Thinking about the Future

For me, it’s always seemed like making plans either results in fortune or folly. Usually folly, when it comes to horses. Sometimes things work out (like AEC’s, or the Classic 3-Day) but a lot of times they don’t. Horses don’t know anything about the plans, dreams, or agendas of humans. It’s simultaneously one of the best and worst things about them, IMO. As long as they’re fed and safe, they’re happy. There’s a beautiful simplicity in that, even if sometimes it can make them really frustrating creatures to the humans who laid grander plans upon their backs.

Horses: unimpressed with our bullshit since the dawn of time

Despite having been a multiple-horse owner for the majority of my adult life, Henry has been a one man show for years. My brain is still re-adjusting to having more than one animal to train, consider, take care of, and plan for. And since my budget is pretty tight, it takes a little more thought. I can’t just do All The Things, so stuff has to be prioritized, which requires looking more at the long term big picture. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about what I really WANT to do, and when those things have to be done.

poor kid doesn’t even know what he’s in for

The big unmoveable future thing is really Presto’s 4yo (ie horse show debut) year in 2021. Whether he’s mature enough to start a legit eventing career that year or not, he’ll still be under saddle and he’ll still need to start going to horse shows in some capacity. That’s a really important, must-happen thing. Of course, showing two horses at the same time will be financially pretty damn difficult for me, so it’s likely that either both of them will go to schooling shows, or one of them (ie Henry) won’t get to show. 2021 will be the year of Turning the Baby into a Show Horse.

From there we start working backwards. In his 3yo year (2020) I’d like to send Presto to my cowboy/colt starting guy for 2 months in the spring – the same guy that started his dam. He exposes them to a lot, which I like, and he’s been doing this FOREVER, which I also like, and he’s gotten pretty involved in the english world so he understands what we want from our horses. Of course, he’s expensive, so all of my extra money that spring would go toward that. No recognized shows for Henny.

sadiedan3
3yo Sadie at the cowboy’s

Once Presto comes back from the breaker he’ll really just trail ride or hack out a few times a week during the summer. Of course, it’s too friggin hot here for me to show Henry in the summer, so either Henry isn’t showing or we’d have to go out of state. Unless my financial situation changes or I got pretty lucky, I don’t really see that happening. In the fall of Presto’s 3yo year I’d like to send him for a month or two of dressage training, then bring him home and give him the winter off before his 4yo “first season” starts. Sending him off for more training is more $$$, so let’s go ahead and write off any recognized shows for Henry for the remainder of that year too. 2020 will be the year of Baby Training.

When you look at it that way, that really leaves us with the remainder of 2018 and 2019 for the primary focus to remain on Henry. Just boarding two already puts a pretty significant dent in my show fund for him, but when Presto is actually in training or needing to go to lots of shows himself, the Henry show budget will be almost non-existent. I don’t really know what will happen once they’re both rideable and showable. Selling Henry is not on the docket ever, but would I lease him to someone? Would I just keep him and not show him? Or would I find a way to show them both, albeit very sparingly? I don’t know that part yet. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I’m obsessed with him, he’s mine forever

But thinking about all these things did kind of make me feel like, if I have other things that I really want to accomplish with Henry, now is probably the time to lay it out. To be honest, I never had ideas for us beyond getting to Training level. And that was a huge, far-reaching idea that seemed more like a joke than an actual probability. So we got there, and it’s been great, and I’ve just kinda been like “Ok well here we are, achievement unlocked, ta-da!”.

Image result for boom gif
Henry, every time he crosses the finish line on XC

Figuring out Presto’s grand plan and realizing just how little time I have left with Henry as my sole focus kind of prompted me to think… do I want to try to keep going? Do we ever want to make an attempt at Prelim, or do we just live at Training and have fun? Both are appealing to me in their own way. I didn’t start out ever wanting to do Prelim, to be honest. I feel like that’s the level where things start getting stupid, and more dangerous, and the difference between Training and Prelim is huge. My horse does not have endless scope, or easy speed. He’s Prelim-capable, but it really is nearing the the limit of his natural ability. Then again, we’ve schooled Prelim stuff and done a couple CT’s and both of us think it’s pretty damn fun. And I’d love for Presto to eventually be a 1* horse for me, so it’s obviously not like I’m saying I’ll never consider it. If Henry is sound and happy and fit, is there a real reason to NOT at least try to work towards it and see what happens?

PHPWagon

In my mind there are kind of two Prelims… “Legit Prelim” and “Prelim Lite”. There are a couple venues where I feel like the courses are a lot easier for my particular horse, and the P wouldn’t be that much of a stretch for him from where we are now – Prelim Lite. Other venues have monster courses, less suited to my horse, and I just really don’t have much interest in running them on him ever – Legit Prelim. Prelim Lite seems reasonably doable, with a lot of work. And those venues even have some schooling shows. That would take away the pressure added by spending more money and having the results be on the horse’s USEA record, which in turn makes it sound like a more interesting proposition to me.

Scissortail
who do I have to bribe in Texas to get more schooling shows?

So after texting with Trainer, the plan is to spend the rest of this year cleaning up our showjumping, stretching the comfort zone, and getting more miles. We’ll see where that leads us. If things stack up to where Prelim Lite looks doable at some point in 2019, we’ll give it a go. If not, we’ll keep having fun rocking around Training and that’ll be that. If I can’t step my game up, or if Henry seems stretched beyond his ability, then we’ll stay where we’re at. That horse owes me absolutely nothing, and the most important thing is for me to feel like we’re doing right by him. As long as he’s happy, I’m happy. So we’ll let the horse dictate our future, and see where it takes us. It’ll be a lot of fun, either way.

33 thoughts on “Thinking about the Future

  1. It is so awesome how much Henry has surpassed your initial expectations for him. It just goes to show that they will really and truly tell us what they like and want to do. It’s the most gratifying thing to me when your horse absolutely clicks with the job that you really wanted for him/her. I’m in the same boat as you will be in 2021, now. Coco needs show miles, but I can’t afford to show two (with time AND $). So, most likely, Sterling will need to get leased out later this year so she can go to some schooling shows. Sterling will also never (as long as I am not in a huge financial pickle) get sold. He has far exceeded what I thought he/we would do and I don’t trust anyone else to give him the life he deserves when he’s no longer usable. Adulting stinks sometimes, but it is nice that there are options.

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  2. I really like how well thought out your plans are and how much consideration you put into things, including your horses’ scope and natural abilities and your own financial abilities. Also how much you think about making a well rounded horse. People look at the $900 Facebook title and don’t realize how much thought, good basic care, good training including a lot of lessons, and high end vet care go into making Henny such a great horse. Not to say he is not a gem, but you also put a lot of deliberation into your plans and that helps make him the best Henny he can be.

    Looking forward to Prelim-light and seeing Presto grow up. Really enjoy your blog!

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    1. This comment kind of lends to another post I’ve been working on, about having realistic goals and expectations. I think it’s so key in having happy horses and riders! It’s really important to me to do right by the horses, so I try as best I can to be a “thoughtful” and self aware rider/owner. Sometimes that’s easier said than done!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s amazing how fast things come up and how far ahead horses require we plan. Where simultaneously it’s like, “Okay, in 2021…” but I also don’t know what I’m having for dinner tonight.
    I know you kind of mentioned it – but what about a lease or half-lease on Henry? A college or graduate student, or even someone like me, who isn’t ready to buy, but wants to event? Obviously it has a lot of factors that have to work out, but I’m so grateful to Doc’s owner who makes it possible for me to ride and event when otherwise I’d be stuck just doing some once a week lesson or something.

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    1. Ideally I would love to find him a BN/N packer type of lease situation, because I think he would absolutely shine in that role, but I also know that I would not let him leave my care unless I was 110% confident in the person he was going to. So we’ll see what happens. We have some time yet before we have to start thinking about that, luckily!

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      1. ha ha send him to TN (or wherever we live by then) you know I would take care of him 🙂 HA HA HA

        I agree this is a very well thought out post and I love that Presto has so much happening in the future. 🙂 And love that you worry about Henry too. But I have dibs on him first 🙂 (well I would let Roaming Rider have him first but I am second) 🙂

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  4. I’m like you, my brain would be going a mile a minute about all of this 24/7 if I was in your situation! Are there any horse trials you can get to that offer the rare T/P level? I suppose schooling events or venues with easier P questions would probably be the same thing.

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    1. What I really wish we had was a venue that offered Modified. T/P is fine and all but once you’ve done some CT’s at P, there isn’t much added value in running a T/P. Modified though, that’s a really nice “in between” level that would be great to test the waters and build confidence. Unfortunately no one here offers it yet!

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  5. It’s perfect that you posted this blog today, as I just had this exact conversation with my trainer last night. Biggest difference is that my experienced show horse is a lease, so when baby is ready to start going to training and shows and costing all the monies, I can send him back to his owner. I know my time with him is limited, so I really want to get all that I can out of his experience and age before I have to start showing baby horse the ropes. It’s hard with the budget being stretched with two horses, but I am trying to get out with him as much as possible in the next two years to make sure I’m as ready as I can be for taking the young one out.

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  6. That is a lot to think about, but you are on top of it and both guys will continue to do well in your program. The cool thing, as you mentioned, is that horses don’t really know that you have a schedule in your head. If I was in Texas I’d be harassing you for that packer BN lease on Henny 🙂 I see a lot more modified classes being added around here, so hopefully that makes its way to Texas soon.

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  7. I kind of love thinking about the future. Mildly outlining what I think my next few years of life will look like brought me (and my fiance) to The Year of the Horse, which has been so fun already. And I haven’t even started showing yet.
    I love that you’re thinking about the future of both of your boys. I wonder if the Modified level will gain any traction at events around you; that could be an idea for stepping up but not going Full Prelim!

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  8. I think you have a really great plan set up for the next several years. Which is a pretty impressive feat in itself. I can’t seem to commit to a plan for the next two months…
    I’m not sure about in TX, but schooling shows are getting more and more popular in the northeast. Our governing body hasn’t gotten so ridiculous with fees and everything that people are opting out. Our small one day rated shows are dying off rapidly, but they’re being replaced but schooling shows. And that business is booming! Classes are not only filled, but they often have 20 or more per class. It’s like what the A shows up here used to be. But cheaper. So much cheaper. Hopefully that will work its way down to you in TX and the eventing world.

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    1. We have some schooling h/j circuits, but very few schooling horse trials. One venue has a few per year, and another venue has one per year. Both of those are 2 hours away. Otherwise if you want to get to a schooling HT you’re driving 3-4 hours up to DFW. Really sucks if you’re poor or have a baby you want to get cheap miles for! I’m jealous of the east coast and their abundance of schooling HT’s.

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  9. I follow your blog religiously (and stalk your socials, don’t judge me) because nothing is about you. Nothing in this post said, “I want…” or, “I need…” or, “My goals…” and I so appreciate that frame of mind. It’s so easy for equestrians to get sucked into their own goals and forget that the horse’s abilities and desires should be at the forefront. Horse’s aren’t a tool for us to get to our dreams, they’re a teammate. So, yeah, thank you for thinking this way and putting your kids first. I aspire to keep that in the forefront of my horse goals, always.

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      1. He would probably much prefer Michigan summers, as long as he doesn’t have to go outside when it’s colder than 40 because he’s a huge baby. He grows a winter coat like a freaking Canadian though.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. First let me just say that I love reading your thoughts on this, because it makes me feel less neurotic when I have the same types of thoughts and try to map out plans for my horses haha. I think it is so important to be thoughtful and deliberate in how we approach what we do with our horses.

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  11. I am a two horse kind of girl. Back when I was still endurance racing, a second horse was great for multi-day races and as a back up when someone was injured. Now that I am showing dressage, I still love having two horses. Not that Izzy is really showing, but he’s teaching me a lot, and the plan is to someday do more than Introductory Level dressage on him; he’s getting close. It does make it a lot more expensive to have two, but I have different goals for each one. You’ll figure it out. :0)

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  12. I’m really glad the USEA created the Modified division bc I think there are a lot of horses like Henry out there. The Modified division at The Fork was legit as hell (so was the training for that matter!) and not a lot of people made it through unscathed at the modified level. Could you imagine what would of happened if they had been running Prelim instead??? So hopefully Modified makes its way to Texas soon!!! But at least you have Prelim Lite (which is probably Texas’s version of Modified) to test the waters!!!

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    1. The ones I have in mind that I think of as Prelim Lite’s are still Prelim size, just a little more suited to my particular horse’s strengths. I would LOVE to have Modified, at a slightly lower height. Seriously, would freaking love it. I just can’t find one even within a day’s drive of here, which is a bummer. I hope it gains popularity, especially now with the new FEI levels that are starting next year. We need Modified!

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  13. Every time I start making plans beyond the 2018 season it’s mostly based on either (1) Frankie being immortal and never needing to step down and/or (2) me checking my bank account and seeing many extra thousands of dollars show up there. Your plans seem more realistic.

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  14. While living and riding in another state, I maxed my desired level – done every course they had 3 times, and for reasons didn’t want to go up a level. So I swapped 2 in-state horse trials for 1 out-of-state horse trial. Traveling with friends doing the same thing. It was a blast! 🙂

    If I ever get there again, I’ll probably pick out some super-cool horse trials in various places that I think are a fair one-day drive for the horse, and make the tour of those. Gradually. Probably take years. 😉 Plus some locals, of course.

    And, they have good schooling events in other states, too. 🙂

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    1. I’d love to go out of Area V more, but it’s 12 hours to the next HT’s. We have Louisiana (which I’ve done) and Oklahoma (which is in the summer, so nope) but otherwise you’re either going west to New Mexico or east to TN/KY/GA and driving forevvveerrrr. Colorado would be fun at some point, but not during AEC years. That sounds like too much of a circus. KY Horse Park is on my bucket list, I’d that ever works out, it’s just FAR. Texas is dumb.

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  15. I love your forecasting:) The next couple of years are going to be quite exciting for you. I think someone would probably LOVE to lease Henry to have some fun at the the lower levels, it could be a win-win for everyone if you found the right rider (see: needs a sense of humor).

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  16. Maybe this is sort of a weird things to say, but one of the really cool things about blogging is how different people and horses in different situations still end up at the same place I am. Obviously I’m over-simplifying, but your statement at the end: “As long as he’s happy, I’m happy. So we’ll let the horse dictate our future, and see where it takes us. It’ll be a lot of fun, either way,” is EXACTLY where I’m at with Niko! Which is kind of a cool commonality to me.

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  17. A couple entirely unsolicited comments, LOL! Having brought along baby eventers here and there…there’s no hard fast rule he must do things at 3. In fact, starting him u/s at 4 is great! More time for him to develop and grow strong bones and muscles. I know it’s HARD to wait, but it’s more of a good thing then a bad one to start them in real work a little later. I too set aside $$$$ for training my last youngster and honestly used only a tiny bit of it! I was pleasantly surprised to find my last baby took a little backing from a pro then I was able to take over the ride and install his training (with lessons and weekly training rides from my trainers). It was much cheaper than I’d thought! Lastly, prelim is a rad go and the cool thing with horses is YOU have a lifetime to get there on the right mount at the right time. If it’s Henny, super, if it’s Presto or someone else it’s still a BA accomplishment! Excited to see how it all goes!

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    1. I plan on following a similar timeline that I did with his mother (and have done with all my babies, actually!). I much prefer them to be started at 3, then have some time off, then do some hacking, then have some time off, then do some flatwork, then have some time off. I’ve not been as happy with the ones I’ve had that I’ve waited until 4 to do anything with. I don’t think their minds or bodies adapt as well or as quickly to the work. Of course, if there’s a physical reason to wait, then I would, but otherwise I like for them to go to kindergarten at 3. Just my preference. And if he’s anything like his mother, he will need the mental stimulation. (omg she was so much better once she had a “job”)

      Also I’ve started all of my own horses except his dam, but really think that the cowboy is better at getting them more confident and more exposed to a wide variety of things than I am on my own. He should be, after all, that’s his specialty. 😉 Plus they just have a lot more hours in the day to spend doing everything from trail riding to tieing to loading, which is what they really need. Not enough hours in my day for stuff like that. It’s well worth the money to me, those first couple months are so important! I hope it doesn’t sound like I was complaining about the money, because while it is expensive, I’m 100% happy to pay it.

      I also want him to have a couple months of pro dressage training at the beginning of his education as well, just to give him as good a start as I possibly can. My main goal is to set him up for success, and I have no delusions about the fact that a pro is going to instill the basics better than I can. Luckily this is far from my first young horse, so I’ve had plenty of time to learn along the way what has worked best for me and what hasn’t!

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