I ended the lease with Midnight.
I was torn because as I've mentioned, I LOVE this barn. No drama, lots of fun events and trails on-site, and a great group of laid-back, friendly people. They even have tack swaps and a book club for goodness sakes. But I just was not having fun riding Midnight, and his terrible ground manners were adding stress to my life. It took a pit crew just to medicate his scratches, and if no one was there, I did my best but wore a helmet juuust in case. And riding--he is an athletic horse who can do anything, and I did learn a lot, but he was just not the quiet dressage horse I was hoping for. And I do think he needs a better rider than I am when he's jumping, since he's green and I am out of practice. I knew that going in, but I think I underestimated how green he was, and what interesting evasions he could think up...
Due to work/winter/excuses, I've mostly been just riding on weekends, after all the "chores" are done (writing HN articles, doing dishes, laundry, whatever). Of course that means no one is there to socialize, and it was just me spiraling in and out and doing transitions, not really having all that much fun. There were times when Midnight would just annoy me so much grooming (he doesn't tie) that I would just leave because I knew I was too frustrated to ride.
It came down to: would I rather do chores, or go ride? When the answer is chores, something is wrong.
His owner was completely sweet and understanding about the whole thing, though I had myself worked up into a nervous tizzy because I was specifically putting the conversation off until after the holidays. It felt like I was breaking up with someone, and after I called her I was just emotionally drained even though she took it well. I drank box wine. I watched The Life Aquatic (Wes Anderson is my go-to movie guy when I am sad) and laid around with the cats. Really though I just needed to sleep on it and I felt like a weight was lifted off me.
We are remaining friends though and others at the barn are gunning for me to stay. More on that later when I run down options for other horses to lease. I considered just taking a hiatus from riding to save money and do wedding planning but Byron said HELL TO THE NO, that I needed my hobby. Considering that wedding planning is stupid, I didn't need much convincing.
So here is my new wish list for a horse to lease:
- able to foxhunt a handful of times a year: If I do end up leaving the barn where I am now, foxhunting has that built-in social atmosphere. Plus I have been itching to go again ever since I hill topped in October.
- Good loader
- Stands tied
- transportation available to hunt or do little fun shows, hunter paces, etc
- steady-eddy, willing temperament
- not too old, not too young
- safe enough (and owner willing) to let Byron ride occasionally, after he takes lessons this summer. Surprisingly he is actually excited to learn…or maybe not so surprisingly since he saw what fun I had foxhunting :)
- Same price that I was paying for a 2-3 day/week lease. Cheaper is good too of course.
This time around I no longer care if it is a gelding or mare, since I learned that geldings can be temperamental too if they are gelded late. Don't care about the color either, though if I found a good gray it would be icing on the cake! Temperament and transportation are my two new priorities. Dressage and eventing--whatever. I just want to get my confidence back, do fun stuff, and start to be excited to ride again.
And #1 lesson learned? Take the time to find the right fit!