The chronicles of a Friesian mare who happened upon an owner who lives outside the show ring....

Friday, October 31, 2014

Perspective and a cart

So I've doing alot of thinking this week, trying to break down my feelings about Daatje and figure out where exactly is the happy place with this horse that I've devoted the past 13 years of my life to raising, training, caring for.

The first 4 years were frustrating.  I loved her dearly then, as now, but I wanted a horse that I could ride that instant.  I didn't want to wait for her to grow up.  I couldn't have two, she was my one, so I waited.  I raised the horse she is today.  A solid citizen, a pleasure to handle, a good mind.  Worth the wait for certain.

The next 4 years were frustrating.  She was ever so difficult to train under saddle.  The hardest I have ever sat on.  Teaching her to be ridden forward was like slogging through knee deep molassess.  But, I learned a TON and we acheived proficiency in 1st level dressage, which is something to be said for a horse who began life with the work ethic of a sloth. :P  Also worth the wait. 

The most recent 5 years have been more pleasant for certain.  She understands her job and performs it to the best of her ability.  She is a mare and she is a Friesian.  Two strikes against her right out of the box.  (three strikes if you count being an orphan) To look back and review what we have accomplished should be encouraging and inspiring.

So why do I feel so much angst?  Why am I not content?  Human nature sucks.  It really does.  I'm competitive.  I want things.  I want to jump higher, go faster, longer, get better scores, at higher levels......but why?  For what?  To what end?  Do I really want these things?  And do I really want them more than enjoying the bond I have spend 13 years nurturing?

The answer to that question is no.  Not really, not at all.  Sure, they'd be nice.  It'd be nice to show off to all the hunt peeps how daring and able I am on a horse equally so.  It would be nice to "fit in" with that crowd.  But that truly is not as appealing to me as the soul connection I have with my mare.  The connection we have is rare.  Something to be cherished.  Something that transcends desire for competition or acts of daring.

I've loved her for 13 years.  We've only been hunting for 6 of those years.  Daatje trumps hunting.  Period.  If she could no longer hunt, for whatever reason, I would keep her and find something else for us to do.  Reality is that simple.

So lately my mind has been wandering to activities we might pursue as she gets older.  One that I love, that she was bred for, but we've not yet mastered, is driving in harness.

I started her in the lines when she was 4.  She's pulled me on a drag in a sand ring and was hitched to a borrowed road cart once.  All taken in style, like a fish to water.  I do not believe it would take much effort to get her driving with confidence.  What a fun adventure that would be!

So I've begun the search for a suitable training vehicle.  I found one locally for sale, that I'm going to look at this weekend.  It's a lovely blue road cart that has cosmetically seen better days, but is reportedly sound for work.  A Friesian mare about Daatje's size pulled it, so it should be a good fit.

  The sellers are retiring down south and selling everything.  Price is definitely right!  I will keep you posted as I'm very excited about this new activity that we could enjoy together.  Something Daatje can do, even as she ages.  Something my husband and I can do with Daatje together!

We're foxhunting in Rochester tomorrow.  It's supposed to be 40°F and raining, so perfect weather for my black pearl.  It's the Halloween hunt, and costumes are encouraged.  We're going to use our Zorro costume, although my husband says it looks more like Wesley from the Princess Bride.  Lol. :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fall is finally in full swing and another case of the OTTB's.

Maples in full color at Prodigue Farm, Rochester NH
It's been an incredibly warm fall season this year.  Here we are, the end of freakin' October and it's just now turning seasonably cool.

The warm weather has made hunting my horse these past few weeks a wicked drag.  For both of us.  I don't blame her.  I never blame her, she can't help being a Friesian, but the last hunt we came home from had me thinking again "why the heck do I do this with this horse", which is never a good place for me to be.

It's been warm and humid.  Warm and humid means the heavy coated, thick skined, deep veined Friesian horse can't cool down.  Which means after the first few runs we must back off the galloping (from first to second and even joining the hilltoppers on occasion!) and slow down.

Yay.  I work my ass off, get up early on the weekends, spend gobs of money on gas getting to the hunts and time out of my busy schedule so I can what,  gallop for a few minutes and spend the rest of the time watching everyone else galloping and jumping and having a blast?  Yeah, not cool.  It's started another case of the OTTB's.

They're everywhere.  CANTER, Finger Lakes Finest.....and in the hunt field.  They're fast, capable, did I mention fast?  The finish a hunt as fresh as they start, barely breaking a sweat.  It's a dangerous place for me to go, in my head, when I start wishing I had one of those instead of a Friesian.  I don't like it there.  I love Daatje, dearly, but sometimes it is painfully evident that what I try to do with her is only half as enjoyable as it would be on a more suitable horse.

The past few hunts have been those sometimes.

I don't like "dumbing down" my expecations.  I don't like feeling held back by my mount.  Sigh.  I always will, for as long as she lives, feel held back by her breed and the limitations that come with it.

Daatje loves to hunt, but I feel her frustration level rise too, when her body is done but her mind wants to keep going.  I even sense her anticipation of the discomfort she experiences on the more humid hunting days.

Sorry for the dump of Debbie-downer-ness, but I had to get that off my chest.

Tribulations of riding a Friesian aside, we have had some really nice photos taken of us lately, thanks to the kindness of Eric Schneider. :)

Mmmm, cider.

A beautiful photo from last Saturday's hunt at Prodigue Farm, Rochester, NH
Only two more Saturday hunts before the BIG ONE, the All NE Joint Meet!  Hard to believe how the time has flown by this year. 

I promise to make every effort to stave off the case of the OTTB's, keep the expectations down to Daatje's comfort level and just try to have a good time out with my horse.  Jealousy be damned, if I keep this up I'll go mad, or try to sell her again, which will also make me go mad.

Where'd I put my flask again?  I could use a swig or ten......