Thursday, July 28, 2011

Now what do I do?

In the past week I have ridden a horse, again.


With my knee brace on and my heart in my throat. I have never felt so scared on a horse before. All my years of riding especially those spent with my hot,hot,hot thoroughbred mare have taught me how to ride calm while I'm freaking inside so the ride looks good to those watching but I wish I felt that way.

What horse have I ridden? This is a sale horse that my trainer called me out of the blue about. The horse showed up earlier in the month as a sale prospect. Nobody was even thinking of me as a prospective buyer until somebody mentioned it. My trainer began paying more attention to this horse and noticed how bombproof he was. He wasn't sure if I was even interested in looking, but this horse has kind of landed out of the blue and seems like an opportunity I shouldn't ignore.

He called me about the horse again when he was at a horse show where they brought the horse for one of the barn girls to just try him and see what he would do. Seems the horse was cantering on the rail when the guy delivering soda drove up, parked his truck next to the fence and lifted the back door of the truck just as this horse went by. And the horse just cantered calmly past as the metal door rattled up loudly right next to him. So my trainer says please just come out to the barn and look at him while one of the barn girls rides him and if I think I want to try riding him then he'll help me get on (and get off, dismounting with one good knee and one unpredictable one is also scary.)

And I am a sucker. Both times I've ridden him he's been very sweet. He's a gelding, comfy as a couch to ride, 6 or 7 years old and a little under 16.2 hands tall with a nice chunky build. He seems broke well in the basics but still green. I'm the friggin' mess. Four months nursing my knee has left me out of shape and the nerves expended when I'm in the saddle just drain me more. I'm scared of something happening and this knee either getting messed up further or causing something else to happen and I get more hurt. What am I doing? I'm supposed to have knee surgery and then rehab and then consider riding again.

I am afraid to admit I like this horse. And if he actually passes a vet and we can negotiate the price where I'm comfortable then what? I buy a horse, ride him for a few weeks, have surgery and hope my trainer will get one of his girls to exercise him so he stays in "horse with a job" mode? Where the hell was this horse four months ago? I'd be headed toward my first hunter pace this fall if he'd shown up then and this unfortunate mess hadn't happened to me.

So what do I do? I am so conflicted. :(

And I'm headed to the barn to ride him again tonight.


Once Upon an Equine said...

He sounds nice. I hope he "is the one" and that you can work something out around your surgery and rehab. Yeah, the timing isn't great, but timing often goes awry when people and horses mix. My horse has been out of commission for 4 months when I expected to be doing lots of riding and enjoying our brief summer in Colorado. It's frustrating, and I know my experience is nothing compared to the frustration and patience you've endured.

It's nice that someone thought of you and put you in touch with this horse. It shows that there will be opportunities. Good luck with your decision. Have a nice ride this evening.

Barbara said...

My advice? Not knowing you except through your blog....
Get on him. Get on him every chance you get. If you are a bundle of nerves then just sit. If he gets bored with being a couch then walk. Do not feel the need to put him thru his paces, trot, canter, whatever. Just sit on the horse and try to let go of your fear and just feel him breath and feel him move around. Your muscle memory will eventually surface and kill off some of the fear. I had a hot TB that was out of work for over a year. Previous to that we had some small wrecks and I spent some time sitting in the dirt. When I put him back into work he was happy and forward and raring to go. I felt out of shape and intimidated. (and I was not dealing with an injury like you are). All I did for weeks was walk him around, a little bit of trotting. After weeks of this one day I felt the urge to try a canter and I did it before I could panic and get off. A minute later I had a big grin on my face and was laughing out loud as we cantered around. I felt like I had come home and started jumping lessons back up the next day.
I don't think that would have happened if I hadn't given myself the time to just sit on the horse with no pressure from myself. When we finally got back to running and jumping it was because I couldn't stand NOT to - not because I felt pressured to.
Use this horse's nice temperament to re-introduce yourself to enjoying the feeling of sitting on a horse. If you fall in love with him, buy him. If not, there will be others.

Dreaming said...

Yeah, the timing may be awful, but it sounds like a perfect horse has fallen into your 'lap'.
Could you lease him for a bit to give him a try?
Maybe surgery and rehab would give you a good chance to observe someone ride him and for him to get some additional schooling.
Tough decision, eh?

Lisa said...

This is a good thing. The horse won't care even if he is put of work for a while, he will think he has hit the jackpot! There is always time to bring him back in to work when you are better.

Timing is not great, but just having a horse again will do wonders for you I think. I know what you are feeling being horseless, and only one thing fills that hole.

Denali's Mom said...

Oh god. I know exactly how you feel. I keep making excuses not to ride. I can't breath when I do because my heart is in my throat. Good luck, follow your heart! I know that's easier to say, especially when your hear is in your mouth.

Dreaming said...

Yeah, the timing may be awful, but it sounds like a perfect horse may have fallen into your lap.
Could you lease him for a bit to give him a try?
Maybe surgery and rehab would give you a good chance to observe someone ride him and for him to get some additional schooling.
Tough decision!

Cheryl Ann said...

I understand your position, completely. I fell off a friend's horse back in August, 2009 and I haven't been back on a horse since. PERIOD. I now have permanent nerve damage in my legs and I can't feel anything in my feet. I would LOVE to have a totally bombproof horse. I have 5 and ALL of them are in training and are just getting saddle broke!

Justaplainsam said...

Buy him! See if you can get a girl/kid to lease him or show him for the summer. (hes gets exposed, the kid gets to show).

Tammy said...

You sound happy. Scared, but happy. That's a good sign.

Jean said...

Oh, dear. Once again, my heart is aching for you, because of both your fear and your dilemma.

First the fear. Normal. Absolutely. The only way to conquer it is to ride. Hang out with the horse. Hug him, get to know him, feel his honesty. He will tell you if he is the horse for you. Trust your gut because he will be speaking to you.

Ride, ride ride, even if it's only at a walk. He sounds like a really good prospect and I have a feeling your trainer thinks so too. He knows you as a rider and certainly knows what kind of horse you need now. Considering how much difficulty you have had trying to find a horse like this, I'd hate to see him slip through your fingers.

As for the surgery and rehab...the horse will only help you. I am facing double knee replacements and my desire to be able to be home to care for my horses and eventually get back to riding them is going to be strong medicine to make me heal faster. I know it's going to drive me like a madwoman in rehab.

So, if indeed, this horse is all he appears to be...and so far so good...then I vote you go for it as long as you can manage the costs. I have a feeling that since he is so likely to be "A Good Horse" you will have no problem having riders waiting in line to keep him exercised for you in the meantime.

By the by, I still remember a very good friend of mine showing up at the barn in a full leg cast, on crutches, taking her her horse out for a walk. We horsefolk are a different breed from the rest of humankind. You will surprise yourself.

Kate said...

He sounds great, I hope it all works out for you. My only words of wisdom would be follow your heart. If you passed him up would you regret it forever? If you would, go for it. If not, mehaps it isn't quite right.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

You already know what to do.

You're doing better than me. It took me a full year before I could safely and confidently ride a horse again. After knee surgery, and then breaking my tibial plateau just 4 months later, I just wasn't strong enough, confident enough, nor healed enough to even consider riding.

Because my knee injury happened on my left knee, it changed the way I mounted, too. I still can't mount on the left, due to weakness in that knee. It can buckle on me at inopportune times and it's been 2 1/2 years since my knee surgery, and my horse and I have had to adjust.

Ultimately, whatever you decide to do has to be your decision, and only you know what you are capable of and what is good for you.

You know what to do. Trust your instincts.


twhlady said...

I am glad to hear that you might have a good prospect. Truly bad timing but I'm glad it might work out for you. If you are really interested I would say see if your trainer had some students that may want to ride him and show while you recover. He'll stay in shape and you will still have the opertunity to ride after you have recovered.

Jennifer said...

What do you do?
You ride as much as you can.
Like the others have said, if all you can do one day is groom, you do that. If the next day you can sit up there, great. The third, walk or just stand quietly.

The *right* horse won't need to canter a course or gallop with the hounds until you're ready.

Good luck. Helmets, good boots, and a quiet head.. You've got all those things. :)

Annette said...

I agree with all the other comments - especially Barbara and Kate. You never know what you are getting in terms of injuries and soundness with a horse. Heck, he could be the one laid up in a year (speaking from experience). But a good brain in a horse is worth a million bucks - and those horses are seldom for sale. If he's as sweet and level headed as it sounds, my vote is go with him.