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. :)