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Future plans, or, questions without answers

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.

Younger, braver, faster (schooling at Scarlet Hill Farm in 2010)

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!
About our current speed (summer 2018)

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?

7 thoughts on “Future plans, or, questions without answers

  1. Hugs, those are hard (but also exciting) decisions. I’m a planner, so I spend a lot of time thinking about plans like this. I already have a long-term plan for post-Connor and he’s only 15. On the farm thing, you’re in the same situation I am. I grew up with them at home and know how much work it is, and also own a house in the city that I love, and also have a husband who is 150% not an outdoor kid and not willing or interested in helping with farm chores. Between that, my love of having fellow boarders around to hang out with, and how much I travel, I’ve accepted I’m a life-long boarder. The positive flip side of that, it means that I can vacation and live 2 minutes from my CrossFit gym, something generally not possible on a farm. But it’s all about figuring out what lifestyle you both want going forward, because having them at home IS a lifestyle choice, not just a housing/money choice.

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  2. I have so much admiration for what you’ve done with your etsy shop, and it’s awesome that it’s so beneficial for your financial goals and also making those big horse expenditures less daunting!
    Having horses at home is definitely a huge lifestyle commitment, and doing it without a SO who can support you in that way would be tough. There are definitely times I wish I could live in a convenient house in town and just pay someone else to deal with the downsides of farm life (chores in subzero weather, things breaking, the stress of sourcing necessities like hay, not being able to afford boarding barn amenities like an indoor, and I could go on 🤦‍♀️). But of course for me, the upsides make it worthwhile (for me, not necessarily everyone).
    I think you’ve got a lot of (potentially exciting) options in your future and I love getting to follow along 🙂

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  3. I really like that you’re thinking ahead like this. I used to be such a planner, but my horse life went so sideways many years ago, that now I just kind of take it as it comes.
    I still can’t get over Tristan turning 26 this year. He really looks fantastic.

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  4. We went through this seven years ago when planning to move to Eastern Oregon with Mocha. At first hubby talked about buying acreage (he is an ex-dairy farmer and still loves him some tractor action) but I gently talked him out of it, in spite of knowing that boarding could be a challenge. We’re both in our sixties and know what we are up against, so it didn’t take much work.

    Mocha is going to be 21 in March. She’s doing well but is semi-retired depending on what happens with Covid. Last year I was going to start barrel racing her since there’s a nice little local club and she really likes doing that. Covid put paid to that. I’m seeing some signs of aging which primarily affects doing anything too complex at speed (like reining classes, which is what she’s bred and trained for, or cutting classes). Barrel racing doesn’t fall into that category. All the same, I’m thinking ahead. Barn owner has already asked if I’d be interested in thinking about riding other horses. I’ve said I’m open to talking. She has a small breeding operation and some horses that need riding because they are very easy keepers, but need to keep tuned up for rodeo queens and the like when they come to visit the local rodeo.

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  5. ohh you are in the land of Morgans up there, so i am jealous when that happens!! And as to the rest, I am so glad you have done so well with your etsy shop and can make these scoped out plans for the future.

    I would stay unless you really want to take care of land to think again about buying a farm. Love my farm but its a lot of work. And my horse didn;t like living here soooo now we have all this land for 2 donkeys ha and a fancy barn no one uses.

    But I look forward to following what you do in the future!

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  6. Farms are a lot of work, but man are the costs savings real. It costs to little to keep horses at home (as long as we pretend the mortgage is a factor). Being able to cheaply retire my (growing) collection of old and injured horses was a big part of wanting horse property.

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  7. I am a planner too so I’m constantly thinking different scenarios, but it’s tough to really pin some things down (for me at least because I’m not tied down nearly as much as other bloggers). I still find possible future scenarios thrilling though, and I think that in the plan you should be able to dream as big as you want too.

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