilemma with my shetland pony. I want to be in the show ring, driving her around and competing, but she is telling me more and more that driving is not her thing. She is a feisty little thing, but beautiful and we have a great bond. I haven't figured what I am going to do with her as well, as I don't really want to sell her or get a second horse. But in order to accomplish my goals, I will have to do one or the other I guess.
              Anyways, just wanted to let you know you weren't alone in your dilemma.
              Amanda
              Thanks Shadowsfallfarm. I'm sorry you're in the same place I've been for the past 5 years! I'm sure you'll work something out with your pony, just as I will too, eventually.
              http://www.foxhuntingfriesian.blogspot.com
              http://www.isherwoodstudios.blogspot.com

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by trubandloki View Post
                You have this debate every year......
                Trubankdloki, this debate is a daily thing for me. Daily. If only it were once a year.....sometimes it helps me to share it, roughly once a year, it would seem.
                http://www.foxhuntingfriesian.blogspot.com
                http://www.isherwoodstudios.blogspot.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  How about leasing her to a dressage rider? I feel for you.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'm glad other people mentioned leasing - it was my first thought. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who would just die to do a season of dressage on a Friesian - and at least around here, there are always more LL event horses than there are experienced riders to show them the ropes. Perhaps after a year you would realize that you can't live without her... or that you can't live without eventing.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Daatje View Post
                      Trubankdloki, this debate is a daily thing for me. Daily. If only it were once a year.....sometimes it helps me to share it, roughly once a year.
                      Sharing is good!

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Cruiser12 View Post
                        Well that just really sucks doesn't it?! You said it! But it is self inflicted, so I really shouldn't complain....

                        Have you tried or considered putting her in training with an Eventer and leaving her for a month? Is it possible that your fondness for her is also a limitation in her training? Not saying it is, I have NO clue.
                        I hadn't really thought of that. I dunno though, her issues are deep rooted into her personality, and I'm not sure another rider would make a difference. Definitely a thought, though.
                        IMO- which isn't worth a whole lot because I am not in your shoes, I would send her to a good trainer for at least a month, have them concentrate on XC and stadium and see how that goes.

                        Good luck and keep us posted.
                        Thanks, I'll definitely keep you posted.
                        http://www.foxhuntingfriesian.blogspot.com
                        http://www.isherwoodstudios.blogspot.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Having ridden a couple Fresian's, I think the tendency to be stubborn is a breed characteristic Then add in mare to the equation, and...

                          Have you put her on Depo or Regumate? Is there a barn you can put her at that is very open, with fields for you to hack in regularly? What is her turnout situation like? Single, or with another horse(s)? I would take a serious look at her management at home to see if you can eliminate anything that encourages herd-bound behavior.

                          There are some things you can try, but if all else fails, I think she would make someone else very happy. Sounds like you are have tried a lot, good luck - and selling a horse isn't a bad thing.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Daatje View Post
                            Could it be possible that eventing, hunting 1st flight and competing in hunter trials isn't as important to me as I think it is?
                            Is it possible for you to do a short-term lease on a horse that CAN do these things? You may love it and then have no second thoughts about finding a more suitable partner or you will get it out of your system and then be able to keep on with your girl without wondering what-if?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I don't have a whole lot of time to write you a big, heartfelt response, but I TOTALLY feel your pain in this. Vernon, whom I adore and have lovingly developed as an eventer since he was 3, has finally gotten it through my very thick skull that he HATES the dressage part of the game with a fiery passion from hell. He has made me miserable, and he has been miserable as we've fought and argued our way through dressage schools at home, and the anxiety of the ring at shows. I LOVE this horse (and walking around xc at Morven yesterday and seeing some fun prelim and intermediate fences yesterday made me very sad).

                              So, I get it. And I'm sorry.
                              Amanda

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Well, you are obviously a great horse owner and care about your horse, but if you can only have one you need to go with a horse that will give you the fix you need or one day you will wake up and have missed riding first flight as you are old and creaky and no longer have the desire and that would be sad.

                                From what you have written you like to bond with a horse and catch riding won't make you happy.

                                And who is to say your mare would not be happier trotting around a nice woman's manicured pasture: a woman who has always wanted a Friesian for the big mane and tail and requires nothing more from her than to look pretty and hairy and never leave the security of home?

                                Just sayin'. Maybe she loves you too but her dream is to be a pasture puff!!!

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  RE: Leasing

                                  You know, I really hadn't thought of leasing to be an option. In all truth, leasing scares the crap outta me. I don't know why...I've leased horses when I was a kid, never leased one out myself, though, and the thought of having someone else care for her even in the short term gives me the willies. (why am I being so possessive?!?)

                                  Others outside of the interwebs have made that suggestion to me as well, so maybe I should consider it on a deeper level. I see where it could provide me with a glimpse of what life would be like without her, without going "cold turkey" so to speak.

                                  I've been offered catch rides this season too. I don't know if they will come to fruition, but the offers have been extended...

                                  Falling in love with a horse....absolutely the best and worst thing that can happen to a person!
                                  http://www.foxhuntingfriesian.blogspot.com
                                  http://www.isherwoodstudios.blogspot.com

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by howardh View Post
                                    Well, you are obviously a great horse owner and care about your horse, but if you can only have one you need to go with a horse that will give you the fix you need or one day you will wake up and have missed riding first flight as you are old and creaky and no longer have the desire and that would be sad.
                                    Thank-you, and you are right. That thought has crossed my mind more than once. I'm not getting any younger!

                                    From what you have written you like to bond with a horse and catch riding won't make you happy.
                                    Very true. I don't believe catch riding would ultimately satisfy me. You are very perceptive!

                                    And who is to say your mare would not be happier trotting around a nice woman's manicured pasture: a woman who has always wanted a Friesian for the big mane and tail and requires nothing more from her than to look pretty and hairy and never leave the security of home?

                                    Just sayin'. Maybe she loves you too but her dream is to be a pasture puff!!! You just described Daatje's dream home. To a "T".

                                    Wow. You nailed it. And the only thing preventing this from happening is my emotional hang-up on how much I do love her.
                                    http://www.foxhuntingfriesian.blogspot.com
                                    http://www.isherwoodstudios.blogspot.com

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
                                      I don't have a whole lot of time to write you a big, heartfelt response, but I TOTALLY feel your pain in this. Vernon, whom I adore and have lovingly developed as an eventer since he was 3, has finally gotten it through my very thick skull that he HATES the dressage part of the game with a fiery passion from hell. He has made me miserable, and he has been miserable as we've fought and argued our way through dressage schools at home, and the anxiety of the ring at shows. I LOVE this horse (and walking around xc at Morven yesterday and seeing some fun prelim and intermediate fences yesterday made me very sad).

                                      So, I get it. And I'm sorry.
                                      Thanks Yellowbritches, it's nice to hear from someone who's been there. I don't know why I'm so head-over-heels for this mare, but I am. It doesn't make sense. I'm actually "off my feed" because I'm so depressed about it today. Not even hungry....
                                      http://www.foxhuntingfriesian.blogspot.com
                                      http://www.isherwoodstudios.blogspot.com

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by goodmorning View Post
                                        Having ridden a couple Fresian's, I think the tendency to be stubborn is a breed characteristic Then add in mare to the equation, and...you have Daatje. (grin)

                                        Have you put her on Depo or Regumate? I've thought of it...she gets even more opinionated when in heat. Is there a barn you can put her at that is very open, with fields for you to hack in regularly? What is her turnout situation like? 24/7 individual turn out with a run in. No direct pasture buddies, but horses across the fence. Single, or with another horse(s)? I would take a serious look at her management at home to see if you can eliminate anything that encourages herd-bound behavior.

                                        There are some things you can try, but if all else fails, I think she would make someone else very happy. Sounds like you are have tried a lot, good luck - and selling a horse isn't a bad thing.
                                        I know, it would probably be a very good thing. It's just so hard. There would be many tears, I could tell you that....woah, I'm welling up just thinking about it!
                                        http://www.foxhuntingfriesian.blogspot.com
                                        http://www.isherwoodstudios.blogspot.com

                                        Comment

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