Lately, I've been missing horses. A lot. I'm not riding currently and I miss it. I'm also not volunteering at Little Bit Therapuetic Riding Center in classes right now so I don't even get to groom! My friends who have horses either live farther than I really want to drive, or they keep them at the old barn where I am persona non grata. I never really made the kind of friends at the new barn that you can call and say, "hey, I really miss horses, can I come and lean on yours for awhile?"
This has led me to spending a great deal of time on the internet, looking at sales ads and thinking about what I'm looking for in my next equine partner. Not that I'll be getting one for quite some time. Sadly, we're at LEAST a year out from that idea. My husband has agreed that I can start riding lessons again as soon as I'm feeling physically fit but he worries about me meeting time committments with both the horse and the baby at first. Which is a fair concern but not one I like to admit to. I will confess to you, Internet, that this is concern of mine as well. I want to be responsible horse owner and I can't afford to have someone work my horse multiple days a week so I need to be in a position to do so. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. In the meantime, I've been thinking and imagining my "perfect" horse.
No, not perfect in the sense of never misbehaves; but perfect in the sense of ideally suited to me. This becomes a far more interesting problem when I realize I'm not even sure what my life will be like in a year. I have no idea what kind of free time I'll have or be able to create for myself. I do know that I will want horses in my life.
I've had so many well-meaning people tell me to just give it up, that I won't be able to ride while my child is young, or even get back to riding at all! It seems like everyone knows someone who had a baby and disappeared forever from the equine world. I don't see that happening in my case. If my love of horses and my desire to ride has survived discovering boys and going to college and getting married and having a job; then I simply don't see this aspect of my life disappearing. I may make a decision to only ride once or twice a week in lessons for awhile for everyone's sanity but I do think I'll own a horse again. My non-horsey friends don't understand the appeal and just nod and say "oh, but wait until the baby comes, then you'll feel differently." My horsey friends also just nod and say "oh, but wait until the baby comes, then you'll feel differently." This happens until I want to scream!
But then I take a deep breath and go to my happy place-a cosy stall on a crisp fall afternoon with a happy horse eating hay-and I remember that I get to choose how to spend my free time. Which only leads me back again to considering my next horse.
Next time I would like a horse who is not as spooky. I don't like spooking in general, but legitimately scary things (not, for example, a shadow) happen in the world and I accept that. I would like a horse who just needs to look at something for a moment and then can continue on. I want a horse who is physically up to the work of lower-level dressage. I would like a horse that has a higher level of training than I do (given that I was just about up to first level work this doesn't seem unobtainable on my budget). Oh, and I'd like a horse that I can afford to keep. Something with good, strong feet who stands politely for the farrier. A horse that is great for the vet and enjoys the grooming process. I'd like smooth gaits that are easy for me to sit. I want a horse that enjoys his/her job. And I want a horse that likes spending time with me.
Oh yes, and I want it all within my budget!
But, in the meantime, I'll settle for books and magazines and the internet. And, next spring, an understanding trainer with solid school horses.