Making do with what you have
Periodically, I get super bummed out about my horse situation. I have two elderly horses; I fully expect them to die within the next decade, because equine lifespans top out around 30 years. Both horses show signs of age: Gina crackles like a Rice Krispie for the first 15-20 minutes of a ride and sometimes struggles to maintain her canter around tight turns. Moe has a harder time keeping weight on than ever before and has lost some of his boldness over jumps. When this mood strikes me, I usually take to browsing the local OTTB organizations or Equine Now classifieds, then feeling even more bummed because a third horse isn’t a good financial decision right now.
whining to discussing this with Johnny a few days ago, and he pointed out that Moe and Gina aren’t dead yet, don’t seem to have any apparent soundness problems, and were probably perfectly functional for working on the whole host of riding problems I have. He basically advised me to make do with what I have (which is a whole lot more than some people have), because a new horse a) won’t fix my problems, and b) isn’t coming any time soon. (Johnny is very hot on the real talk.)
This seems like something that should have been obvious, but I was so focused on thoughts like “Oh my god, Moe is old and feeble, I can’t jump around a Training level event with him” that I didn’t stop to think if I could jump around a Training level event (the answer is no).
Here’s a short list of things I can do on Moe and Gina, despite their decrepitude:
- Lots of two-point to help my lower leg
- Jump gymnastics to improve my position and my eye (and improve the horses’ jumping faults)
- Gallop sets to improve my internal clock
- Sitting trot in dressage saddle to improve my position (maybe a little limited, because Gina’s back can only take so much flailing from me)
- Practice lateral movements to enhance my feel for them and refine my aids
A new horse won’t magically fix my position problems or insecurities. Gina’s neurotic behavior over fences doesn’t help me much, but reliable old Moe can help me fix my eye, my leg, and my confidence. Gina has a lot to teach me a lot about dressage- maybe we’ll improve those First Level scores at the next show! There’s a lot of work I can do before my two are retired (or dead).
So for now, I’m putting a hold on my equine window shopping. There’s no need to hasten the demise of my horses, and there’s plenty of reasons to be glad I can make do with what I have.