Saturday, August 06, 2011

Letting it go

So I still get weepy when I think that I'll never ride Kaswyn down the centerline again at the upper levels, but now that I've finally made a decision that I'm not going to try to get him back to where he was I'm much better. In fact, I'm considering buying that young horse. Seriously considering it.

Here is the thing - I like to show. I've been showing other people's horses for the past few years while Kaswyn has been off, and it's nice and all but it comes with certain issues. I can't always do what I want to do with a horse that is not mine. And since my horse will never be fit for me to show again, I really would like to have another horse. A horse that I can train how I want to, ride when I want to, and show how and when I want.

The idea is tearing me up though. I can't just dump Kaswyn, but I can't afford to board two horses. I want Kaswyn to be where I can see him - maybe not every day but at least a few times a week. I have thought through several options, and I think what is going to work out right now is to lease Kaswyn out for someone to lightly ride him 3 times a week. That will keep him fit and moving and will offset some of the cost of having two horses. And I'll still be able to see him every time I come to the barn, and I will probably be able to ride him also.

I've leased out Kaswyn before when I've had financial problems, and it wasn't always the best thing for him, and hasn't always ended well. But right now my friend is considering leasing him so she can get more experience riding. She's what I'd call and advanced beginner and really just needs miles in the saddle. This might sound bad, but she doesn't know enough to do anything to screw him up. Just walk trot and canter, and try to get him on the bit. Easy for him, and practice for her. And Kaswyn stays at the barn where I can see him, and watch her ride him, so I know what is going on.

I do feel terrible, like I'm cheating on Kaswyn. I wasn't looking for another horse. Not even considering it. But this horse came to the barn, for sale, and I thought he was neat so I got a chance to ride him. And then I thought he was something special. Smart, willing, eager to please, and really nice gaits. He's a six year old purebred Arabian gelding who has shown three times in the Arabian Hunter Pleasure ring, where he won some classes. But he's not going to be a National contender and his owners have too many horses so he has to go.

For a dressage horse he's very nice though, and I thought he had potential. So I had my trainer come and give me a lesson on him to get her opinion. Not only did she say "You're not crazy for liking this horse.", she said "This horse reminds me of Kaswyn as a six year old." And after she mentioned it, I could see the similarities. Long neck, sweet face, tall and narrow, smart and willing. But then she said "This horse has better gaits than your horse."

The price is right, and my blacksmith also thinks he's nice and that I should buy him. So I have an appointment for a pre-purchase exam on August 18th. I'll make my final decision based on what my vet says, but I really do like this horse.

Today my friend come out and rode Kaswyn, and I rode the young horse. I watched Kaswyn go and he really did look good. And for a little bit I was scared that I was making the wrong decision. That maybe I shouldn't buy this new horse, and that I should stick with Kaswyn and try to make it work. But I tried for SIX YEARS to make that work, and he's 20 years-old now. Sure he looked good. All she was doing was getting him on the bit to walk, trot and canter him. That doesn't mean he can go do a fourth level test, today or any day in the future.

So, I think it is time to let the dream go, but hold onto the horse. Eventually I will retire him completely and let him live out his life in a pasture someplace. He's not there yet, but I need to stop trying to push him into something that I want, and that he will do if I ask, but something that is beyond his physical ability. That's setting us both up for failure.

He has already given me things that some people only dream about - three National Championships, three Reserve National Championships, multiple Regional titles, and the chance to ride at the FEI dressage levels. I think I'm making the best decision for him, and for me. I still doubt myself, and at times I feel really terrible about the whole thing.

I think I'm doing the right thing, but I'm still scared that I'm not. I guess the only way I'll know for sure is if it turns out ok or if it goes horribly wrong. I'll letcha know.


Heather said...

Good for you! Sounds like you have a great plan!

Now That's A Trot! said...

I know where you're coming from... Last year, Willie was telling me he finally wanted to slow down a bit. I was having trouble coming to terms with it, because I still wanted to ride/show, and riding other people's horses has been hit-or-miss. They generally go home or get sold by the time they're ready for anything "fun." Enter a younger horse that needed not only a new home, but the sort of "fixing" I specialize in. Sometimes the timing just works out that way.

You're not giving up on Kas. You're still providing for him, and giving him the opportunity to pass on what he knows to someone else. He can enjoy a comfortable activity level without the pressure (on him OR you) to get things just so. You still get to enjoy his company, and can even toodle around if the mood strikes. He gets to stay active and well-cared for, which is more than quite a lot of senior horses I've met in recent years.

I also could never send Willie where he's out of my sight... Heck, I do self-care because I can't even trust a normal boarding facility to meet my standards. He'll stay in my care until the end of his life -- I've already moved a mountain or two to do it, what's a few more?

Horses don't have show goals or training agendas. They want to be safe, happy, and healthy. Our job as the human is to keep them that way as best we can.

Urbancowgrrl said...

I wish that you lived in the Greater Seattle area because you could keep your horse and lease my 4 year old Thoroughbred with me. We're training her as a dressage horse and my friend who was sharing her with me is moving. I'm freaking out because of that same fear - needing someone to share her with me, but wanting it to be the right person and fears it will end badly.

I can really identify with what you're going through because my other horse is 27. Fortunately, she does not need to retire yet but I am steeling myself because I know it is only a matter of years (maybe less).

Ms Martyr said...

Major decisions are never easy, however, I find that once actually made you'll find life a whole lot easier than dealing with uncertainty.

McFawn said...

Congrats! I think you are making a wonderful choice for you, Kaswyn, the new horse, and your friend. This seems like a win-win-win-win.

Kaswyn will get to stay in work and have a job--something he loves. The work will keep him fit and mobile, but won't tax him or kick off another round of acute lameness. He'll also be close to you, as always. Win.

You'll get to experience the excitement and challenge of bringing along a young, sound horse. All you've learned from your lovely horse can be put to use on this youngster. Win.

This young horse, who may or may not have found a great home with someone else, will find a great home with you. He'll benefit from the experience that you've accumulated over your long riding career, and enjoy a being a partner to a fair, loyal and sensitive rider. WIN.

Your friend will get to learn the ropes on a safe, experienced horse. Good schoolmasters are few and far between. For her, Kaswyn will be a new and exciting frontier. She'll appreciate him for what he is, and he'll feel that. Win.

My 19 year old horse died in 2008, and so I didn't have to make the decision you're making. But buying and starting over with a young horse was absolutely a huge deal and a big leap of faith. A year into the new partnership, I couldn't be happier. It's so nice to start again with the knowledge that I have now. I made so many mistakes with Fancy! But I did a lot right, too. It's wonderful to be able to apply that to a new horse, while learning from him, too.

I think you are doing a fair, positive, and good thing.

Wiola said...

Hello Sheri, I've been reading your recent posts and I think you've made the right decision.
I know a few riders who keep heavily medicating their older competition horses to fulfill their dreams. Personally I think it's a no go and have a lot of respect for riders like you who know when to say enough is enough and it's time for a younger horse to do the job.
I will look forward to reading about the pre-purchase vetting results!

Anonymous said...

I think you are definitely doing the right thing. Leasing Kaswyn will keep him in shape and make two horses affordable for you. Seems like a win win situation.

HammersArk said...

I think this is a wonderful plan! I know I can't wait to hear how the lease goes and all about the new horse!

Kate said...

I don't think making a decision based on what's best for the horse can ever be a bad thing. Kaswyn means a lot to you, and attempting to make him happy is never a bad thing. You're not giving up on him, you're giving him a chance to have a job, a purpose without the difficulty of upper level riding. Neither of you would be happy if you'd gone on like before. You'd want to do more, and he'd want to do more for you but he wouldn't be capable of it physically. All your doing is giving the both of you a shot at happiness.

BTW, this new pony sounds fantastic. Can't wait to hear how all that goes!

thedressagecowgirl said...

I had to retire my dressage partner last week. Just remember that it's what's best for him, and that he's earned it.

Corinna said...

ugh, what turmoil! I'm sorry for the difficult decision, but I think you're making the right one! I'm in a similar predicament when my horse may not actually be perfect for me/ my life right now (did I just admit that?!), and I have other horses that I am itching to start training.... Good luck and happy riding with the new one!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you've managed to find a way to have your cake and eat it too, which is tough when you have a loved horse that isn't sound for what you want to do, and you don't have the luxury of being a billionaire. I had to retire my guy, and I will say there is something gratifying about giving a good horse a nice retirement. My fellow is an OTTB, and seeing him out on grass, just being a horse - and seeing how happy he is - just does my heart good. I am convinced that if you do right by your horses, things will work out. I even wrote about this conclusion a while ago.

I hope everything works out!

Fade Out said...

Just remember that it's what's best for him, and that he's earned it.

achieve1dream said...

Sometimes you have to take that chance. I don't think you're doing wrong by Kaswyn at all. I wish you had enough land where you live (not sure if you're in a house or apartment) to keep him at home so you didn't have to pay board, but I know that's not always possible. I think the lease idea sounds good. He's still there under your watchful eye (since you know him better than anyone) so I don't think it'll be horrible.

The new horse sounds really nice! Do we get to see pictures?? I hope it works out for you. When I read what your trainer said about him compared to Kaswyn I teared up. It sounds like the perfect horse for you. Maybe he came to the barn for a reason.

Good luck with the PPE. I can't wait to hear how it goes.

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr