Thursday, June 22, 2017

whose journey is it anyway?

Over the past few months I've been thinking about writing a post along the lines of "Why Charlie: The case for the war horse OTTB" or some such thing. About why I wanted certain specifications in a horse, and how I prioritized my criteria.

For whatever reason, tho, that post has languished on the back burner. And a recent conversation with a friend helped me to figure out why.

why? bc he's the best, that's why <3
I doubt any of you who have been reading for a while need to be reminded about just how shitty last year was for me as a rider. It's just now been about a year since I threw in the training towel with Isabel - since I realized our journey as a competitive partnership was closing for at least the foreseeable future, but probably for good.

It was.... an educational time for me tho.

I had to tackle a lot of feelings of guilt and self doubt - was I quitting on Isabel? Was I blaming the horse when actually I had reached the limits of my own skills or ability? Was I moving on to an OTTB as a way to hide my own inadequacies behind the shield of "green"?

Which like, obviously those are pretty unpleasant feelings. And probably unfair too.

green horses are their own special brand of fun anyway, right?
This is a hobby, after all. Like, I love riding. I take it fairly seriously, I study it. I invest infinitely more than just time, money and energy into it. At the end of the day tho, it is a hobby. It is intended to bring me joy.

So I had to do a little bit of soul searching about what that 'joy' looks like to me.

And ultimately? I had to realize that for me, it's about more than just the partnership I had with Isabel. My joy in riding comes in large part from my own personal journey as a rider. And it's fairly specifically tied to what I do as a rider.

this picture is so ridiculous in so many ways. but.... it kinda encapsulates the growing partnership lol
In the case of Isabel, we were no longer successful as a jumping pair. But I learned that, actually, jumping is pretty important to me as a rider. I want to jump. More specifically, I want to event. This might not always be true for me - but it is true for me right now.

And therefore, to continue getting fulfillment from my riding habit, I needed a horse who would be happy in doing the things I wanted to do. Right now, that's an event horse.

Thus we get to the "Why Charlie" part, right? Except - not even quite yet. Because there's still more to it, I think.

Superficially, I chose Charlie bc he met fairly broad criteria: OTTB, aged 6-9, good build and sound(ish), and that brain. I specifically wanted something a little bit older bc I wanted something with some life experience. Something that was emotionally mature. That could handle the "do all the things" lifestyle - trailering out twice a week for lessons, shows, trail rides, or whatever.

do all the things? check and check.
And let's be real: your typical sound, well built horse can jump around 3' without issue. That same typical, average horse can probably physically handle 2nd-3rd level dressage too. Sure, some are easier than others - but you don't really need above average talent or athleticism for that, ya know?

But this gets us back to the whole "journey" thing. Because I realized with Isabel that my journey as a rider superseded our 'partnership.' Obviously things were easier in that I didn't own the horse, so I didn't have to make certain difficult choices (tho it's also arguable that, had I owned the horse, she would have gotten different care that may have affected her willingness to jump... but that's an entirely different rabbit hole that is totally moot now).

It meant tho that I had to take better stock of what I actually wanted my journey as a rider to look like - what are my actual ambitions? And what type of horse do I need to get there?

i can promise you each person in this picture has a slightly different answer to that question
For me, right now, the answer to those questions feels a little vague, a little blurry, but also maybe pretty realistic for my purposes. I have ambitions. I want to be the best rider I can be, to be good at what I do and enjoy it. But I suspect that my ambitions have a bit of a ceiling to them - that I may reach a certain level and feel like, "Yup this is good. We can cruise here."

In other words, I don't really feel like I'm "shooting for the top." I don't want to "go all the way." Does that make sense? It's not really clear to me yet where my 'cruising altitude' is, exactly. But it doesn't seem likely to be anything at the upper levels lol. And that's totally fine by me.

So here we are now, finally, at the "Why Charlie" bit. I want to do things, and get... somewhere. But I probably don't need an out-of-this-world athletic or talented horse to get there. Rather, I just need something I can work with. Something that I can enjoy working with. Enter: Charlie, with his emotional maturity and good brain.

charlie needs all the emotional maturity and good brain he can get, bc i apparently have none of my own lol
And back to my earlier comment about figuring a lot of this out during a conversation with a friend. We were discussing this very topic of ambition. Specifically: our conceptions of how we define ourselves as horse people. And what it means to us to be riders. Is it about our journey with an individual horse? Or is it about the attainment of a major competitive goal or milestone?

This whole thought process leads me to believe that I fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. I need to be doing a certain type of riding that includes jumping and lessons and shows (otherwise I'd still be riding Isabel, right?).

But.... within that framework, I do truly love the day in, day out partnership forged with my horse. Because it's those quiet 'in between' moments that can really color our entire perception of our horse experience, after all.

quiet in between moments are nice too tho
At one extreme of the spectrum: you have the professionals who have to sell their big horses in order to continue building their businesses, in order to afford their next big horse. The top riders whose careers are fortified specifically by their ability to succeed independent of the horse.

And the other end of the spectrum - which feels much more commonplace especially among adult amateurs: the riders who often adapt their own goals or ambitions to align with their horse's ability. That the partnership forged with this horse, the journey with this horse, is more important than any other attribute of what the horse can 'do.'

My guess, tho, is that most of us fall somewhere in between. And furthermore, I'd guess that this is one of those things that may change and evolve over time, based on other life circumstances. That how I feel about it today might be quite different from how I feel about it in 5 years. Or 10.

for now tho, there's nowhere else i'd rather be
I'm curious tho - and actually so was my friend, who specifically encouraged me to write this post and solicit opinions from blogland on your own perspectives.

Do you define yourself as a rider by your goals or ambitions? Are they inextricably linked to your specific horse? Or maybe instead, your preferred means of deriving enjoyment are defined by the horse you have currently? Have you had to make decisions about buying or selling a horse based on its suitability for your goals or purposes?

Do you feel like there's something bigger out there, something more overarching in your own journey as a rider, independent of the horses that may come in and out of your life? Or maybe you feel the opposite - that it's less about striving forever for something, and more about enjoying each good moment as it comes?

Have your opinions or thoughts on this matter had to change over time due to different circumstances? Or maybe you've never actually thought particularly deeply about it at all?

30 comments:

  1. It's both. My first "real" endurance horse has done bloody well, and has completed a couple of 100 mile rides. He can do it, but he doesn't... LOVE it. He's great at 50 miles, but not at 100. I WANT to ride 100s, but I don't want to flog the horse I hvae to do it. So I bought another. Which I am lucky enough to be able to do. I hope this one will love 100 miles. Meanwhile, the original model will happily do 50s, either with me or someone else (but he'll still be my horse). I'm lucky in having room for more than one. The limit is two though, so if horse two ALSO doesn't love 100s, we'll sit at 50s. I have goals and ambitions, but they're not all encompassing enough to make me sell the horses I have if their ambitions don't line up.

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  2. Good post. I think that there are as many answers as there are riders. What I hate to see is when people buy the wrong horse - one with a ton of talent but one that they can't ride.

    I wrote a whole post about why I chose Steele a long time ago. He got me hooked on the breed. Carmen, as you know, was a bit of a 'rebound' horse and one that has been a whole other journey. But she still suits me (well now she does).

    I love dressage (no surprise) but I really want to do lots of different things that may, at some point, include hopping over some sticks, but mostly I want to have fun. I am also in my 50's and my ambitions have changed. I do want to see how far I can get with Carmen in training and i suspect that the limiting factor will be me as she has a ton of talent for it. It will be fun to try though.

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  3. I made all my competition goals after getting Gem. A little backwards, I know. My horse life revolves around the fact that I just plumb love being around horses. Riding is great and I love learning and improving, but I also equally enjoy all the farm chores, grooming, spa days and management aspect too. To me it is all about the relationship and I went the endurance route because it was what Gem liked and excelled at. Life has a lot to do with my current Eventing status. It is easier to fit in than endurance although a lot hard to perform!

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  4. Mikey was my English all around horse. I was going to tailor my goals to what he could do- he handled all of my discipline changes with grace, so as he aged, I needed to adjust what I wanted to do to fit his abilities. Selling him was not an option, so I was going to do what he could do (and possibly leasing him to someone who wanted to do basic dressage), then see about leasing a second horse to do the competitive things I wanted to do.

    With Mikey's passing, Penn was purchased with a specific competitive intent: I want to get to GP Dressage, if this horse can't, we'll sell at whatever level he maxes out and use the funds to buy the next one. I've come to really enjoy Penn (and I've come to appreciate his brain so much), so much so that I don't think I can go along with my original plan. It helps that he's not going to max out any time soon, but if he does, I think I'll look into sending him out on a full lease (I want to maintain ownership of him). But that's a perk of being an AA- I don't have to stick to the original plan. I am allowed to change my mind and simply enjoy a horse with a good brain.

    I do think if you're not planning on keeping them for life (which is a bit unreasonable to assume everyone will keep their horse for life), that you teach the horse all the good things that will keep them safe in a good home- having manners, tying, clipping, a riding skill. Basically an education that make them safe and fun to be around.

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  5. This is a wonderful, wonderful post! Right now, I definitely land firmly on the side of "ambitions defined by partnership with current mount". When I adopted Dino it was a bit of a surprise and not a part of my original plan for horse ownership, and I had already decided before he was retired from the school that when he was done there, he was coming to live with me for the rest of his life. It just happened much sooner than expected! I originally tried to fit him into the mold of my own ambitions (working towards 3' jumpers) but slowly realized that he had talents and got enjoyment out of activities outside the h/j show ring. He was (and is) the only horse I had, and riding should be fun, so I modified my discipline of choice to one that we could both be happy doing. And the journey I've gone on with Dino over the past 6 years has taught me that there is a HUGE WORLD of equestrian sport out there beyond h/j land that can be fun, and exciting, and interesting, and challenging. I've learned a lot about myself and what I want out of my riding life, and while I do LOVE competing and taking lessons and learning and challenging myself, the thing I want most is a relationship with a pony (because they bring me more joy than big horses!) that I love spending time with, no matter what we're doing together. So, eventually I may give up eventing (even though I love it and hope to reach Novice one day!) and do something different with Dino if that's what he requires from me. We may switch to only foxhunting and trail riding. We may switch to western riding. We may stop competing. Who knows! But my partnership with him comes before any competitive goals I have for myself. I hope to have a similar relationship with my next pony, although it would be nice to have one with a little less baggage that can take me further in eventing! I have to think about what I want to do as a rider, as buying a new horse opens up a vast world of possibility that isn't open to me now. I'm thankful that Dino has allowed me to try so many things and figure out what I like, and what I don't! But I'm okay with having my competitive ambitions change to fit the partnership - competing isn't the be-all and end-all of riding for me. It's about forming a partnership.

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  6. I think a lot of us fall somewhere in the middle until the horse we have pulls us one way or the other. I have had sold horses that did not fit into my goals as a rider, yet shifted my goals for horses that had a strong grip on my heart. Luckily right now I have a great mix of a horse I would do anything for, and pursuing my riding goals. For now it works, but I know her max level in eventing may be lower than my personal goal. Hopefully Shiraz will be that next level horse though.

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    1. I agree with this 100%

      I think that all of us (ammys anyway!) have a tendency to move our goals over for the current horse we have.

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  7. Good post - I feel that this is something that has definitely fluctuated for me over the years. I have sold 2 horses that didn't fit my ambitions (very low bar here...lol) and 1 that I didn't get along with and my plans changed a bit.

    I bought my current horse more in line with my ambitions (again very low bar...lol) and it has worked out well so far. Although, I've had a taste of showing at a bit higher level and he isn't really cut out for that. I have been dabbling in dressage as an alternative (and waaay cheaper than AQHA shows) and he is showing some decent talent there, so who knows where we will end up.

    I am admittedly searching very casually for a replacement horse as my guy is 16. Not sure where I'll end up but that is part of the fuN!

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  8. Wow what a (set) of questions.

    I often get ahead of myself in what I want to accomplish and do big things, big goals, big dreams. However, reality is not shy of keeping me grounded...

    I can relate to the feeling of being confined to what you are or what you can do now. I can sit on babies, calm crazies, etc, but pushing to accomplish more I have been second guessing myself. I think, maybe I'm better off not trying to go after that dream. I can't afford it, I'm not this or that. I am just xyz...

    But then again... Where is the fun in that, in giving up? You have a spark in you? Let it set you on fire girl. I think you got this. Do it until you know you don't want to.

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  9. Loooove this post. I think my stance with Pig is pretty obvious. I bought him to be an eventer. He could no longer jump, and I couldn't sell him at the time so I just decided to stick with him and see what he could do. He's stuck with me as much as I'm stuck with him at this point. Which basically means my competition goals are still there, but just tailored to his abilities and generosity.

    My next horse will be purchased on similar grounds. Jan and I are pretty similar here. I have competition goals, and that next horse will be purchased to seek those goals. I might decide to change those goals based on the horse, or I might decide to sell and work my way up to something I can achieve those goals on.

    My goals are pretty lofty (I want to ride an compete at Grand Prix). I think that changes things a bit. I do not have the money to buy a horse purpose bred. I have to take the track rejects, breeding mistakes, or brain failures of the world and try to make them into something that can carry me to my goals. That requires me to invest in a partnership pretty heavily with the horse. It also lowers the resale value of my partner, due to previous failures. Might mean I'm stuck with something that maybe isn't suitable for a breakneck run to glory. Or something not very competitive. Alas, that's how the chips fall. Thankfully, I think brain and work ethic are more important than anything to produce an upper level horse. That's achievable, and that's what I'm looking for... once I'm done enjoying every moment of time with my old man. :)

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  10. Super post!
    I, like most above, have been on both sides. Growing up, I knew every show horse I had would have to be sold if I wanted to keep moving up and staying competitive. They were less of pets, family members and more of teammates in a competitive endeavor. I could go down another rabbit hole of why I think this mindset burned me out by 18 and fostered a complete competitive mindset at the expense of just enjoying riding (like I hated trail rides because I didn't see the point). But it was always goals were the ends and which horse was the means.
    Fast forward to my last mare wriggling her way into the family as a literal pet (and being retired at my parents' house doing absolutely nothing) and taking a few years off of horses completely. Suddenly, I'd give anything to be able to show that mare again - in whatever she could do. She's 100% MY horse. Now logistically, I live 800+ miles from her, she's 19, and my parents are attached to her (like.. seeing her outside I guess?) so it's not going to happen.

    I like to think my next one will fall somewhere in between. I have goals, but I have short-term, young person goals (dapple in low level eventing, play around with different disciplines) and long-term, have-disposable-income goals (compete at the national level in AQHA/APHA again, have a nice hunt seat/fences horse that will take me to the world show). Even if I had the horse to do the long-term goal right now, I don't have the means to show at that level so it's a complete non-starter. So, for now I just want to have fun, try new things and enjoy ponies again. I'll get back to the dream chasing eventually.

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  11. I've just been figuring this out myself with my horse. I got back into riding last year after a long (multiple decades long) break from riding and bought my first horse in October. A 14 year old Irish sport horse. Turns out he'd evented up to 1* when he was younger, but no other information out there as to what he was up to for the 8 years after that until I bought him.
    He's a great horse, great jump loads of potential and I really, really wanted to event so it all seemed great. And then we went cross country schooling - and he'll jump the jumps but after he refuses once. And he's spooky when in strange places.
    So I rethought my goals based on what Dexter was telling me he was happy doing and for the moment we'll concentrate on show jumping and build up his confidence away from home and see if that eventually translates to more confidence cross country. And if not we'll stick with show jumping.
    Life is too short and I'm lacking the confidence to be able to ride a horse to a solid xc jump without the faith that he'll jump unless there's a good reason not to.

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  12. Love that last pic - Charlie's tail is an arrow pointing right to you <3! Glad you found a horse that is enjoying the journey with you :D

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  13. Great topic! Personally I know I want to event. I'm sure there's going to be a "cruising level" which once reached I won't have the desire to move beyond at least competitively. But the day in day out aspect of building and having a relationship with my horse, figuring out what works best for all the riding, feeding, etc aspects, that's something I truly enjoy and value above competing. With Phoebe I honestly don't know what the future will hold. I hope we can get to a point where we can event, I know she's totally capable but it boils down to her and I as a pair. She's a lot of horse and carries some baggage so it's going to come down to how much patience I have and am I going to be able to tell if the partnership isn't working at some point or if we just need to slow down/change methods/what have you. Currently I can only afford one so selling isn't off the table should things go pear shaped. I'd also be willing to dabble in other English disciplines should it become clear that's where Phoebe really shines. Basically right now it's a lot of unknowns, which as a type A is pretty difficult to let go of the whole "planning for the future" because there's just no way to predict it yet.

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  14. Now which friend was it hmmmm. My riding journey is comprised of soo many different horses. The formative two being Richie and Carlos. So much of those formative years took place before blogging and with that included me watching many people try to fit square pegs (unsuitable horses) into round holes. This pretty much lays out the basis of how I choose my horses to continue my riding journey. Like you said its a combination of the both. I'm sure the BNR and BNT also have their lives touched by those day to day moments and bonds they build with the horses they love and sell too.

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  15. This is such a complicated and personal question. I think I might write my own post on it vs write an entire novel in your comments.

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  16. I really love this post! I think it's something we all need to think about, and I totally agree with you - most of us just need average. And though I don't know you personally, I think Charlie is a really good fit for you.

    I knew in 10th grade I wanted to train. So I did an Equine Science degree and went to Texas to train horses. But I realized I didn't want to be a "professional" trainer. The trainer joked with me one day that all the horses liked me best whenever I rode them. And it got me thinking. My theory is that I did the grunt work - I fed them, I gave them meds, I helped the 2 yr olds become confident with the farrier, I saddled them, groomed them, bathed them and gave them praise when they needed it. And I think that day in and day out familiarization with them was what caused them to really try for me, even though I didn't know what I was doing most of the time. And I realized I wanted that partnership.

    With Amber, my partnership with her means more to me than what she can ever do. That's mostly because I knew when she got injured 5 years ago that I might never be able to "fulfill dreams" with her. But all my generic bucket list items, most of the small ones, she's helping me to tick off. If she isn't able to do eventing for more than a few years, I'm okay with that. Because in a few years I may be done with it, too (though I don't think so). And it's made me realize I'm not a "one discipline" person. I love learning and challenging myself to do different things, which is why I think I'll love eventing and stick with it (because 3 in 1 YES). I have thought of many options if Amber doesn't like eventing, and much of it is based on soundness. But I also don't want to make it to the top of anything. I think I enjoy the journey of training and the partnership to where many times I don't care if we show or not. The bond I create with the horse is the most important to me. So I'll never sell her (probably never even lease her) but if I really want to stick with eventing, I'll probably buy a horse if Amber can't or doesn't like to event. For now, though, my goals do line up with her ability, but there's a thought in the back of my head that she'll surprise me yet. And why not? From the moment I started working with her she's surprised me over and over again. So, who knows what our goals may become?

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  17. It wasn't until I was a re-rider as an adult that I finally had a choice as to what my riding goals were. As a kid they were simple - ride anytime and anything I could. When I finally found my 'place' at my current barn and started dressage lessons, I was shocked to discover I wanted to try jumping again after college. So naturally when it came time to find a horse, one with an eventing background was found.

    As Duke gets older and our competing days wind down, I find myself thinking of the future. At this point, my goals are similar to yours - I want to event. My ultimate goal is laughable. To be comfortable going Novice and probably stay there. So when Duke #2 has to be found, it will be with that in mind.

    But I was also willing to put jumping aside after Duke came back from his injury if that was what was needed. I said I'd have no problem focusing on dressage. I think I would have been fine with that but would probably still end up searching for an eventing partner again when the time comes.

    I think if a new horse ends up wanting to stay grounded and not event, I would probably look to sell. Unless I have instant bond, I would look for one that is purposeful. Even when I considered Duke's jumping days may be over, selling wasn't an option. I think I would feel differently over a newer horse that I haven't the time and relationship invested in. Maybe?

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  18. I may need to do this as a blog hop to answer fully, but the short answer is I have horses to have fun. Competition is secondary and even my own growth as rider is secondary to fun. That's while I go do gymkhana type fun shows or go horse camping in the Sierras. I like training and getting better. I like shows. Eventing is fun, but so is endurance. I think Eugene was our must purpose-bought horse as we searched hard to find a horse that could do endurance and eventing. Even then, we bought him untried form an auction. I bought Nilla because she had cute, fluffy ears. I bought Levi because I liked his brain. What I do with my horses changes from year to year and even from month to month or day to day. The only real goal for me is enjoyment.

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  19. I think I fall into the "ride the horse you have" category. I gravitate toward thoroughbreds, so I do plan to stick with a discipline that is a good fit for thoroughbreds generally. I dedicate a lot of energy to horses and I consider it more than a hobby for me, but that is what makes me happiest. However, I don't have many concrete goals--just a desire to keep getting better as a rider and horseman.

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  20. I... have no idea where I'm going. I love having horses; I'm excited by it. I want to ride. But I also, deep down, feel like I missed out on something by only getting to show like twice as a kid, despite being in a lesson program.

    Just don't ask me what discipline. Because the answer is... complicated.

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  21. I am not sure how to really answer this, haha. There are so many ways to answer this, and I don't think any of them are wrong.

    I feel like I am more in the "I ride horses because I enjoy it and I chose these horses (or chose to stick with these horses) because I enjoy them".

    To ask "Why" I bought (and kept) each horse I have is an interesting question, and not really one I have an answer for. I have a bond with each of them (altho if I am being honest, Annie and I are still working on that whole "getting to know you thing"), and I treasure each of them deeply.

    My goals shifted back and forth with Suzie, pertaining to her fitness and soundness levels (as I am sure you saw. And my goals with Spud have never wavered - he's shown up to work and is ready to get out there and compete. The lack of funds and the unfortunate fact most driving shows are 12hrs+ away is what is mostly stopping us. Still, it doesn't stop me from enjoying him.

    As for Annie, I've only had her about six months, and for four of those months we were under some heavy snow and riding was nonexistant lol. We are starting to get into the "meat and potatos" of the relationship tho, and it seems like it is going to be a fruitful endeavour. Can I 100% say she is the horse for me? I don't know. She hasn't given me any reason to NOT keep her and continue our partnership. Time will tell tho - with my other two horses it took about a good solid year before I had a true partnership with either of them.

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  22. I love this post. I was going to comment, but then just did this instead: http://liz-stout.blogspot.com/2017/06/journey-as-rider.html

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  23. Happiness is the ultimate reason I own horses. When the show ring is no longer a happy place pleasure riding will keep me going longer than owning a string of competitive horses that cycle every few years. I'd like to believe I'm content to 'ride the horse you have' but I had that with Ben and more often than not, I chose not to ride.

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  24. I agree with a lot of what you've said in this piece. I also agree that it can change.

    My last mare Ellie was a heart horse for me, I owned her for 14 years and I quite honestly couldn't imagine parting with her. My time with her was more categorized by our partnership. I had goals, but I would have changed my goals if I had to to fit my horse. When I lost Ellie to colic, it was tragic, but I can see now that it also led me to a new stage in my life as a rider. Before I bought my next horse, I thought long and hard about my goals, which were to progress in the sport of dressage and become a better rider, while also being able to enjoy trail riding. This is similar to your idea of wanting to "get somewhere" but not necessarily to be the best of the best. I bought Kachina specifically because she seemed like the best horse to achieve those goals on. I also chose Kachina over a horse with similar potential because I felt like I connected more with her emotionally and that was a piece of the puzzle as well. I love Kachina and I enjoy working with her, but at this point in my life I feel like my goals as a rider are more important than the connection between us. If we plateau too early, I might end up making a change, but for now the slow upwards trajectory we have is working well.

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  25. I'm definitely somewhere in the middle.

    With Moe and Gina, I am firmly on the "change your goals to fit with the horse". Gina detests show jumping, so I stopped trying to make her do it. We're happy foxhunting and doing dressage. I hope she'll be happy as a broodmare! I'm not pursuing moving up with Moe because I don't think it's fair to ask him to do that, so we're enjoying dressage and low-level eventing together. In both of these cases, I am adjusting my goals because I don't feel like it's fair to try to sell these particular horses so I can pursue different goals.

    Candy's a little different. Currently, I am working to get her on board with MY goals, but if it becomes clear that she's not the horse to do that, I don't have a problem selling her. She's young, healthy, and has a good chance at success!

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  26. I define myself as being a dedicated equestrian, no matter the discipline or horse. Meaning, so try to always improve whatever the circumstances. When I was in college I rode any horse I could, and always tried to improve him no matter what their level of training was. I have equal parts dressage, eventing, and h/j show experience and training. Currently, my passion is hunters, so when I was in the position to buy a horse I found one best suited to that discipline and havr been training him for it. We have a great partnership, and that is very important to me, but should my goals change someday, and shift away from the hunter world, I would be open to selling him for a horse more appropriate for the new discipline. That may sound callous, but horses are a very expensive investment, and this IS a hobby. I would never be able to justify continuing with a horse or in a direction that that didn't make me happy. I adore my horse and I adore the hunters, and I don't see that changing, but you never know. Maybe I'll get back into dressage someday, who knows!

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  27. I think I'm also going to do a post about this since I think it's such an interesting thing to talk about!

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  28. I think you and I are quite similar in this -- I want to ride and show hunters, so in that sense I need a specific type of horse that can and WANTS to do THAT job. Not event. Not dressage. I could maybe settle for jumpers, but I've never tried it.

    My ambitions within that are also like yours -- kind blurry right now. I'm really enjoying doing more than JUST taking lessons and going to shows. I also want to do it on my own, well, the hunter princess version of that. I'm fine with accepting help (and of course staying in a training program is important to me), but I don't always want to hand my horse over to someone else to fix... I want to learn to do it myself. So right now, that's kind of my ambition. Eventually (I think) I'd like to be able to write about Miles and say "100% amateur owned and maintained, took current rider from 2' to 3' " We'll see if we get there!

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  29. My trainer asked me this weekend if I would ever sell Ryon and I told her the answer is yes. I'm firmly aligned with you - I want to do the horsey things that I want to do with a partner who can do them. Ryon can't jump anymore. At all. I don't want to jump high and actually don't have any intentions of showing but I do like my jump lessons all the same. Maybe, like you said, that'll change one day but that day is not today. My trainer is a jumper trainer but we also fully acknowledge that Mae could be a hunter (honestly I think she'd rock OUT at the hunters). And then that's potentially another change as well... so many paths and so many options but those are all good things, in my mind

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