Anyone who has stuck with me since 2018 will be heaving a big sigh and a "not again" eye roll. This is a topic that has come up routinely which probably should have told me something years ago. What can I say...I'm a slow learner.
I do have a lot of thoughts all pinging around in my brain about this, so I warn you this post may end up disjointed and rambling.
First and foremost: I love my Big Orange Doofus. Really, I do. I love the stupid doofusy look on his face every time I come around. I love his can do, lets go attitude. I love his kisses. Seriously, I love this guy. What I don't like is riding him. I haven't liked riding him in a very, very long time, maybe ever. This isn't Eeyore's fault at all. In fact, over the last 3.5 years of having him, he has improved leaps and bounds in his training, abilities and skills. He is 100% not the same horse he was in 2018 in a lot of ways. Unfortunately, in the way that matters the most, he is the exact same.
|Eeyore LOVED the snow we had a couple weeks ago|
I need to back track a little in my thought process here all the way to 2009 bringing home Gemmie. Gem took me places I never thought I'd go. She taught me so so much in the years she has been with me. She is currently happily retired in my pasture where she will live out the rest of her days with nothing more than being polite on the lead line asked of her. She holds a special place. However, Gem was also not fun to ride. Gem was a very solid Type 2 Fun horse (recall Type 2 Fun is fun had after the activity is completed) and sometimes, well frequently in the beginning, was a Type 3 Fun horse (no fun at all even looking back). I spent nearly a decade riding only Gem.
When I was looking for my next partner I had a list of things I knew I didn't want to repeat: take away the spookiness was a major one, enjoy jumping was another, as was actually liking to be around humans, preferably liking me the most. It actually never occurred to me to think about Type 1 Fun (fun had in the moment) and horses because well...I honestly thought maybe I kinda didn't actually like riding horses all that much. Like, I liked the thought of riding horses and I liked having ridden a horse, but I didn't actually like actively riding a horse. Makes a lot of sense, right? Told you I'd be rambling.
|Fun walk down memory lane. This was the best jumper round of my life. Of course it was proceeded by being bucked off in warm up, but we will forget that ok?|
So anway...in comes Eeyore. He checks all my boxes. He comes home and is pretty much immediately a Type 2 Fun horse. Again though I didn't think much of it. I mean, I spent my youth in competitive whitewater slalom and that was always very very much Type 2 Fun for me, so it wasn't anything new to have a hobby/sport I only liked when I had completed the day's activities. I plugged away with Eeyore. When things got bad, I found Trainer AB. When they got worse, I pushed harder with Trainer AB. Then I took a break. Then I came back even harder. Then I gave up.
During this time of figuring out my life, Hamilton came home. I wanted something easier. Something less opinionated. Something quiet. Hamilton was all that and so so so much more. Hamilton it turns out, was Type 1 Fun. Even when he reared because his track pony crossed a creek without him but he didn't want to cross to meet him on the other side. Even when he had a near heart attack seeing cross country jumps. Even when I nearly fell off as my friend raced Eeyore passed us without warning. Even in the "bad" moments...I was still having FUN. Solid, unbelievable Type 1 Fun.
|Hamilton being the safest horse on the planet|
It was possible then. Very very possible to actively enjoy riding while I was doing it. Even when things went wrong. Folks, this is a stupid epiphany to have at nearly 40 years old having owned horses for almost 15 years, but there it was.
Mr. Leonard may have been a rash decision, but he wasn't a pointless one. You see, Hamilton HATES jumping. I can't explain his visceral response to the mere sight of a jump clearly enough. Hamilton is a sloth covered in horse skin. He looks half stoned, barely aware of his surroundings 99.9% of the time. Until he sees a jump. I had set up some jumps in the arena Saturday for Eeyore. Leonard and Hammy were stalled for the trial ride due to pasture use. When I led Hamilton back out he stopped, staring with heart racing at the two tiny verticals set up in the arena below. I have no idea where this comes from. I suspect some serious training could maybe work but I have zero interest in riding another horse towards a jump that they have no interest in going over. I did that with Gem enough. No thanks. I already have that t shirt. But having found a Type 1 Fun horse, I really, really wanted another. Maybe one that wanted to jump. In comes Mr. Leonard who does love to jump and has also been, so far with only a handful of rides in, a solid Type 1 Fun horse.
|One of my favorite Eeyore pictures|
But that leaves me with the question of Eeyore. The issue is a simple one: we are a mismatched pair trying desperately to make it work against all odds. Eeyore is a forward horse. His go to evasion is to hollow and canter. His go to fun loving activity is to canter. His go to response when he doesn't know the answer to a question is to canter. You get the point. I've tried training. It has worked to a point. He is undeniably way better trained than he was in 2018. His resume is now impressive. Unfortunately, at his core being he is still a forward horse. Guess what I am not? A forward rider.
Want to know what Hamilton and Leonard have in common? When they are unsure of something, when they want to evade real work, when they have no idea how to answer a new question...they stop, they think, they slow down. Sure, those behaviors are as "naughty" as Eeyore's answering with canter, speeding up, blowing through. In terms of a well trained horse, both are unacceptable. I'd hazard a guess that many people would find Hamilton's and Leonard's responses way more annoying/difficult than a horse who's go to is to get more in front of your leg, more forward, move the feet. Not this rider.
I have tried to be. Trust me I have. Having made this revelation, I have ridden Eeyore with the thought of: just suck it up, put your leg on and ride him forward. But that slides dangerously close to Type 3 Fun for me. I tried it. We boldly went forth around the arena, over jumps, around turns. Eeyore was light in my hands, ears forward having the time of his life. I was nearly shitting myself. I lasted 12 minutes before sliding off with shaking legs.
On the other side of that coin is forcing him to slow down, be a more woah type of horse. He can do it. I've been forcing him to for almost 4 years now. Guess what though? He is having solidly Type 3 Fun during those rides. And don't think I don't feel guilty. Had I never gotten Hamilton, I'd be plugging away with Eeyore still to this day. I'd be trail riding, riding at home, taking lessons somewhere. Nothing would be changing. It sorta really sucks.
Last weekend a young girl came out to ride him for a possible lease situation. She was a forward rider. Eeyore and her had a blast together. It really showed me how much of a disservice I am doing by him. Sure, Eeyore has a good horse life: pasture, herd mates, health care needs fulfilled. I don't know though. There seems like there should be something more for him. He is only 10, in the prime of his life here. Could he sit in my pasture the next 20+ years? Sure. Should he? I don't think so. Gem, heck even Hamilton could easily spend their entire lives as a pasture ornament and be great. Eeyore though.. while he doesn't give a crap about ribbons, ride times, penalties...he does give a crap about attention, adventure and doing things. He likes doing things.
|Simply being around Hamilton is Type 1 Fun|
It also warmed my heart in a very odd way to watch him stride off without me, not giving me a second thought. This horse is a human seeking missile. I used to think that he was a one person horse who had chosen me as his person. Nope. He really could care less about me specifically. He wants any attention, all the attention. In the end the girl decided not to take him. He is in a weird grey zone. Too forward and not trained well enough for a true beginner or timid rider but not athletic enough for those who want that competitive edge. I'm sure the right fit is out there.
Yeah...phew that was a long post. To conclude Eeyore needs a new situation. I'm not ready to sell him as I think he is quirky enough to end up in the wrong spot and he does not deserve that. I'd rather him sit as pasture puff with me than that. I'm trying to find a care lease situation with someone who would get him out and about, maybe event, maybe show jump, maybe fox hunt or hunter pace. I had some initial responses, but then I second guessed it way too much prior to this girl coming out and missed the boat. I have one more person coming tomorrow and then will renew the ad, worded a bit different this time. Hopefully something comes along. I also have a lesson scheudled with a new to me trainer at a hunter/jumper barn only 4 miles down from me. I guess I will be taking Leonard to that. I plan to ask her if she knows anyone looking as well.
I'll be sad to see him go. I will likely shed some tears because I do love seeing his face every day. Knowing he will be in a fun loving, forward thinking place though, getting to be him in all his glory will make it ok though. If I ever find that for him and there is no rush to get him there. I guess if any of you bloggers know anyone looking for a horse like him to lease, let me know or send them my way please.