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.