After that nice break of Gen’s total and complete adorableness it is back to my current situation with Lucky. I am going to head out after work today to try and ride her and see if she feels any better at all. I put her on a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement about a week and a half ago so I would hope that, if nothing else, her arthritis would at least feel better at this point. I mean, even if she does feel terrible I would want to give some notice to her owner so I would be with her through November regardless. Hopefully she is feeling better today and this post is all for nothing right?
I just want to explain myself a little bit better because I am not sure if I am being clear as to why I think it is time to stop riding. It isn’t about Lucky, at least not really. It is that Lucky is horse number 4 (or is it 5) that I have tried to half lease only to have it not work out in the long run. Some leases were my choice to end, others were made by the horse. It has been over 6 years since I retired Gen. In that time I should have only leased one, maybe two horses. That isn’t how it worked out for me though. I have leased several and that is without a handful of leases that never even worked out at the start.
During this same 6 year period I have watched friends, on their own horses, go through the levels. I have seen others completely change discipline from hunters to dressage, or western to eventing. I have even seen some friends unfortunately have a horse go lame, struggle with training issues or lose their equine companions, and yet they all bounce back and go on to be successful. I literally cannot think of a single friend, or even stranger, who has put as much in to it as I have, and yet has not progressed.
Before you all jump down my throat, I am not saying that I haven’t gotten better, I am simply saying that I have not progressed. I.e. there has been 0 LONG TERM progress made. When someone asks me what level I am at, I say Intro. Which actually means that I have gotten worse over the past 6 years because I used to be able to say training level. I know that riding isn’t always about making progress, but one would think that 0 progress in 6 years is a pretty clear indicator that maybe riding isn’t my thing.
One would think I would take a hint that maybe riding is not for me when my very first horse got hurt. I didn’t though. I just became determined to “make it work”. I once joked that I wanted to create a line of saddle pads with inspirational words or sayings on them for riders like me. I mean, I know that not everyone has the dream path laid out in front of them. Plenty of people have struggled with riding. I always used to say that I didn’t have to be good at riding as long as it was still fun.
The problem is…I don’t even know if riding is fun anymore because it has been so long since I have done it. Right now it feels like adding in a second horse to the mix has been one big mistake after another. With the number of times my heart feel to pieces because I had to say goodbye to a beloved horse I am surprised I even care at all. But I do. I am clearly not going to be one of those people who gets to ride off in to the sunset. I feel blessed every single day that Gen found me, but maybe the ending of my riding story is more like they walked next to each other in to the sunset…no riding involved. One heart break, one injury, one month where you are sweating to pay the bills, a person can recover from those. I just don’t know if I can get over 6 years that feels like it is filled with that.
I just don’t know how many times I can “keep getting back in the saddle” when the universe is telling me that my two feet are better off firmly planted in to the ground.
First of all, don’t assess your riding skills NOW because you’ve been NOT riding for awhile. Second, are you trying to find a suitable horse by yourself? Do you have a trainer or someone you know who is moving up the levels–who can help you find a horse for half-lease? Do you have a vet you trust who knows what you want to do? Often he/she can find a horse that’s suitable. It’s difficult to do all this by yourself because you have limited networking capabilities. I’ve found when you’re looking for a horse, “it takes a village.” ;o)
I echo the sentiments of finding a suitable horse. That many leases that didn’t work out to me says you’ve most likely been doing a care/free lease on them. I’ve been down that road and it is HARD. After I retired my heart horse, I went through 5 different horses over 4 years before I found Simon… so your situation is not unheard of. Of those 5 horses, one I owned but was a bad match and had soundness issues, three were free or half leases that had owner issues, training issues or both and another one I owned and came down with a mysterious auto-immune disease and had to be retired. That’s how riding is… sometimes it’s just a string of bad luck before you get a good one.
OMG. Can we say pitty party!?! Do you want to ride? Yes or no. BS about you not progressing. You have. Just wait until you do get a horse that knows something and then you’ll see what type of rider you are: better than than those who just buy the broke horse. Only you can decide if you want to ride or not. But I see your posts are for what they are: a cry for encouragement. Fine. Here it is… you are a good rider. You will find a horse to ride. You’ve done all the right things with Gen and Lucky. You’re a good person. What else do you want? You know I love you but I’m here to give you tough love since all of your other blog readers are too nice, but I know you in real life. BH knows of 2 FEI horses to lease (not at our farm). Call me if you want the details.
I think you and Erin need to get together for coffee or something. I feel like you’re in the same boat. My heart aches for you. Only you can decide if you’re done with riding. It’s not up to us. For what it’s worth, I’m glad you rode as long as you did because I’m thrilled to have met you and it wouldn’t have happened without horses to bring us together.
Only you can decide if you are still having fun. I would buy an inspirational saddle pad. I spent 6 years on 3 horses that didn’t work out and 2 had to be put down. I purchased each one and then spent thousands in vet bills. I learned more about doctoring than I did riding during that time but I wouldn’t change a thing because I loved each one of them and they all taught me a lot. My heart swells just thinking about the relationship I had with each one.
Maybe you should take some time off and see how you feel about not riding at all. The winter is coming and unless you have an indoor there won’t be much riding anyway. In the Spring you should have saved up some money that you didn’t spend on leasing, supplements,vets and farriers for a lease horse. Then you might want to look into buying a horse of your own with good prospects. I know not everyone can afford two horses but maybe the money you spend on leasing could be put towards owning.
You are not alone on this path. It is a hard road when you go through one horse after another with issues and all the money goes into maintenance and there is no riding. It is also hard to watch others moving ahead when it seems random luck that some get sound, rideable horses and others end up with problems that seem insurmountable. Hang in there. You will find your way through.
I’m sorry that you are going through this… I don’t know you in real life, so I don’t feel that comfortable getting tough with you. I do know that I’ve felt the same way as you at times in the past. I’m not a super athletic, wealthy, natural rider. I have to work at it and I’m still not great. I’m making some progress slowly though and I think you have made more progress than you think! I found a great coach and finally (after 3 duds) got the right horse.
Maybe, like Grey Horse mentioned, take some time off over the winter, save up your money and see how you feel in the spring. Or, you could take lessons and research some leases that are recommended by your trainer or someone reputable. Whatever you decide, I hope you come to a decision that makes you comfortable and happy.