For the first time in a while, I've found myself officially horseless. I don't own or lease. And it's totally weird. I feel unmotivated and sad.
Almost two years ago now – crazy to say that out loud – I retired Wow due to his c-spine osteoarthritis. Working and jumping became much more uncomfortable for him and I knew it was time for him to just enjoy being a horse. After a decent amount of time looking for the perfect spot for him, off he went to live life in a pasture surrounded by other horse friends, goats, dogs and kids that would dote on and love him.
After Wow was officially retired, I took some time riding lesson horses to get rid of bad habits and regain my confidence. Once I was able to trust myself in the saddle again, my trainer had a young mare in the barn for training that I was able to start riding. I was definitely not a 'mare person' as I had always had geldings. At just 16hh she was quite smaller than what I had typically ridden and as a chestnut mare I proceeded cautiously. However, there was something about Stella that drew me to her. She has a kind eye and a lovely disposition.
It took me a while to click with her in the ring as she was much more horse than I was used to. Her ground covering stride that often times needed a 'whoa' down the lines was so different than having to land and push for the reals. Her trot is MASSIVE. She is one of the fanciest horses I've ever seen – let alone ridden. She was quite green at the time we became partners but she was everything I never knew I needed. I excitedly started leasing her.
I enjoyed learning and growing with her over our time together. In our first year showing we were unbeatable under saddle. She made showing and riding fun again. She made jumping 3ft again enjoyable and not vomit-inducing stressful.
Life with Stella wasn't all roses sunshine. There was a time where after a few stops in lessons and some rough shows I had to pull up my big girl pants and decide that it was all my fault. I was giving Stella mixed signals or at times I just stopped riding and sat there like a sack of potatoes. She wasn't experienced enough at the time to make a decision and needed me for that guidance. I decided that I needed to ride better. Simple as that.
So, I became stronger. I spent more time with her on the flat educating her on riding leg to hand, half halts, lifting her front end and overall being more responsive. It helped us leaps and bounds. We became one unit and I loved every minute of it. Even some of the crazy rides we had. I was learning as a rider and she was learning more about being a show horse.
Stella had been for sale for a little while and damned if it just wasn't the right time for me to buy or I would have bought her in a heartbeat! However, she sold to a family at the barn whose kid wasn't quite ready to take the reins so I fortunately still got the opportunity to lease her. It was a win-win.
Fast forward a little bit and it is now time for the kid to fully enjoy and grow with her mare, which has left me without a lease horse. Or a horse at all actually. And for the first time I've felt unmotivated to go to the barn. I hate this feeling because I love horses, riding and the barn atmosphere.
So, officially horseless me now just rides in lessons on whatever horse is available. I feel like that's a HUGE step backwards from where I was. I was excited to get into the 3ft. Adult Amateur ring this year. And now that's not going to happen.
Don't get me wrong, I'm lucky for the chance to continue riding, but it's just not the same. I had goals and now who knows when that'll happen. Especially when I add in the cross country move to San Diego in the coming months. I've started looking at barns in San Diego, but being the 'new girl' somewhere is never fun.
I need to find my motiviation again. I need to renew my equestrian spirit and remember that I ride because it's fun. That showing and goals to move up divisions is just icing on the cake, the cherry on the sundae.
Something I've been reminding myself of when I get down about being horseless is something my husband said to me as we were talking about buying horses in Florida with him being active duty Navy. I tell people it's the most romantic thing anyone has ever said to me, and I stand by that to this day. He said,
The next few years are about me and the Navy until I retire. After that, it's all about you.
I've taken that to mean once he retires we will be getting a horse. He has been so supportive in this, but with the military life it is hard to own horses and be involved in the show scene. Hubby can retire in 2024, so I have four years until I will no longer be horseless. Pray for me.
If you are experiencing a horesless time in your life, how do you handle it?
What do you do to continue to feel super connected to the sport and these animals we love?