I’m certainly one of those people that if presented with a problem that requires waiting (not patience because I have none lol), I have to have a gazillion different plans of action should the problem begin to resolve itself in a certain way. Then, I proceed to go back and forth between all gazillion options, and I change my mind every day – sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. I know it’s hard for the people around me to keep up with me sometimes when I do things like that – hell it’s hard for me to keep up with me haha. For Amber, should her stifle have gone wrong, I came up with so many things I could do should it not work out. As it turns out, her stifle ended up not being the problem. Looking at things a little more closely, it looks like her stifle healed phenomenally – it’s just the laminitis that got to her. So now, I’m back to all of my previous options and oscillating back and forth. This is mostly just for me since it’s a good way to sort through my thoughts and actually get them down on paper. Or virtual paper as it will. It will also keep me a little steadier in the months to come I think – even if I want to change my mind it’ll help me stay settled on my ultimate decision.
First off, I’ll take you through the (most plausible) options I had settled on:
I could breed Amber. This of course, is a definite “no” now. There’s much to think about with this one, not only because Amber is laminitic – although now of course that’s a huge part of it. Because I’m breeding this horse, I also completely understand that I may not be able to keep it forever and always because sometimes life happens. So I have to make sure the horse is also marketable should I have to sell it. Vet bills for pregnancies are no joke either, plus knowing Amber and her injury-prone self, she’ll find some way to cause me grief her whole pregnancy. Pretty sure I can’t handle 11 months of that LOL. Knowing her she’ll also pass on her injury-prone-ness to her foal LOL. There’s also just a LOT of potential for things to go wrong just in pregnancy and birth. Plus, I’m not delusional enough to think I’ll “get another Amber” should I breed her. There of course will never be another Amber, and truthfully, I don’t want another one. She is one of a kind. It may be vain, but I do also worry about people talking about the foal as being “backyard bred” even if I did breed Amber to a nice TB since appendix QHs are marketable. As for care, there are really no good areas for me to put Amber, and should she even be able to have a foal, I would want her in a big pasture with other foaling mares so the foal can grow up and be social. I think that’s an integral part of a foal’s growth and I want to give it as best a start in life as I can. A foal is a lot of responsibility, one I don’t take lightly, so there’s much about this option that isn’t feasible for me at the present. But, the laminitis really shuts this decision down, though to be honest I really don’t think I would have ever gone this route no matter what happened.
So. What next? Well, I could lease a horse. This one is still in the air. It’s certainly an option and I’m still tossing it around in my head. I’m still a bit hesitant on this one tho, mostly because I won’t own the horse. Based on my past experiences this hasn’t always been the best thing, but there are just as many (and many more!) good leases too, so it all depends on what I find or happens down the road. Of course knowing my luck I’ll end up with a lease and the lease horse will teach me a whole bunch and we’ll be absolutely great together lol. At the moment though, I’m just probably still hesitant to go this route because I’m sad that Amber and I can no longer go on adventures, and I’m mourning the loss of our riding connection. It’s really hard to be open to something else – especially when it’s not mine – when Amber and I have such a good relationship. This for sure isn’t an option I’m discarding for those reasons, but because I need to sort a lot out with Amber, but I just don’t know if it is completely feasible for me to lease at the moment.
Which leads to I could buy a horse. This is the one that’s the 2nd most solid of my options. I know eventually, even if I lease, I will want another horse. I actually preferably would like to find one before I have to let Amber go. Whisper really helped my mom with her grief when she had to put down her previous horse, and I’m thinking I’ll be the same way. Plus needing to care for the horse will get me out to the barn even if I don’t want to, because time spent with horses is the best time. I won’t lie but I am really dreading the whole “let’s find a horse” process since my mom did most of the looking before we bought Whisper and Amber just kinda fell into my lap haha. So I’m….very very green at this lol. I’m not in a rush to buy a horse though because it’s also not quite feasible for me to purchase a horse right now. It’s even harder because there really aren’t any eventing prospect horses around the Vegas area. I considered buying another horse from the same program Amber came from (you know, school support and all that plus I know what care/training they get and know the types of horses), but I’ve since realized that if I’m buying a horse that I want to event on, I have to be able to ride them to try them (you can’t at LOR). I also have to know they like jumping and they enjoyed even the smallest of cross country schools. It’d be a project horse, not requiring a lot of jumping experience since I’m confident in myself and especially the pros around me to help me muddle through haha. Plus, after all the hard work I’ve done with Amber and bringing her up myself, I know that teaching a horse myself really helps to build a connection and relationship with the animal, and I really want another partnership.
My last option, which is the option I have decided right now to do, is to catch ride and lesson on as many different horses as I can. With Amber, I knew her inside and out, and I didn’t have any fears jumping her or taking her cross country or doing whatever it was with her. But now that a new horse is in my future, I need to start developing a feel for what type of ride I’d like. I’ve been excited about jumping and I’ve been excited about dressage – now I need to see if I can get out there on cross country and see if I’m excited about that (I really don’t doubt I will be, but I’m nothing if not a pretty practical person haha). I need to see if I really, truly want to event. Amber was easy – we’d done so many things in the past that if we evented for a bit and it wasn’t hers or my thing, then we’d pop over to something else. But I may be looking for a horse specifically for eventing, so I have to make sure that this is a discipline I really want to do. Again, pretty sure I do, because even though I have yet to do some of the things, I am still as hungrily following it now as I was when I first discovered it in 2016. But who the hell knows I may be frozen come cross country haha! But by riding so many different horses, I can hopefully start feeling what kind of ride I’d like and what type of horse and how their gaits feel. I cannot ride bouncy horses AT ALL, so I’d like to know the bounce limit I can ride. Jumping and cross country is the best and, well, most important part about eventing, so I need to make sure what personality and traits and aspects about a horse I like that I’d be confident to go cross country.
Lesson pony Liam actually helped me with this. Since I was a very timid rider growing up, I always thought I wanted a “push” horse instead of a “whoa” horse, but he made me really miss Amber when I’d ride him. He only stopped on me once, and even then he still crawled over the fence, but he never quite gave me the feeling of taking me to the jumps. Despite Amber’s and my greenness and the fact that I didn’t start her right, she felt like she was taking me to the crossrails. Perhaps it wasn’t exactly how it’s supposed to feel, but it was enough of a difference that I noticed. Because when I’d tell her to go, she’d always ask me “how fast?” and stay there until I told her otherwise. Liam would go for a few strides, then slow back down. I’ve just started to realize that riding reiners has made me much less of a “push” horse person, and more of “whoa” person. So now to figure out how much go for the horse haha. While they’ve all been QHs, I’ve worked with a fair number of “go” horses (every single Gunnatrashya offspring has their bolting phase), but all of these traits may mean I end up with a TB. Which, TBs are WAY different from QHs, sooooo it’s a toss-up haha. But I don’t know! It’s a lot of information, but I’m happy with trying to figure out all the angles. It also helps that many horse sale ads I’ve found have been in WA, and I have a great eventer friend who knows TBs (and just horses in general) inside and out and is willing to help me out should I head on up there to look. So I want to lesson on TBs and more athletic QHs (meaning less fat LOL) and maybe even a warmblood because why the hell not?! Let’s do it! I do admit that I sorta miss having 6-8 horses to ride a day. They were all so different in their own right, but all such nice horses and I learned SO MUCH from all of them. That is one of the reasons I do want to catch ride. I learn best when challenged with a few things at once, and riding different horses I feel will really help me out. Who knows? I may even be lessoning for a year or two before I find my next partner, and I feel right now that I’m not in a rush for that like I usually would be (this may change tomorrow. I may want to just get it over with NOW haha!)
Coincidentally, I was able to (finally!!) schedule another lesson with Trainer G. I feel bad – I went dark for so long she lost my number LOL! She’s coincidentally at a new place with a new lesson horse – QH Rocky – and I know nothing about him but I’m excited for another lesson. She’s still close to an old cross country field I believe, so I’m going to try getting in my very first cross country outing with her with Rocky here in the future. There’s also a dressage trainer I really like who I will hopefully start lessoning with soon (just gotta make sure timing and everything works out) and there’s an h/j barn really close to me – like 15 minutes away. They have some lesson horses too, and since I am hoping to ride a variety of horses, I’ve been looking into lessoning with them as well. Plus, this will give me more jumping/dressage experience that I can carry forward to my next ride – be it a lease horse or I buy one.
As sad as I am that the chapter of Amber and I riding and competing together has ended, I’m pretty excited for this next chapter. Even though I can’t ride her anymore, I am so relieved that I FINALLY know what’s wrong with Amber and why she’s been upset. I can now move forward with a treatment plan for her to keep her comfortable, and start forming a plan for me to move forward as well. I feel as if I’ve been a bit stuck in a stasis, as I was from fall of 2015 to 2016, and the waiting has certainly taken it’s toll on me. But I am excited to get back into it.
Ugh, I’m sorry. The whole situation is just awful and I know you’ll do what’s best for Amber.
Buuuuuttttt (and this may not be the most popular opinion), I also think you need to do what’s right for you. Horses aren’t your average house pet. They live for decades and are incredibly expensive. So much so, that unless you have huge pastures at your disposal, most of us are limited to owning one at a time.
I hope you find the best solution so you can continue riding!
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Thanks KC! I do appreciate your opinion, and I do agree with you. Because they are expensive, and I don’t have pastures, and I know I can’t own 2 at one time, a new horse won’t be for a while. Plus, I haven’t wanted to say this out loud really, but I honestly think I’ll have to let Amber go within the next year or so. It’s the only reason I’m considering a new horse/lease so quickly – I don’t think I’ll have much time left with Amber. I’m gutted that I can’t ride her, but I know that lessoning is going to be what I need for right now. It’s a tough balance, wanting what’s best for our horse but also needing to take care of ourselves as well. I am relieved at Amber’s diagnosis and feel guilty for it because I feel selfish for now deciding to carry on with what I need and what I’d like to do. It’s a battle for me, and some days are better than others. Also, as much as I’m deciding what my plan will be, this IS horses and life, and we know that so many times plans can go awry. So while I have a “plan” I’m also open to opportunities and things that may or may not happen. Thanks KC ❤
I think that you will def need something else to ride. JUST THINK OF ALL THE TACK AND SHOW CLOTHES 🙂 If you can manage to have Whisper and Amber at home and then possibly lease or take lessons then do that.Don’t put off a lease. That is how i got Remus (Free lease I pay his expenses). There are so many horses out there that might surprise you. Tell your trainers and others and keep an ear out, the right horse might fall into your lap. I am so sorry about Amber but know you have her best intentions no matter what. Hopefully you can keep her comfy and happy for many more years!!
Haha I’ve certainly been thinking of the new show clothes and all the things! lol Not really tack since I adore my saddles, but maybe I will need another one in the future haha. I kept thinking of you and Remus as I wrote about leases! Trainer G immediately was like “we need to look for a lease horse for you!” when I told her about Amber haha! I trust her a lot so I’m gonna tell her to keep an eye out for me lol. I just have had unpleasant dealings with lease people in the past, so that’s part of where it comes from! But I’m certainly still open to them!
I agree with KC Scott, it is an ugly situation. My first horse navicular put him in the pasture for several years. Yes, expensive. But so worth it when he heard me call him. I leased my second horse for a few months until the ditzy owner could decide what she was going to do with him. I bought him and he was my equine partner for over 20 years. He’s been gone for three years now and I’m riding a variety of horses now–which, yes, makes me a better rider. I still miss my own horse but don’t miss the bills, the worry when I travel. Anyway, I can solidly recommend leasing–maybe with the expectation to buy, maybe not. Good luck whatever you decide.
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Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing! It’s the hardest thing for me because she WANTS to be out with me and do things and she doesn’t understand why we can’t do things together. Time and the waiting sucks, so as we get more information on Amber’s condition, how severe it is and whatnot, I’ll have a better plan of how to help us both. For now lessons help me keep riding while only having to worry about Amber 😊
I only have hugs for you. I’ve been in a similar place to where you are and it’s horrible. But you have to do what is best for you and her, even if that is the hardest thing to do in the world.
It’s good you have a plan, plans always help me too. There is nothing wrong with being selfish, you have done so much for her and have always had her best interests at heart. You have to do what you need to do for you too.
I miss my mare everyday but having Baby Henry helped me move forward. Nothing wrong with starting to look now though, it can take ages for the right horse to come along! Plus you can work out what you do and don’t want.
Red mares certainly have a way into the heart, and a habit of staying there.
Thank you for the hugs ❤ Thanks so much for your words of encouragement. Having a plan has helped me already start moving forward, and knowing that I do need to follow what I want now. And yes I have been looking through sale ads finding what I like or dislike at the moment and watching a lot of videos. I agree that it can take ages until the right one comes along!
I'm trying to prepare myself for that hard decision when it comes, but I know it will still be horrible when it does. Red mares are certainly special ❤
i’m really sorry that you’re even having to face these choices. there aren’t any easy answers, and it just sucks so so so much that the future you had envisioned with Amber isn’t playing out in reality. of course i hope she heals fantastically and that there are more adventures for you two in the future. realistically tho i totally agree that it’s good to start sorting through these other options now too.
frankly, from my perspective and personal experience, you really don’t have any wrong choices either. taking some time to catch ride and lesson is an excellent way to “try out” more horse types to see what type gets you the most excited. same story with leasing. it’s not everyone’s favorite and there are tons of horror stories out there. and not having fully control can be really tough… but then again it’s also a GREAT way to try something out without being fully on the hook if it doesn’t end up being the right fit. eventually tho, i do hope there’s another horse of your very own in your future eventually 😉
Thanks Emma ❤ It's certainly difficult, especially since I was hoping we'd have more adventures in the future, but my realistic side too figured that it was probably good to get an idea now. I'm not pressed for time, so I can take as long as I need to start assessing things. That is what's drawing me to leases and lessons at the moment – I can really try something without being fully on the hook if it doesn't work out 🙂
I am a lot like you, having every contingency plan in place really helped me sleep at night in 2013 when Carlos and I went through the ringer with his lameness (and subsequent putting down). Sleeping is important for making vital decisions. All your options sound good and just continue to feel them out as you move forward into the future.
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Sleeping is super important to me too. I’m dead without enough lol. Thanks L 😊