Buzz came to our family rather unexpectedly. Which is to say, I had no intention of owning another horse. Ever. We’d had a racehorse before the girl-child came along but she was sold as soon as the pee-stick said we had to make some serious adjustments in our lives. And that was fine. Motherhood (or, impending motherhood) has a way of bringing about a startling clarity of priority.
But I digress.
I was at the movies with the kids (there were two of them by then) and got a text message from B asking if 15.3hh was too big for our daughter. In a series of whirlwinds [read: before I had time to be sensible and question the sanity of the thing] the next thing I know we’re moving a fresh-off-the-track thoroughbred into our neighbour’s barn (we had nowhere else to go on such short notice).
So Buzz lived with cows for the first few months of our time together, along with a draft mare named Folly and a miniature horse named Velvet. They loved him quite desperately. He was oblivious. His next-door neighbours — two bottle-fed calves, chewed off his forelock. Obviously he was okay with that, too.
The next couple of years were spent mostly doing not very much with him. Once he was moved to an actual horse-boarding facility, the kids and I would go and visit and ride a few times a week. I hadn’t ridden in over 10 years. The years prior (about 5-ish) had been spent galloping horses at the track. I hadn’t ridden “properly” since I was about 17. Neither one of us had a clue about How Not to Be Racetrack.
But he’s a gem and an all-round good egg so we enjoyed ourselves being Remedial. His trot was god-awful and his canter un-sittable. He couldn’t balance himself to save his life. Of course, being Remedial, I didn’t know that was why it felt like I was riding an egg-beater.
Despite that, we had fun. In a moment of madness, I pointed him at a small cross-rail one day and he flew over it. That was my first inkling that perhaps there might be more to him than just a pretty face.
Fast forward and I moved him to the place I was working at the time. It was an offer too generous and lovely to refuse — a beautiful facility (I could never. ever. have afforded to pay full price to board there) and wonderful people, much smaller than the previous place that was starting to get a bit too busy for us introverts. There were two down-sides: very limited turn-out and the fact it was primarily a dressage barn.
So he went from 24/7 turnout to 4 hours turnout (at the maximum).
And suddenly our being Remedial was painfully clear.
Despite the kindness and unwavering support of my fellow-boarders, it was still really, really intimidating to ride there. Neither of the kids felt comfortable. The few attempts we had at dressage lessons ended in frustration and disillusionment– being ex-racetrack meant we both needed to re-learn how to communicate with one another and that just wasn’t happening.
But what did happen, was some jumping lessons that pretty much lit the fire.
That eventually led to some cross-country schooling which led to a cross-country clinic which led to the burning desire to do that eventing thing.
Which led to a harsh reality check.
Time, or lack thereof.
Finances, or lack thereof.
The fact he couldn’t hold himself up at a trot or get around a corner without scrambling.
Add to that, I’d pretty much decided, due to some disheartening coaching, that dressage was not for People Like Us.
The first two were too hard to contemplate, so I decided we should focus on the last bit.
Even I knew that if we wanted to fix our myriad of problems over fences — most notably, his racetrack-default of head-down-pull paired with my racetrack default of sure-go-ahead-I’ll-lean-right-into-that which was killing my back (and would only end up hurting him too) — then we’d have to conquer the flat-work.
We’re now boarding at a facility a mere 5 minutes from our house. (It came to me, in the battle of Time and Entitlement, that ease of access was really important to how often I rode). I work there for a few hours a morning to off-set the cost of board and we have the World’s Best Part-Boarder –D.
We also have the World’s Best Coach – G – who has rocked our world and changed our lives.
Finally, we “get” it!! We don’t always often implement it, but at least we now know what’s expected.
If you knew us a mere six months ago, you’d hardly recognize us.
And so we go….
….to infinity and beyond.