Long and mushy post to follow so if you want to skip to the lesson update it’s at the start of paragraph 7.
I’ve known for a while that I never get that attached to animals, even close pets. I rarely, truly involve my heart in their care. I believe that this started because I grew up on a farm and so I learned from a very young age about death and suffering, there is really no nicer way to put it. I saw lambs that I had fed from birth die for no apparent reason and baby bunnies that I had saved and spent hours with getting eaten by one of our pet cats. I also was taught how to raise an animal for meat. These are things that the majority of people never experience especially from such a young age and in many ways I know it made me a stronger person but it also taught me to keep my heart out of things.
Of the eight horses I’ve owned I only ever really loved one of them and that was Sora. Even with her, when she was hurt and I had to make some tough decisions I pulled away and insulated my heart so that by the time I lost her it was only really painful for a few days. I’ve actually always been happy and even kind of proud that I don’t get hurt and don’t mourn the loss of pets/horses like other people do. It was reading Viva Carlos that made me start to question myself. At first when I started reading J. Williams' blog after she lost Carlos I was extremely heartbroken for her but at the same time I was sort of proud that I’d never gone through that myself. However, the longer I followed her blog and the more I read the more I started to wonder why I’ve never felt that way. Was it because I handle grief differently or was it because I’d never really loved any of the horses that I’ve owned. Maybe the reason that I’d never felt real grief when they moved on to different homes, which is of course different than having to make the decision to put them down, was because I’d never really let myself get attached to them in the first place.
This is a topic that I’ve spend a lot of time thinking about recently and I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that since my teens I’ve never really let myself get attached to, or love, any animal or pet that I’ve owned. I’ve always done my best to keep my heart out of the way. I don’t want to do this anymore. I’ve slowly learned, while dating of all things, how to open up my heart and love someone even though there is the possibility of getting hurt and it is ultimately a good feeling, a better feeling than just keeping myself from getting attached. I bring this up now in this blog because I feel I’m at a crossroads with Katai.
Down one path I put some more training into her, find her a little girl and use the money from that sale to buy myself something else. I’m not exactly sure why I would do this other than to get something a little taller, and I do mean a little taller because I absolutely adore this height range. I’d love to be able to afford a fancy GRP with warmblood movement in a small package but that unfortunately won’t be in my price range. Right now since I don’t really know how talented Katai is I don’t know if I could afford something with more talent.
Down the other path I keep her, ride her, train her, show her, and learn how to get truly attached to her. This path is scary to me for several reasons but especially because I don’t know what the future will bring. I can only partially trust any advice I get from anyone on her ability to do dressage because all they can see is her height or maybe her coloring. She is not what anyone of the people I know, who own warmbloods or quarter horses, would want so of course they advise me to sell her and get something different. That means that the only way for me to figure out if she has what it takes to get to 2nd or 3rd level, which would be where I’d like to ride at eventually, is my knowledge and I don’t have a lot of that at this point. Of course there is also the possibility that I will put my heart into her and she will top out at 1st or, and I doubt it, training. That, of course, doesn’t make this the wrong path but again it does make it tough for me since I like to keep my heart out of it until I KNOW that things will work out. I think Katai is incredibly talented and I see her doing things that people say are good signs such as her easy balance at the canter and the fact that it has always been easy for her to canter at the drop of a hat, even on the lunge. She is built uphill and has reasonably good, balanced confirmation especially for a mutt pony :) She balances on her hindquarters more naturally than any horse I’ve owned and her penchant for rearing, more of a Lavade, means that she does naturally balance her weight on her haunches.
Right now I feel like I’m about 80% - 90% sure that I’m going to head down the second path but I need a little more time to think about it and commit.
All of this is funny to go over right now because I had a horrible lesson last Thursday. Katai was absolutely convinced that she didn’t want to work with us and was resisting absolutely everything we asked for. I believe that she was in heat again due to a new mare being added to her pen. She seems to get tight and sore when she is in heat, and of course crabby which I can relate to, which leads to her trotting around with her head in the air stiff as a board. I also blame myself because it has been proven to me time and again that all she really needs is consistency and last week I was completely unable to provide that because of stuff going on in my life. Since that lesson I’ve had two good rides on her and I finally moved from my old apartment to the new one on Monday so my life should settle down again. Yesterday she was absolutely fantastic and we had the best, maybe only, real stretchy trot that we’ve had. She did it nice, and slow, and uphill in both directions.
I couldn’t stop grinning.