It’s been 2 weeks since Smitty returned to Florida and started a new chapter in his life. Since then, I’ve lost no time in returning to the search for the perfect horse, and sat on 7 different prospects of all different descriptions. Each one I have compared and contrasted to my experiences with the horses of my recent past- Smitty, Riley, Darcy, and of course, Foster. ❤
When I purchased Smitty, I knew I was taking a risk. The obvious being that I didn’t know actually how he would ride, though I a few things I was quite certain about. The spur marks on his sides indicated that he was a kick ride (though we quickly got that sorted out!) and that he had been ramped up into work pretty quickly- in other words, the horse in the video wasn’t the product of a year’s worth of regular training, but more like some months. Because of the draw reins in the sales video, I knew that there may be some re-training to contact and reaching for the bit (also something we fixed). But overall, I saw a great prospect, at a great price, and knew that despite the risks, he was worth snapping up.
I don’t regret buying Smitty, though it wasn’t a good fit in the long term. He tested my abilities in ways that other horses hadn’t, and allowed me to prove to myself that some of my doubts, at least, were unfounded. For instance, when he first came to North Carolina, Smitty did not cross-tie well. Standing is hard for babies, and especially tall lanky babies who can reach everything and are enormously smart. I had someone comment to me that I should just tack him up in a stall, and not press the issue. But I believe that cross-tying is a basic skill that could and should be expected of any sport horse, and so I let him dance, and told him off when I needed him to stand still for tack and getting his feet picked up. Eventually he learned to stand, and for the most part, learned to be patient and [mostly] quiet while I went about my business in the barn.
Smitty taught me that there is still an ounce of bravery in me, even though it needs a good pep-talk to come out these days. The day we went cross country schooling will always be a favorite memory with him, as well as the undoubtedly hilarious attempt at the Green as Grass showjumping course at CHP. Those are thoughts that will always make me smile to remember.
But Smitty also taught me what I’m not willing to live with, or rather, where I need to draw the line. I need to draw the line where goals just aren’t financially responsible, or even possible. I need to draw the line at a point where I acknowledge that I need professional help, and understand that help may be getting saddle time instead of me, despite my wants and wishes. And he taught me to draw the line at a point where it made more sense to find him a better fit, someone who can provide the guidance and assertiveness that I, as a non-professional, could not dedicate to him just now.
There are plenty of silver linings in the mix, however. Thanks to Smitty I found a wonderful barn with a community of ladies that I appreciate more with every visit. I learned things through watching the training rides that I wouldn’t have otherwise learned from the saddle. I now understand the expectations of how to start a young horse in dressage with the aims of competing at the upper levels. I enjoyed seeing him progress and learn how to be a better equine citizen during his time with me. And I’m proud of where he ended up, even if it isn’t with me.