I’m currently in the incredibly fortunate position of having some mental and financial space to make plans for the future that aren’t purely reactive.
The Etsy shop has let me backfill emergency savings to my personal comfort level, and to be a little more generous in other purchases so that I don’t have to plan them months in advance. (One example: I have to re-order Tristan’s Pentosan and Prascend in the next 3-4 weeks, a $500 hit, but not one I’m freaking out about. That is a welcome change!)
I’m trying to devote some energy every week to introspection that can help me define goals and plans. There are a lot of things on my mind right now, some of them horse-related.
Probably the biggest is the sequence of events for After Tristan. He is right now what I would describe as semi-retired; three or four rides a week with the focus squarely on keeping him comfortable in body and mind. That means we’re making good progress, certainly, but it also means that where progress and ease come into conflict I’m generally going to choose ease. He’s 26 this year, and quite fit and healthy, but right now I see dressage less as a competitive and improvement-driven pursuit and more as a way to keep good muscle tone and flexibility.
I know a couple of things for sure:
- I can’t afford a second horse, whether Tristan is in active work or fully retired. That means that if he does have to step down to being a pasture puff (whether from injury or just age) I’ll be back to a lesson rider for an indeterminate length of time. That will be a sad moment, but not necessarily a bad thing; I’ve ridden one horse for fifteen years now, and getting broader experience will be useful.
- I do want to own another horse in the future. Right now, I want that to be a sport-bred old style Morgan gelding, something 15.2 – 16hh, not totally green but ideally younger than 12. Yes, I know that’s specific, and I know that making a specific horse-shopping list often backfires. I’m willing to wait. (I actually have a few farms here in Vermont that I’m keeping an eye on.) (though, honestly, there’s like a 15% chance I get talked into another mustang, we’ll see…)
- I’d like to get back into low-level eventing, up through Novice or so, and to take a crack at some higher-level dressage than I’m currently working on; Third level would be good. I’m not overly ambitious but I do like forward progress.
- I’d like to do more than I did with Tristan, to take advantage of the incredible horse landscape that Vermont offers. By the time we moved here he had broken his coffin bone and was at the waning end of his career. There’s still so much to explore with a horse. Some competitive trail? Camping? Fox hunting? Who knows!
What I don’t know is much broader. I don’t know anything about timing. I don’t know anything about finances. For the purposes of medium-term future planning: do I want to buy another truck and trailer? I was a nervous hauler and don’t regret for a second selling my truck and trailer a few years ago, but some of the things I want are only possible with my own rig. If I want that rig, I have to start making at least some small plans now. My current car hopefully has 3-5 years left, which is my window of decision about whether to replace it with a truck.
Do I want land? I thought I did. My heart still does. Having a small farm would mean I could in fact get a second horse. It would mean some other things that I want could happen – like taking on some small rescue/rehab projects. But I love my house, and I’m just not sure I’m up for the commitment of living on a small farm. (Husband has already made it very clear that any farm work would be 100% my responsibility, so that is a factor in planning.)
How big do I want to go? I’ve never been much on showing, mostly because I’ve never been anything close to competitive in my horse life, but would that change with a new, more talented horse? I don’t know!
Has anyone else faced an upcoming pivot in your horse life? Do you plan for it or do you just see how you feel when it arrives?