Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Heart made of lead

I had a very sad revelation yesterday.

I rode Kaswyn and we worked on our usual stuff of the moment - straightness, some circles, and then I fooled around a little bit with some flying changes just for fun.

Then I rode this new horse, a six year old purebred Arabian gelding (who I have really become quite smitten with... more on that later) and I realized that this young horse has a lot of go. I had to take my spurs off and didn't have a whip, and this young guy was still flying. He doesn't get the half halt yet, but we're working on it. He had plenty of go left in him 45 minutes later, even after a lunge before I rode him.

Kaswyn used to have a lot of go. Yesterday I had to push him a lot to keep him going.

Kaswyn used to be like this young horse. Now he's not.

I know he loves to see me, and he probably likes to be ridden, but I'm not sure he really enjoys the work anymore. I didn't really see it until I had something to compare it to. Now I can't ignore it, even though I want to.

For all my insistence that "I'm not going to retire him!" and "He doesn't want to retire!" and "I WILL NOT RETIRE HIM." I'm starting to think that it's time. What do you think?

I'm just devastated.


Heather said...

What a sad realization. It is so easy to anthropomorphize our own feelings onto our animals. Of course you don't WANT to retire him! But, would he be just as happy being the horse you come out to groom and feed carrots to? Would he love being a lead-line horse for your girls? Does he really care if he is still competitive?

Maggie said...

Even if you do decide to retire him, it's not like it's the end. You'll still be visiting and riding him. The only difference is it will be for fun instead of a specific purpose.

Maybe this young guy has come into your life for a purpose. Maybe he is part of your future so you can relax with Kaswyn and enjoy him instead of worrying so much.

I'm not sure if this comment is any help, but it's well meant.

Sarah said...

"So the plan is this. Observe his mood, and ride accordingly. If he gives me the green light, ride him, do some training, have a little fun at the end (without overly taxing him), stretch him, love him, give him one gram of bute, and put him away. Then give him the next day off, no bute, but turnout time with his buddy. This plan might eventually get us back into real training, but if not I think I might be okay with that. If he feels bad, walk him, groom him, stretch him, love him, and put him away."

Keep taking it day by day. He's going to keep getting older (same as all of us) and his abilities will slowly diminish, but that's not really a tragedy, that's just life. I know it isn't easy, and I'm sending you positive vibes :)

Scarlett said...

he's an arab - he still needs a job. They all love having a job. They would just like an EASIER job.

So yes, your FEI horse may need to be retired. But that doesn't mean he can't become a competitive trail horse or a side saddle horse or a driving horse or something like that.

Be FLEXIBLE. Think outside the box. Hell, maybe he'd like western pleasure or reingin or just packing a kid around now??

But he's still going to need a job. Those brainiacs always need something.

HammersArk said...

Every horse who gives their all deserves a peaceful and relaxed retirement. It sounds like Kaswyn might be ready - he gave you his all for many years and maybe it's time to slow down.

What about letting your girls start learning how to ride on him, or do lead-line classes on him? That way he'd still be useful, but he wouldn't have to work so hard anymore?

Urbancowgrrl said...

You will know when it's time to retire him. But make the decision when you're not comparing him to his younger self.

I have a 4 year old Thoroughbred and a 27 year old Quarterhorse and I've actually started thinking how the AQHA may need to retire in a couple years - which breaks my heart. She used to be the kind of horse who was so hot you put your foot in the stirrup and she started to trot away before your leg was even over her back. But now sometimes she doesn't want to even trot. Other times she will try to bolt off as usual but not every time any more. So, I empathize!

Judi said...

I have a 24-year-old Morab, and he is my main trail horse. When he was younger, he was an energetic handful of a horse in the arena. As he aged, I don't think didn't like his arena work, anymore, he just didn't want to waste energy like when he was a youth. He became more sensible. A young Arab isn't necessarily sensible, but and older one should be.

Cruiser still likes to go on the trail, but he is sensible there, too.

Remember when you were a kid and wanted to run and play all the time? Now, you are sensible, too.

Stacey Kimmel-Smith said...

Earlier when you talked, it sounded like Kas "wanted to go" -- the great thing is that you are tuned into him, and what he wants. Maybe he just had a tired day, maybe tomorrow will be different, but you'll do what's right for him, and I think you'll do it with joy in your heart, once you are sure what is best for him. With confidence, Stacey

Amy said...

Couple of thoughts:

How fit is Kaswyn? The years of not on and off riding do take a toll on fitness. Could just need some more time to build up muscle and stamina--harder at 19 than at 6.

How hot is it there? There's been a bunch of droopy horses at my barn lately!

Either of those could be an issue, plus Kaswyn could be bored with straight lines and circles, he's such a pro.

It could be time to retire from competition, but it sounds like the riding that you've been doing is good physical therapy. Nobody really wants to go and do THAT, so it could just be that Kaswyn is still in the uncomfortable, "don't wanna" stages of rehabilitation.

I sympathize with your sadness--I have an NRQ horse of many years duration as well--the horse that was supposed to be a fun resale project! I have a hard time letting go of what I planned.

Give it a few more months before you make a decision. It is amazingly stressful to have a long-term health issue in a family member (because of course Kaswyn is a member of your family). Be kind to yourself--you have had a long, expensive, exhausting time taking care of Kaswyn's lameness.

Val said...

The young guy is full of energy, but he is also wasting it, letting it spill all over. Your older guy has learned to be efficient with the energy that he has. He is not a spring chicken, but from the look on his face is still very much with you. I would definitely continue to ride him. Go out for a trail or a trip around the field and see how he feels. I also think that you should teach your girls to ride him!

achieve1dream said...

I agree that the heat could be affecting him. Retiring him doesn't mean not riding him. Riding him and keeping him fit and flexible help to extend his life and comfort. I think throwing a horse out to pasture and not working them at all is the quickest way to age them. Just relax and take it day by day. :)

Anonymous said...

My mom's horse was quite old and didn't do that much heavywork, but he loved going on the trails. He would galllop up the hills and whip around all the curves in the trails. Don't retire him! He might get bored, just try and find more fun activities, like trail riding or just messing around bareback.

Jane said...

maybe you can still practice a few horse riding techniques with Kaswyn every now and then for old time's sake. but you should let him rest.

Minus Pride said...

Maybe not reitre him, just find him a different job...trail riding!

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