You know what’s stupid? Breeding. Ok, it’s not stupid, I love it a lot, but if you’re into instant or at least somewhat short-term gratification, this is 1000% not the way to get it.
I picked the stallion and mare in 2015. Five years ago. We are five years into this and I haven’t even ridden the resulting offspring yet. And the worrying… my god. It starts before the horse is even born. What if something happens and the mare aborts? What if the foal is stillborn? What if something goes wrong during delivery and both the foal and the mare die? What if it has 4 eyeballs and 3 legs? What if it tries to die constantly for it’s entire life, because it’s a horse and that’s what horses do?
Not that I, uh… over-imagined any of those scenarios plus like 500 others or anything.
And for the record, one of my nightmares did actually come true so now my neurosis is justified forever and ever.
But when they’re foals it’s all pretty fun (okay, when they’re not trying to die it’s fun) because they’re cute and fluffy and everything in the world is exciting to them. It’s literally a new horse, but in the cutest possible form. You are delighted to have successfully created said new horse, and you’re thinking “Ha! SUCCESS! I did it!”.
And then they’re weaned and you’re like well, ok… now what.
They get ugly, and then less ugly, and then reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal ugly, and then less ugly, and then dumb, and then less dumb, and then re-dumb. They grow, and they change, and they learn, and then forget, and then learn again, and then grow and change some more. Sometimes you stand there looking at them like:
And then other times you see a glimpse of the horse they hopefully will become someday, and that changes to:
If there’s one thing you learn really quickly about babies that you’re raising for yourself, it’s that you have to take the best of what you see, and learn how to burn the rest from your memory. It’s a long long long long wait, and you’ll drive yourself crazy if you overanalyze them on the regular. It’s like looking at a 10yo kid and trying to guess what kind of 35yo they’ll become.
And so it goes for those first couple years, staring at varying versions of an ugly yak-creature that you’re pretty sure is a horse, at least biologically, until basically they’re 3 or 4 and ready to start their real life. And that stretch between 2.5yo and 3yo? It’s approximately 1,008 months.
For real, while the entire first few years are slow AF, this particular stretch of time could not be more torturous. The horse is big and grown up enough to look like a real horse, but… it’s not a real horse. If I didn’t have Henry as a distraction I don’t know what I would do.
Originally I had wanted to put a handful of very easy rides on Presto around the 2.5 mark, but a particularly awkward growth spurt put the kibosh on that. If he can’t even figure out how to canter on the same lead in the front and the back, there isn’t much use in asking him to figure out how to carry a rider. Now, knock on wood, the balance seems to have magically re-appeared again. All the sudden one day I looked up and his lovely gallop was back, and I found myself staring at him starry-eyed as I have so many times in the last 3 years. Imagining what that will feel like to ride. Picturing him storming around his first cross country, the thing I literally created him to do (FIVE YEARS AGO). More and more, day by day, bit by bit… I can see it in him. He’s almost a real horse.
We are now officially about a month from Presto’s 3yo birthday. It’s shaping up to be a wet month, and I don’t have anyone around or in town to come help me with his first few rides, so we’re just waiting. What’s another few months at this point, when it’s already been five years in the making? And then consider that he’s definitely over a year, maybe year and a half away from actually going to his first event… those first rides are the culmination of one part, but also just the beginning of a whole new even longer process. Which is almost depressing when you think you’re finally at the end of what has already been a long process.
So here we find ourselves, on the home stretch of this particular part of the journey. Hopefully. Maybe. It’s a really really long home stretch, that’s for sure. I for one CANNOT WAIT. It’s been a long
84 3 years. And hey, if the eventing thing doesn’t work out, Presto can always join the circus. More about that tomorrow…