My friend and I were talking the other day about what it's like having horses as an adult, discussing the slumps and moments of, "why do I even have a horse right now because life is nuts and maybe I shouldn't be doing this anymore". GIRL do I ever know that feeling.
Affording horses is HARD. Am I in debt because of Goose? Yes. Would it have made more financial sense had I sold him before I moved out of NJ when he could have had the perfect home as a Foxhunter extraordinaire? Yes. Have I seriously considered selling him at several points over the last eight years of owning him? Yes. Do I have regrets? Hell f'ing NO.
There are moments when life gets too busy and I don't have the time I'd like to dedicate to Goose and the barn. When my work schedule blew up at the end of 2018 as I was also closing on the condo, I think I went at least six weeks without seeing him, and then when I was moving into the condo I barely saw him again as I was a total nutcase between work and moving. There were many days I felt equal parts guilt and dread about owning a horse I was barely seeing, while simultaneously missing the heck out of him.
|Muddy land hippo|
At other times of the year when I have more time to dedicate to riding, I sometimes feel a little stuck. I get caught up in feelings of inadequacy both in my riding and in Goose's capabilities, not so much as a negative on his part but just wishing he was more forward, wishing we were both a little more athletic, dreaming of what my next horse will be that he's not. I absolutely adore Goose, he is my heart horse through and through and I'm constantly impressed by the athleticism his land-hippo frame possesses and his good nature and tolerance of nearly everything I do with him. But still, the "what if" comes to mind that IF I had a different horse maybe I'd have drive to show a little more, lesson a little more, do XYZ a little more.
Frankly all of that is bullshit. I have a lovely horse who is nicer than he has any right to be considering his PMU status and the real issue for both of us is I don't have the money for consistent training. Truth is, I don't want to show anymore, at least not right now, and while I wish I could lesson more consistently I have a lot of years of lessons to reflect on and pull knowledge from, and I'm very good at working on homework in between the few lessons I can manage throughout the year. We're fine.
I also own the most perfect horse for this stage of my life, and I'll tell you why. Goose is half land hippo, half air fern. He lives on pasture at a wonderful and reasonably priced pasture board facility, so all in all he's pretty damn affordable as far as horses go *knocks on every piece of wood within reach*. Goose also doesn't give two craps about having time off. From a fitness perspective, it's absolute hell trying to get him back in shape, however he can sit for three months in the winter and I can hop back on in the spring and it's if he's been ridden every day for a month in terms of where his brain is. He is an amateur's DREAM in the inconsistent riding yet excellent brain department. When I was in the midst of personal turmoil with work and buying the condo, I didn't really worry about him. Yes I felt guilt, but I knew he had eyes on him at the barn and he was fat and happy and probably thought I'd FINALLY retired him at the ripe old age of 14. I have a horse that doesn't need consistency to thrive and that has been the saving grace of my adult life, he is my constant Goober no matter how often I see him or what level of work he's in. If he has food, he is living his dream.
|Field full of grass, begs for snacks|
Goose is also a dreamboat to ride. It's taken us many years to get here, but he's lost a lot of his nasty spooking habits over the years, and has become such a solid citizen. The hardest part about him is his lack of forward or wanting to work hard, but I know how to ride him and we make it work. With consistency he gets fancy, but he's also so game to just ride bareback on the buckle and watch the dogs run around like lunatics. He is comfy, reliable, and a genuinely fun ride these days, especially if I'm not asking him to stop going around like a giraffe.
|Loves to ride with his girlfriend, Zena|
New to his resume is children's pony. Over the past year, my friend's daughter has ridden him with me quite a few times. She's four and sits in front of my saddle and we ride around the field while Meredith rides her mare. Goose is a hero and doesn't care at all about the giggling kid sitting on his shoulders. I can feel him thinking about where she is, and he tends to move under her if she gets off balance (also I'm holding her so she's fine no matter what) and we trottle and canter around and his kid has a blast. I've also put her on him in the field and he follows me around while this tiny tot has so much fun on her overgrown Shetland pony.
He also has been borrowed recently by another really sweet kid at the barn. A few horses are struggling with abscesses, so when she was horseless during an important lesson week since our trainer is moving, I offered for her to play on Goose. She's 10 and a great little rider and when her mom sent me videos of her trotting Goose around a course of cross rails it was the absolute CUTEST THING I've ever seen in my life. She's kicking away and Goose is going his steady pace like yeah yeah kid we're getting there. When she pats him after the jumps and he stretches his head down like "yup you're right I'm a VERY good boy" it melts my frozen heart. If I magically win the lottery and can afford a second horse before he needs to be retired, I'd love for him to have his own kid to play with. (Blogger won't let me caption these, but both videos used with parental permission).
Two days after he was trotting his cross rails with his kid cargo, I rode and popped him around a couple jumps where he absolutely charged the fences. Goose is so fun to jump, except when his 1400lb frame is charging around in an extremely unbalanced fashion and I'm worried we're going to fall around the corners. We got it together and had a blast, if he were more careful over fences I think he'd actually be quite fun in the jumper ring. The whole time I was jumping I kept thinking, how is this the same horse that wouldn't canter a jump two days ago for his kid? The mind boggles, but he's such a great babysitter.
Another reason Goose is the best is that he lets me live my childhood dreams of being a feral pony kid. After I jumped him around, we were going walking around the front field with a couple other horses and I jokingly said to Meredith, "want to hop up too?" and she said yes and therefore it was no longer a joke and she hopped up and off we went. He felt no different, just happy to mosey around for a lap and bring us back up to the barn after, accepting full payment for his services in the form of two apples and a handful of cookies.
Other amateurs can keep their fancy imported warmbloods and expensive rated shows. These days I find myself content to play with my land hippo unicorn, the Goosicorn, if you will.