I have been asking myself over and over again, “what do you want to do about riding”. Life is not the same without riding! Not that I would have been doing tons of it lately anyway since this week was the first time since December that we could see the ground through the snow (which is not typical in my area at all). Even with it being a terrible winter, I am sure I would have at least ridden a bit if I were leasing, even if it was a bareback hack through the snow. I have not ridden since before Thanksgiving at the moment. That is more than 3 months out of the tack and counting.
For a while I was not riding because of finances. It is expensive to ride horses! Owning one that can’t be ridden doesn’t help the bottom line either! I was trying to get back on better financial ground after leasing and, sure enough, by mid-January I was in a way better spot. Away went that excuse and then came another…what do I want? Was I looking to lease another horse? Did I want lessons? Was is dressage I was after? Or did I want to try something new. Those are the questions I have been struggling with lately.
I found two maybe horses to lease this winter, but one was a 4 year old off-the-track TB, and the other was a 9 year old with some strong conformational faults that could lead to lameness. I spoke to both owners (who were super nice), but in the end I decided not even to try them because I was afraid I would fall in love and I really am trying to learn from past experiences. I am afraid of getting started with a horse who has the potential to get hurt every other week, and the next horse I train should be my own. The more I was looking around at leases the more I was realizing that what I want (which is a well trainer, quiet horse, who is good on trails and healthy enough to be ridden for a few years) is about twice as much per month as I am willing to spend. So for the moment, I think half-leasing is off the table.
That leaves lessons. But in what? If I want to progress with my dressage I need to go to a higher end trainer. The cost of a lesson with a higher end trainer by me is $75-150 an hour. Add to that the fact that I need to locate one who has a horse they can let me use, which narrows down my options. I have been going back and forth about this for a while now. It was a lot of internal debating, but I have finally decided that I am okay with letting go of dressage for now. I mean, it isn’t like I was all that great to begin with, and even with investing all that money in to lessons it is very, very hard to progress with only one lesson a week.
So where does that leave me? That is what I have been struggling to figure out…and I think I finally have.
I was looking around at the western trainers in my area and while I can overlook a lot, many of them have horse care situations that I am just not okay with. The ones that align with my horse care values specialize in things like cutting or reining, not western pleasure, so having a horse handy is an issue yet again. So western was out. I looked around but could not find any saddle seat places either. That pretty much left me with one option, hunter/jumper farms.
I did used to jump, many, many years ago. In fact, I used to do 4 foot courses. Not that I was ever excited about doing it, but I am the kind of person who can usually fake it till I make it…at least with jumping. Lately though I have not been jumping at all. I use poles, sometimes elevated, in my dressage work, but no actual jumping or doing a course. So then comes the question, do I really want do to this? The answer is, or at least I think it is, yes. Jumping can be fun, especially on a horse that knows what they are doing. I do want an instructor that is kind and compassionate though, just in case. I started looking and asking around about 2 weeks ago and I think I may have found a good fit.
I am not expecting these lessons to be life changing. I am also not expecting to go and turn in to a hunter diva. What I would like is a place that treats their horses well and is safe with a trainer who I think knows what they are doing. My friend rides at a place like that that is about a half an hour away from me, and only 10 minutes from Gen. I have known other acquaintances that have boarded there and everyone is happy with the place. I haven’t called up yet, but I will soon. I want to have fun, feel safe, and get my butt back in the saddle.