So I've been riding at the same place for more than seven years now, ever since I first started taking lessons as a kid. It's a very nice place, it's run by a responsible and nice person, I was quite happy with it for a long time.
Lately though, I haven't been getting anything out of riding there. It's a very structured environment, if more casual than what I think of a show barn would be. If you have a horse there, you take lessons regularly and pay attention to what the barn owner/instructor says. There's not much space, and there isn't much time for just fun stuff either. I'm not a kid anymore, and I don't think I need so much direction.
I don't like pressure, I don't need to try to be perfect and strive for higher things and be serious about all of this stuff all the time. My trainer said that I should keep doing shows for my self-esteem, but I haven't been enjoying them for a while. I have fine self-esteem in other things, but it certainly takes a temporary blow if I do badly at a show, and I don't actually care that much if I win (I've been trained well that it isn't horrible if I come in last place, so first place doesn't affect me either lol). Last time I showed the green horse I was leasing I was so stressed out and miserable that he ended up running away with me within minutes of entering the practice ring, then on the actual show days I barely managed to get through them without another mental breakdown - I felt like I had failed, and wasted the time/confidence of my trainer and the money of my parents. My self-esteem just doesn't depend on doing well at a show.
Anyway, I'm looking now for a place where I can do more of what I want. Where I could set my own goals, play around some more and generally have more freedom to do different stuff. Maybe just take the occasional lesson instead of having every small imperfection shouted out at me every single time I get on. I've finally realized that I don't need to take the pressure.
I'm also considering buying a certain pony. I've already tried him out, but we sent him back from my current barn. He's kind of slow, not very sensitive to my leg when warming up, and quite out of shape, but he does pretty well on the jumps once he gets going - not perfect or anything, and my trainer still thinks he's slower than he should be, but he'll go over anything you point him at and he's a pretty cute jumper. I also really like his overall personality. His owner now is a kid who can't do anything with him, and we had to wait quite a while to try him out at the barn because a few weeks after the first time I rode him it turned out he had ulcers (he's all clear now).
I would move the pony to another barn as soon as we found one that was good. I think that we could get a really good thing going once we were used to each other and he was in good riding shape, especially if I had the chance to change it up and do trails and stuff instead of just the daily grind in an arena. I've been told that anything much better that we could find in our price range would probably be a lot older. And of course, I really do like him.
Does it sound like I'm being too optimistic about this whole thing? Would it be a bad idea to go ahead and buy the pony when some of my expectations ride on him improving a bit?