A game pony
|December 10, 2021||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
MerryLegs is unlike any other horse I’ve ever owned or ridden.
You know all that “passion for the job, united in purpose” blah blah blah that was in the last post?
That’s not MerryLegs.
MerryLegs is the golden retriever who would like to invite herself to all your picnics and also hangout on your couch and eat snacks this evening because “we’re both free, so why not?”
Doing endurance with her would be like signing up for a 10-hour road trip with the six-year old and not providing enough self-entertainment, so she’s going to talk my ear off non-stop.
Sometimes I do want to have deep philosophical discussions with the beings around me about the why’s, how’s, and what’s.
Sometimes I. Just. Want. To. Get. To. Point. B.
I don’t click with ML in the saddle the way I click with Farley or other purpose-driven mares. I’m not always completely sure who’s game I’m playing – hers or mine.
She’s not a horse you can do the same thing in the same way three times in a row. That’s boring. So she’ll liven things up a bit with a bit of “how long until you notice what I’m doing with my hindquarters?” or “Let’s learn to bow instead!” Or, my favorite – “have you considered doing it this way instead? Much more efficient and FUN.”
The games are never mean and there’s not a dirty streak to be found in her… but it’s like trying to get my six-year old to focus on sounding out the letters when she would prefer to be doing fractions and division…YOU HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO READ EVEN THOUGH YOU JUST WANT TO DO MATH ALL THE TIME.
But, here’s the thing about MerryLegs.
She makes me laugh.
She’s funny and silly and engaging. She’s that glamorous supermodel at the cocktail party that knows how to make small talk and make everyone feel special.
She’s the first horse that I consistently anthropomorphize because I can’t find the horsey words to describe this horse.
I love just spending time hanging out with her. She’s the first horse I’ve ever wished I could bring home and keep in my backyard.
Is that enough for her to *earn a place with me indefinitely?
*I realized when I link that post it was one that ended up in my book, so I pulled is down off the blog. Here’s the excerpt that I had in mind:
“I always hope I’m making the right decision when I buy or lease or a horse, but sometimes it’s not a good fit. Life is short and not every horse I touch deserves a forever home with me. It’s presumptuous to think that I am the only person who can truly give a horse a good home. Sure, bad things happen, but that’s true in life. You can’t totally protect your kids, your horses, or your friends from it. But that doesn’t mean you let your fear of what could happen to the horse keep you from moving that horse down the road where they could have a job they love, with a person they trust if they aren’t gePing that from you.
I feel that too often guilt or a sense that something bad might happen keeps people from making good decisions with a horse that isn’t working out. This is different from an older horse near retirement being dumped because it can no longer perform of course, but I think too often people confuse the two issues and think they are one and the same.
Finding a home for a young, sound, healthy horse that isn’t working out is the smart thing to do. Hopefully it finds a place in the world so it can then sePle into a well-earned and deserved retirement some day. Wasting time on an obviously unsuitable horse while it is still competitively sound only wastes precious time for it. It could be finding its forever home. Before you know it, you have a late- teens horse that is still unsuitable for your home for whatever reasons, but now it has age issues and should be retired or lightly used, and it has lost that chance to find that right home.”
I usually calm the squirrel in my brain that is shrieking about ML wasting her life with me by reminding myself :
- When you need ML to do the Right Thing right now, she always does it without question and perfectly, all games set aside. That’s a really nice horse to have in your back pocket.
- She’s absolutely the best companion and friend to Farley, who deserves every luxury in this world for her years of service she has given me. The right companionship has got to rank pretty high in the horsey world as a reward for “job well done.”
- I am no longer a broke college student. The amount I pay to board and maintain her currently is one of my smaller bills, not the biggest one any more. I can afford to hang on to her because she makes me happy (and she does, when I quit worrying about should’s), not because she’s done some incredible feat (and let’s face it – sometimes bringing happiness is a feat unto itself).
But, despite all this perfectly reasonable justification and perfectly logical over the years I’ve bumped into the same question.
What to do with MerryLegs?
She’s no help. She’s like that friend that never chooses the restaurant when it’s time to eat and always says “oh! It’s up to you! Whatever you want is fine :).”
In the past when I’ve dropped ML off at Amber’s the focus has been on preparing her for an endurance career. We weren’t sure it was the right fit for her…but it was “something” until “something else” came along.
Even back then I noticed something – she likes the arena better than the trail. I did my best to ignore this since we all know the arena exist solely as a stepping stone to the trail.
*heh heh heh* says someone who is currently obsessed with a game inside an arena and hasn’t been on the trail for a month.
This time me and Amber are going to try something different wiht ML.
This horse wants to play and be kept entertained.
Fine. Let’s play.
Stop! Turn! GO FAST! Gooooo sloooowwwwwww. Stop. Go. Walk canter transition. Canter halt. Back. Pivot. Always be ready for the next cue. Never know what you are doing until SURPRISE! TURN AND GALLOP……Be quick. Be smooth. Don’t lose your sh*t. Now let’s throw some obstacles in the arena and some fancy stuff.
We are going to install some new buttons on top of her really solid foundation and see what happens. Quickness, lightness, and speed. See if we can organize her canter and gallop into something functional.
I don’t know whether she will play polo, be my practice stick and ball horse, or do trail obstacle classes (my current brainstorm list of what she might be good at and we could have fun with together), but we’ll give it a go and see what we have in a couple of months.
The squirrel in my brain hasn’t shut up of course. It’s just changed its tune.
I don’t know if ML can do it.
As a really young horse she had a really rough bout of internal pigeon fever. I’ve always felt she was a little NQR in how she moved and developed after that. Nothing I could definitely put my finger on.
But I also think she’s never gotten a fair chance. The first time she went to Ambers I was pregnant and the goal was to just get some saddle time on a young horse. The second time she went to Amber’s she had a painful ovary tumor, which required surgery right afterwards. After her 6 week recovery I was off to Loma Linda to treat my brain/eye tumor. And then…the pandemic.
Every time I’ve tried to do anything with this horse it feels like the universe has back-handed us.
I’m scared that all that early bad luck for both of us means we will never really find our stride. That her canter is permanently broken. That at (almost) ten years old it’s too late for anything at all. That she or I will break every time we try and do something together and this is a permanently cursed partnership.
I never said my squirrel brain was logical.
And then of course, there’s my half of the equation.
I’m scared I’m not a good enough rider for her. That I don’t have what it takes to ride this horse. That her talents are going to be something I have zero interest in. That once she’s broke to ride I won’t actually like riding her. That she will continue to break every time I try and do something with her and at some point I’m going to have to make hard decisions of what to do with her for her safety and mine.
I won’t know until I get there.
Which doesn’t reassure the squirrel very much, but it’s the truth and when I speak the truth out loud it is usually satisfied for a time
ML has been at Amber’s for a little less than a week. She’s doing well (living up to her 3 year old “Rockstar” nickname) and all three of us are crossing our fingers that third time is the charm and we get to actually have some fun.
PS if you are interested in the day to day happenings of what I’m doing and seeing, similar to how this blog used to operate, follow me on instagram @drmelnewton
Sounds like MerryLegs might fit right into your new sport, but if she makes you happy and is a good companion horse, I think you should have no regrets keeping her. I recently retired Darmir from endurance, as I’ve lost my nerve to go fast enough to finish in time. Does feel like I’m kind of wasting his talent and I really had hopes of getting him to 3000 miles (only 4 rides to go!) but at least we made decade team. And I can still do all the riding and arena work I was doing before. Cool thing about endurance in my neck of the woods is that there’s a real family spirit, plenty to do to stay involved and this way I’ll always be back in ride camp in time for dinner!
Hope you find that kind of comradeship in your polo endeavors and happy trails, even if it is in the arena!