With my “lease” on Sunny coming to a close (and not a moment too soon considering he needs at least a good once-over from a professional or two) and my trainer making a very random comment* after one of my lessons two-weeks ago, I was feeling like I may be rapidly heading towards a near future with little to no riding.
*I am very much overreacting about my trainer’s comment but it did put me into overthinking mode where I was imagining many crazy scenarios. She asked me one night after my lesson if another city was closer to where I live. I surmised it was probably about 45-50min from me and her barn is an hour to an hour and 15min away. Then she responded, “hmmm, just curious” and didn’t elaborate. So of course I internally panicked and imagined that she wasn’t going to be able to give me lessons anymore. I mean, I guess I would be happy to entertain a recommendation of a trainer closer to where I live but they would have to be really, really good to make me want to switch barns of my own volition. Maybe she was thinking about a dressage barn for me since she really does run an eventing barn and I haven’t expressed a ton of interest in jumping. I am not sure. It’s probably nothing.
Then, this past Thursday rolled around and I received a very exciting email about leasing Charlie. That night, my friend invited me out to play with her haffie cross at the local dressage barn (I don’t take lessons here because there are no “school horses”) As we were exercising her pony, Duke, the local dressage trainer came in to ride. She used to give me lessons on Sunny but we parted ways when the bucking became too much of an issue to actually have a lesson. She said hi and asked how I was doing and if I was still riding Sunny. I said that “riding” was probably a strong word but, yes, I was. Then with the possible new lease in mind, I decided to plant the seed that I may be looking for some lessons again if the thing with Charlie worked out.
Saturday I connected with Charlie’s owner and we planned to meet at the barn so I could ride Charlie. It went great! She is a show jumper so she only had her close-contact saddle for me to ride him in. I’m sure I looked ridiculous trying to find my balance in a new saddle, on a new horse but Charlie was a gentleman and took good care of me. She has had him for most of his riding life- since they imported him from Denmark at 6 years old. He is 15 years old, 17hh, has jumped 5’, no vices, great on hacks, and barefoot. Plus, his show name is Woodford Reserve so yeah…bourbon. Awesome. Naturally, I thought that was a sign.
She has never leased him out before and no one else has ever ridden him besides her trainer so I felt very much on trial too, but she was very cool. Gave me a lot of tips about some of his quirks and how he rides. His feet were long, and he is definitely out of shape and pudgy but he was nicely forward and nothing was a fight.
She isn’t looking for anything drastic, just for him to get in better shape. I am looking for a horse I can be excited to ride again. I told her that I don’t require that he produce a huge amount of collection or that he be able to produce upper level movements or anything, just that he is game to work, and try some of that stuff eventually.
She said it looked like I fit him very well and she thought he seemed very happy as we were going- which was great to hear. I urged her to be very honest about that part so it would be a good fit for everyone. He has just as much right to not be able to cope with my current level of riding- and since I can’t change that fast enough- it would not be worth pursuing if this was an issue at all. But we had no trouble on this first ride.
I read her as being super flexible on the “terms” of the lease, which is awesome. I am willing to be flexible on my end by accepting a month-to-month agreement with the understanding that she is likely going to keep looking for a full-leaser.
At this point, the only thing I am worried about is having to adjust to riding in a jump saddle (stop laughing!!). I do own a VERY ancient County Competitor dressage saddle but it is a medium-medium wide and I am just not sure it fits him and I’m also fairly sure it needs to be re-flocked and I don’t even know if it is worth it. We agreed to meet again when Charlie gets his feet trimmed on Feb 17th, and finalize the lease.
Meanwhile, I get home Saturday evening to an email from the dressage trainer saying that she spoke with the owner of the Lusitano gelding, Tyco, she was riding the other night and the owner is looking to partial lease him and she would recommend me. He has had some good dressage training and everyone at that barn thinks he is “the man”.
Gah!!!!! Why does it always have to be all or nothing?!
I am aware that this is actually a great place to be in: two fun leases to choose from that are both no more than a 15min drive from work/home. I sorta want my cake and to eat it too. I feel too far into the lease with Charlie to just completely back out now unless something became obviously wrong during my first month leasing.
I think I am going to tell the dressage trainer that I am going to lease Charlie and I won’t have time for two leases. But, I will be sure to tell her that the lease with Charlie is going to be month-to-month and I’m not sure how long it is going to last. I’ll ask her if it would be ok to contact her again down the road if the lease ends and see if Tyco’s owner is still looking for a leaser.
What would you do? Lease the horse you’ve tried and like but that isn’t exactly in your discipline? Or pursue the horse that would fit right in your wheelhouse, even though the timing is crap and would make you feel like a jerk to Charlie’s owner now? Would you go try the other horse at least, before you finalize a lease?
On a positive note, once I figure all this out, my posts will become far less “help me answer confusing questions” and will transition more to “look at the cool stuff my new friend and I are doing”- so hang in there with me! And thanks for the fabulous advice along the way!!