Tuesday, November 22, 2011

His Fault; My Fault.

I follow a fair number of blogs online and have watched in the last little bit a number of people either part with or set the stage for parting with their horses. From retirement, trade, or sale, I can count 6 blogs in the last year, 3 in the last week alone...

My heart catches a bit when I hear the news. The logical, practical side of me shrugs it off. You buy a horse, fall in love with a sport, get as far as you can and then sell them to move on to something that can hopefully take you a little further. Sometimes it's because a freak accident leaves you scarred, sometimes it's that age and hard-work takes its toll leaving you with a horse that is no longer happy or capable of performing the task.

I've always been amazed by I Am Boyfriend's owner. She bought a horse from the wilds of North Dakota, soaked a lot of money into him, and wound up with a pasture pet. And she never seems to mind. Oh, she worries over him. She doesn't ride because he's not sound for it, and she spends oodles of time mothering him. Somehow, he's just everything to her, despite not being the mount she went in search of.

She's rare. Many would say that she clearly doesn't plan on making herself anything in the sport. If she did, she'd be looking. When your horse can't do what it needs to do, you find one that can.

I don't mean to sound ignorant or heartless in this post. I understand for most what has led to their decisions, and I respect them. These are people who know what they want. They want to be competitive in a highly competitive sport. One that is so expensive that most of us can only afford one mount. These aren't bicycles or running shoes. They're expensive tools to own, keep and train. If you're gonna make it anywhere, you know it's riding on just one horse, so it darn well better be the best horse you can afford.

And that's why I've come to realize I never plan on being competitive. Not the way competitive people want to be competitive.

Let's face facts. This isn't about MoonSox. This is about me, first and foremost. Before I point my finger at him and say he's not made to be a competitive horse, I realize that neither am I. I know people would say that's foolish, but reverse the tables.

I'm never going to be an Olympic caliber rider. Ever. I don't think I'll ever make it to 2nd level in dressage and I'll be darn lucky to compete at 2' jumpers. Irrespective of horse.

Ignoring the fact that I need my day-job, the fact I can't spend the money on it, I don't have the connections to the big barns, I won't move to where the riders are and I don't want to live the hard life that is required to get there. Great riders spend years as a working student for top riders under grueling hours and thankless work. Good riders can do it from home, soaking a lot of money and time in to it. You don't get competitive because you want to be rich, you do it because you love to compete.

But let's talk about my physical ability to be a top competitive rider.

My equitation is not stellar despite the time I've put in. I'm fortunate to have the appropriate confirmation for the sport: long legged, shorter torso, light boned but reasonably muscled. I don't suffer back problems, knee problems or anything of that sort.

I lack patience, I'm stubborn. I clench my knees and I sometimes slouch. I have a past head injury that makes me skittish around hooves and I started my training later in life then most.

I'm hard to keep weight on, and I'm a fussy eater. My endurance isn't spectacular and shows make me nervous. I sometimes have trouble focusing and I'm a bit flighty.

I tense and I brace.

But I'm fortunate. Most of the time, I can't distinguish my horse's flaws from my own. And I can't separate out our improvements or talents either. Does he have a bad canter because he has a bad canter, or because I'm a big tense rock on his back? Does he run into the poles because he can't jump or because I set them up wrong or didn't set him up properly? Do our leg yields have too much bend because he's over bending or because I'm over asking?

I fix him, then I fix myself. Things are never perfect, but I never wonder who's holding who back. I wonder who's holding who up... : ) I've never once thought "He's not good enough for what I'm asking of him". I've only ever thought that we've both got training to do to improve. Oh, we'll never be stellar, but it's neither of our fault. We both have faults.

And I'm okay with that. I'm better then okay with that. For once, not being great at something is the best gift of all. He'll always be enough horse for me. We'll both always need to improve, we'll both always struggle and we'll both always depend on one another to make it through the ride.

He's my heart horse. If I can only ever afford one horse, Moon will be that horse until the day he passes away. If he sucks at dressage, can't jump and is too sore to trail ride, he's still my horse. I don't pay to ride him, I pay to love him. Riding is merely a perk.


  1. Moon is a lucky boy:) I try not to judge other people's circumstances, but certainly horses would be better off if there were more dedicated owners like yourself. I still kick myself for selling Chamie in college, but at the time I thought she would be better off getting more attention and use than I could give her, and she was young and talented enough that I didn't want her to sit in a pasture. It worked for awhile, but as you know even the best situations can go wrong. I wish now I would have kept her...hindsight and all that. Now, I feel as you do and my horses are never going anywhere. Then again, if horrible things were to happen (like neither my husband or I had a job), what would we do?? I try not to think about that. We're ok for now, but things like that happen to people everyday. It's very sad for everyone involved.

  2. Sarah, I completely agree that sometimes situations occur where you can't keep your horse, love it to bits or not. Chamie is lucky you never lost track of her.

    I'm was actually trying to capture the 'Riding' and 'Sport' reasons for selling. Realizing that your horse isn't physically or mentally capable to be competitive in the sport you're persuing, and so you must move on.

    That's Okay, too. But it's not me. Because I'm never gonna be a talented enough rider to warrant chasing a dream like that, especially if it means parting with Moon. Now he on the other hand, MAY just put me up for sale in persuit of his true passion....eating and chasing the ladies.

    Why isn't THAT an olympic sport??!

  3. It really is a different world when you're competitive. Not that I would know anything about that. If Tess doesn't end up liking dressage, then we'll go do something else. I think part of my journey with her is to find what we BOTH like and go do it. But my barn has a lot of people who are more competitive and 'move up' to new horses. Of course, I bought a horse who's over my head so maybe that's why I don't worry about 'moving up'. :)

  4. I think it’s good that you won’t sell Moon just to be better but this said you’ve got a bit to go before Moon and you are at your best, and I’d like to see you get there I love reading your blog and trying to help were I can.

    So to start with if your unsure if it’s you or Moon then get your instructor on him and they should be able to tell you who’s doing what wrong. Next starting late in life doesn’t make a difference, also the things like getting tense and bracing griping with your knees none of that is a problem it just takes practice, just try hard not to do it and in the end you won’t do it. Shows make you nervous, shows make the pros nervous, if you weren’t nervous you would have probably had a very strong drink before hand.

    I honestly think you could be a cracking rider with lots of practice, and still keep Moon, I think that little chap still has a lot to give.

  5. I can't remember how I happened upon your blog, but I was intrigued because my horse's name is Moon, too (my Moon is a mare, though ^_^ ). This post has cemented your place as the newest member of my blogroll. "I don't pay to ride him, I pay to love him. Riding is merely a perk." Bravo! There are so many other sentiments in this post that I relate to, it's uncanny.

    Hooray for Moon horses! :D