A case for intro rides
|May 8, 2023||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
“Look, she’s 24 years old and an Arab. If she keels over on you out there from an aneurysm it’s not your fault and she died happy.”
It was meant to reassure my friend heading out for her first endurance-style ride on a horse she had never ridden, in a saddle she had never sat in, but from the look of horror on everyone’s face I think I might have missed the mark.
I tried to defend myself. “If I say it before it happens then she will know I mean it when I say it during all the drama and everyone is crying!”
It wasn’t the only thing I fumbled this weekend.
It’s been six years since I loaded up horse in a trailer and pulled into ride camp. Farley may have made it to the other side of those years ready-to-go beyond the addition of some grey hairs, but my gear and lists didn’t fare so well.
I don’t own a turnout blanket or enough buckets anymore. A high tie is no longer attached to my trailer (’cause this trailer has never seen a ride camp), and I don’t own a rump rug. Apparently I donated the last of my electrolyte stash to the polo club two years ago and never replaced it. I got into my saddle for a quick pre-ride the day before and yelled “who rode in this last!” and it was probably me five years ago but the stirrups felt about two holes too long and the stirrup bars were waaaaaaay too far back.
A few of my favorite things have survived – Gear that I put in a special “gotta keep” pile amongst the things that were trashed or donated when I cleaned out my two-horse trailer earlier this year. My crew bag. My bale bag that truly holds a big three-string bale. My bag-style hay bag. My beloved Griffin-brand saddle bags.
And of course, Farley was still there. She counts as a favorite thing that survived right?
I may have fumbled so many things this weekend but Farley did not. Her memory for endurance seems to have survived better than mine (Duuuuuude….vet school really wrecked my brain). The moment she stepped out of the trailer into ride camp, she was the consummate professional.
How did it feel to release Farley out on the trail after 6 years? Like letting a genie out of a bottle.
When I look back objectively I think I was sorta expecting that when she didn’t want to go on conditioning rides any more and thus self-retired herself from endurance, that I would end up with a plod-along little retirement trail pony.
It turns out we had a miscommunication.
She still wants her endurance job. She has no interest in being a plod along pony and trying to make that happened for the last five years is a round peg into a square hole situation that’s just pissing both of us off.
This weekend I may have found the solution to the dilemma. Let her do intro rides and ride and ties. Do enough of these and maybe she can even do an LD.
Yes, it’s an expensive way for Farley to get miles. There was a time I would have rolled my eyes at the thought that I would be shelling out $100+ to send my retired 100 mile horse down the trail for mileage I could do in my back yard.
Hear me out.
Farley hasn’t looked this happy in years.
Was that worth $100?
Absolutely, unequivocally yes.
Is it really so unreasonable to let her go play a couple times a year for $100 bucks if that is what she really wants? She maybe has five more years. In addition to her grey hairs, this is also the first winter she lost a bit of weight. I promised her a forever retirement for as long as she had a reasonable quality of life. Many horses her age are on extra feed and supplements that total well over $100 per month. I wouldn’t blink at a $200 blanket if she needed one this winter. If what a girl wants is a working retirement doing what she loves….and all it takes is writing a check for $100 a couple of times a year and waving a friend down the trail (“Keep it down to a dull roar! Have fun!”)…that seems like an incredibly good deal.
Congrats to Maya and Farley for their first intro ride completion. Next up, Ride and Tie!