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.
Selling Smitty was perhaps one of the smartest horse decisions I’ve seen recently, as hard a decision as it was to make. Realizing that you and Smitty may not have been the best fit, but now knowing that he landed in a truly fantastic home hopefully makes that pill a little easier to swallow. Not to get all mushy, but I think the right horses come into our lives at the right time to teach us what we need to learn at that moment. Even though he was only around for a little while, I definitely think Smitty came along to set you up perfectly for your next horse 🙂
Thank you for that. It’s always a little scary to share these kinds of decisions, not knowing how the rest of the world will judge you. But I’m appreciative of everyone’s response and do feel like everything happens for a reason- maybe Smitty really needed to be with his current person, and I was what he needed to get there. Who knows 🙂
while i’m still really sorry that things didn’t work out the way you had hoped with Smitty – i believe there’s very real value in learning about what you *don’t* want in a horse along with what you *do* want. looking forward to seeing how that newfound knowledge plays out with the next partner!
Definitely!! I’m trying to think a bit differently about the next horse, but more on that next week!
Wow! What great lessons! All fantastic stuff that is going to help you get more out of your pain in the future, plus Smitty got some great experience and training miles. Sounds like a positive, if not ideal, situation.
Passion. Not pain. Lol @ autocorrect. Apparently I need to proofread more.
You synthesized some great lessons from this experience.
Like Austen said- even if it wasn’t the most ideal outcome, sounds like it was overall positive for everyone involved. You came out of it with a happy horse placed in a good home, a rider that has a better idea of what they want, and a blog reader who gets to read more about cute sale ponies. So you know, wins all around.
XD I feel like I’m cornering the market on horse shopping blogs. I’m ready to give it up whenever someone offers!
I think it is good to look back on the positives of the experience (and of course share with us so we *might* not make a similar mistake)