Thank you all for your positive, encouraging comments about Gina on the last post! They got me thinking, though: when do you give up on a horse?
Gina is a horse that came with some major problems from somewhere. For those that haven’t been reading for a long time or don’t know, I bought Gina in 2011 from a therapeutic riding center where I worked. She had been donated by a family whose teenage daughter had ridden hunter/jumpers on her; (It’s beyond me why the center accepted Gina, as she was wildly unsuitable for therapeutic work in ever possible way.)
|Before me, Gina’s days consisted of eating, sleeping, and pooping.|
I incorrectly assumed Gina was a reliable jumper because she’d been stabled at various well-respected H/J barns in Tulsa and had a relatively recent competition record. I also saw pictures of her jumping.
|It’s okay, Gina, no one is judging you for looking like a carousel horse here.|
At the time, the only access I had to an arena was a very small indoor used for therapeutic riding lessons which didn’t have jumps. Before I committed to buying Gina, I dragged out some bright blue plastic barrels and some poles; it took a lot of convincing to get her over them, but I blithely wrote it off as Gina being unused to seeing such…creative jumps.
- Fear for Gina: she was 14 when I bought her, and as each year passed, I became more and more worried Gina would not find an appropriate home. Part of this fear is due to a nearby horse auction that kill buyers are known to frequent. I wouldn’t send her to an auction, but her next owner might.
- Guilt: I felt very guilty for a very long time for buying this horse in the first place, without a thorough assessment of her ability to do what I wanted. I felt like I needed to keep trying with her, because I’d wanted her so badly.
- Progress: Gina isn’t all bad; she’s really pretty good. We made a lot of progress in dressage, and enough (admittedly slow) progress over fences to keep me feeling optimistic.
- Gina wasn’t dangerous: Okay, so rearing over ground poles isn’t exactly safe, but I’ve never felt unsafe on Gina. Sure, she can be an idiot, but it’s always in a “jump sideways and snort and back up” way- never bucking, bolting, or rearing (since the ground pole incident). I’ve always felt I can handle her silliness, and it’s never totally random.
- Gina is healthy: She has hooves like iron, doesn’t let a fat hind leg or windpuffs stop her, and doesn’t have any major soundness issues. She’s a little stiff when she starts out, but she works out of it right away.