cooling off

When Murray first decided I first realized that Murray needed to be retired, I was interested in getting a new horse right away. Interested doesn’t even cover it, really. I was desperate. It was like I didn’t know what I would do without a horsey project to call my own. When I went to see that horse back in December (who ultimately didn’t work out) I had spent plenty of time stalking him online and was already imagining what my life would be like with his fabulous show name. I found all of his old sale videos, watched his current sale videos relentlessly, and when he didn’t work out, I was back to scouring the internet, looking for a good deal.


a certain extremely cute pony’s begging behavior is so firmly ingrained that he even begs for treats in the field

It’s a good thing that horse didn’t work out, because the reality is that I didn’t have the money for another horse just then — not the cash up front, and not the cash flow to pay for all the horsey expenses. And I’m still not in the financial or work position where I’d feel comfortable taking on a full-time horse — owned or otherwise.

In January when I posted about my thoughts on future horsey-dom, I had come to terms with the fact that I didn’t really have the money for a new horse yet, but I was still medium-key bummed about it. Sure, pony lessons were fun, but I couldn’t help but think about how much progress I could be making with my new horse in that time. And also heavily window shopping for said horse in the mean time. If a great deal had fallen into my lap in March, I don’t think I would have turned it down.


Murray was never into selfies pre-retirement

More than six months down the line, I’ve no longer got my-own-horse FOMO and I’m very glad I didn’t rush into anything with a new horse. Completely ignoring the money issue — I think we can all take that limitation to its logical conclusion — there are so many things about my current life that make horse ownership impractical. Especially green horse ownership! The glaring issue is the time. All that time I spent driving back and forth to California would not be doing my new (inevitably green) horse any favors. Even when I’m home, the farm isn’t exactly a low-key and undemanding job. I’ve spent more than a few days sitting in the truck or on the tractor for eight hours at a time, doing water runs, prepping fields, checking trees. And those are absolutely not things that I can just ditch to go riding (unlike constantly skipping out on writing up my thesis, lollll).

Also, if I’d bought a horse right after retiring Murray, you bet I would have rushed into it somewhat. Like, sure. I had a list and all that, but I’m also a sucker for a cute face and even more of a sucker for a good price. Emotionally/mentally compromised Nicole is not necessarily logical Nicole — and who knows how much TrJ would have been able to hold me back. That would very possibly have led to me being in a Murray-like position again because I think horses with a lot of “personality” are super funny and adorable. But it could also have led to a not-so-great fit between me and the horse, and then I’d be in the position of trying to sell a young, green horse. Which I know would suck. It absolutely would have led to me being back in the position of riding a green horse and trying to teach a green horse the basics of connection and dressage and jumping and not in the position to grow my skills where Murray and I left off. If I had my own horse, I wouldn’t have the lease on Timer right now.


me with every cute horse I see on the internet: I love you so much and you will be mine

Ultimately, this cooling off period was really good for me. I would never have asked for it at first, but I am so glad it happened. Time really was what I needed to chill out, but having great horses to ride in the interim certainly helped. At this point, I’m completely willing to wait on horse buying — for 6 more months, for a year, for two years — I’m no longer in a rush at all. My new dream situation is to pick up my second horse while maintaining my lease on Timer, so I can keep building my skills on T while new horse settles into the routine and gets with the program.

A few months ago, I was worried that not having my own horse would expedite losing my identity as a rider and someone who loves to learn about and improve my riding. But I’m not worried about that any more. Clearly I’m able to fit riding into my weird and wacky schedule given enough horsey enough flexibility. And even if riding isn’t my seven-day-a-week-all-day-at-the-barn-whenever-I-can-make-it-work hobby obsession of 2014/2015, that doesn’t make me any less able to work hard and grow in the time I do get to spend there. I’d love to get back to riding every day or even multiple horses a day in the future, but it’s just not in the cards right now. And that’s way more okay than I realised back in December.


more idyllic trail rides in my future, please!

6 thoughts on “cooling off

  1. The thing I love best about horses and riding is how flexible it really can be. It can look like 7 days a week, full training program, showing every weekend. But it also can look like a catch ride when able, lessons on a lesson pony, trail rides etc…. really it can work into your life in so many ways

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  2. This is pretty much exactly the situation I ended up doing, and it has been awesome for me. I started off leasing a horse after graduating college, and am super glad I leased her for a year instead of buying, because she was not the right fit for me or my goals. Now I have a full lease on an awesome gelding that is helping me move up the levels, and I ended up being able to buy a young horse that I can allow to grow and develop while I still get experience on my lease. Definitely the best of both worlds!

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  3. It is wonderful to have the lease option. And I agree, cooling off is a good thing. But I’m like you when it comes to ponies on the internet.. I think you have a great plan and it will really pay off for you.

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  4. I totally identify with so much of this… it’s hard for me to not have a pony to be working on. But at the same time I really can’t afford to buy a new horse right now, and if I did it would have to be something really cheap and green and I also don’t have time for that kind of horse right now either. So as hard as it is, waiting and leasing or catch riding is the best option for now. I’m hoping that by being patient I’ll end up with the right horse at the right time in my life.

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  5. Totally relate to this. I’m struggling with stepping back (like alllll the way back) from a half lease and pretty full competition schedule, to lessoning once a week (or less because it’s show season and people/horses are often gone) and catch riding what I can. It’s tough on my “identity as a rider” because, um, I’m barely riding right now. And I love learning and growing and getting better. So I’m trying to do other stuff like volunteering at shows and auditing clinics to stay involved and keep learning. But it’s still hard.

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