My big piece of advice to the horsey world? Ride/own the horse you have fun with. For so many years, I rode the horses no one else wanted to because those are the ones broke teenagers with little formal training get offered. Then I progressed to owning the ones I thought I should own for the (ambitious) goals I had. I worked my butt off to make it work, cause that's my default rather than giving up. I got tired, I got burnt out, I lost almost all my confidence as a rider and pretty much was one more bad ride from giving up.
Thank goodness the world intervened and I got the little Midget pony who checked absolutely none of the boxes on my original wish list (beyond being a healthy and sound equine).
And, as documented on this blog , we've proceeded to have so much fun. Even on the bad days, it doesn't feel like a chore to get out there and ride so a surprising amount of progress gets made. Because it's fun, most of my bigger picture goals don't matter as much anymore. We'll get wherever we get when we get there :)
Tonight, the Midge was very fresh. I was not thinking rider safety and definitely should have longed her first. While 5% of my brain was anxiously hoping I didn't get turfed, the other 95% was kicking on, laughing, and enjoying the show. That's a good feeling :)
When EC came out and started setting jumps for our first jump lesson since before Christmas I was like "I'm nervous, but I know Midge has got this, and I know as the lesson goes on I'll be having more and more fun". When she started setting a proper course with a full 2'6" oxer on a line to a second oxer containing the spooky ex Christmas tree, I was mentally going hmmmm. Add in a tight rollback that felt like it would put us on top of the vertical, then ending with a skinny, and I was like "Well, if we die, at least it was while we were having fun!"
Since I'm here writing this post, you can be assured we had fun and didn't die. My equitation was all over the place to start, but felt ok once we got going. Midge had a couple of stops at the skinny because she'd never seen one and the way it was set adjacent to some barrels made it look like it might be a corner. Still, the pony was on fire. Walk to canter transitions, check. Changing leads over fences, check. Simple changes through a trot stride or two, yep boom, done. Compress the canter, sure. The rollback, no worries, she's got it. And finally, that skinny? In her mind, she owned it. My toe tapped the top of the standard, she was taking no chances there!
We discussed long term future plans again tonight as I sought advice on what tests to ride in the dressage show and what level to enter for the two phase (A: Training Test 2 for the dressage, with an option for a second test at First if it goes well. Starter (2'3") for the two phase the following day with a second jumping only round at Pre-Entry (2'6") )
Long term advice? "KEEP THIS PONY!"
Like I'd have it any other way :) As a bonus, because I enjoy getting out there and the pony enjoys her job, we slowly progress. We progress to the point that EC thinks some of my big picture long term goals are going to be achievable on the pony I didn't at all purchase for that purpose. Funny how life works out.