It’s been a busy week here at the ranch — firewood stacking, crop research, ag meetings, field scoping, forest exploration, water permits. The kinds of things that don’t wait for you, even if you ask nicely. I had enough time to squeeze in my pony rides, but found myself feeling a little melancholy and missing Murray.
Most of the time I’m just fine — and sometimes I’m probably inappropriately cheerful — about Murray’s retirement. Obviously I don’t wish we’d been sidelined by nine (well, ten). I know it was the right decision, and I know that this doesn’t signal the end of me riding or showing or doing fun and amazing things with horses. Maybe even horses who cross tie and tack up easily — who knows! But last week? I had the morbs.
I’m not sure exactly what brought it on. Probably because the pony hasn’t been taking to dressage like a salmon returning to his natal stream. And all of the tools I have to deal with a horse who doesn’t dressage are Murray-shaped screwdrivers, not pony-shaped drill bits. Once the pony started making a little progress, I fell into a bit of my own mental positivity trap. I was like “now that I can get you to stretch down into the bridle for one or two strides at a time, it’s straight uphill from here, little guy! nothing but PSG for us!”
But — shocker — that’s not how it went. I started thinking about leasing another horse in the barn. A horse sized horse. Who has dressage training and has competed at training level and, well, goes on the bit.
Murray wasn’t perfect, but I had a path and a plan for him. I knew where I was going in his dressage training and, for better or worse, I intimately knew what his training holes were. And I was pretty optimistic about the places we could still go. There was plenty of fun left in our relationship, even if we weren’t jumping the biggest fences or galloping at break-neck speeds.
Plus, he taught me SO MUCH. He taught me how to be patient — like, really patient — and creative. He totally enabled my obsession with continued learning and animal behavior. And he was fun to ride! Minus being lame, the last year and a half or so were so much more fun than struggle. He wasn’t everyone’s type of ride, but I loved riding him.
I miss learning with him, and playing with him. I miss laughing at his ridiculousness, and telling absurd Murray stories to my friends.
It’s a funny feeling to simultaneously know that a horse wasn’t the right horse for me and yet to deeply, thoroughly appreciate him for all the lessons and learning. To be glad that you don’t have to deal with spookiness and flightiness and stupid tacking-up dances and miss him terribly at the same time.