I have a lot of feelings - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 08-17-2019, 05:15 PM Thread Starter
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I have a lot of feelings

(This is more ramble than a proper question)

And boy are feelings complicated. So mostly, I ride Toby, my probably-quarter-horse-but-who-knows, my buddy for like 2 years. I had some months where I wasn't sure how I felt - did I feel only as connected to him as any given horse on the line? More? Less? With his purchase in progress and aimed for October 1st, I had sort of settled into "ok, he's never going to be my horse, but we can still be friends" plateau. Then we tried leading together, and I fell in love with him again. Especially a couple of weeks ago when we tried to handle a tree across the trail together, and he was so wonderful.

Right now, Tobes is on injured reserve with some back soreness, and he's lost a bit of weight but nothing that a month of extra food time and bute won't solve. So I rode Jasper yesterday, who is my second favorite. He's a mystery, he's a big draft cross with a stupendously smooth trot - smoother than Nugget the absolutely classic Cadillac of a QH. Nugget is smooth: Jasper is like cross-country skiing down a railroad. Smooth but fast. Jasper and I led except for like 25 yards where we walked contritely behind my instructor because he loves to GO, and I am not so good yet at keeping him at a normal pace. (He doesn't really ever lead, simply because he covers so much ground and is as forward as he is, he leaves folks behind.) My trainer thinks that somewhere in his brain is a ton of training that he's just so rarely been asked for. I agree. He can be remarkably precise for a 16+ hh horse with dinner plate hooves - he even did the tiniest jog when I wouldn't let him trot that was, no lie, even smoother than walking. It was perplexing but fun.

But ... I like Jasper. I like him better to ride than Nugget, and like all the barn horses I want the best for them.

So back to Tobes, and his sore back. The man who's going to buy him is a sweet gentleman, Pope, who is legit football-player sized. Like, well over six feet and built accordingly. And when The Vet (the barn has a local vet that just about everybody uses, boarders included) was out to see Tobes, he told the BO that Pope is too big to ride Toby regularly. Pope isn't a bad rider and I don't think he has a mean bone in his body - he is unfailingly kind to everyone, even the one boarder who is acutely mean to him - and he loves Toby. And I would hate for *him* to get his heart broken. But Vet says: he is just too big for Tobes to carry regularly and comfortably, and even with a perfect saddle his soreness may just keep reoccurring. The BO doesn't want to tell Pope he shouldn't buy Tobes (if he means to ride him) and I don't blame him.

But then there's also this: I asked my trainer, if Pope can't buy Toby, would I be able to? (With the money and all that obviously). And she said yes, that I'd be next if Pope couldn't. And the thought of possibly actually owning Tobes makes me want to cry, and I'm not even sure why.

Why are horses so complicated?

I'm also going to (probably) be off riding for a chunk of the Fall anyway - I have to get surgery to repair a herniated disc so I can ride and work (and do everything else in my life) without ending up in intractable pain.

Seriously: how is everything so complicated?
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post #2 of 12 Old 08-17-2019, 06:26 PM
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The vet told you and the barn owner, but not the future buyer, that the future buyer was too big?

I get why the barn owner wouldn't want to say that, I guess, since she has someone already lined up to buy this horse and getting a horse sold isn't too easy, but... if she really wants the best for this horse, and she has you as a potential other buyer, why wouldn't she say something to him? If him riding Toby isn't going to be good for Toby, then I would wish she would say that to this guy.

This is just hearbreaking, because it seems like Toby's best interests align with what you really want. And it's not like the barn owner would be out anything if you bought Toby rather than this other guy. At the same time, it isn't really your place to say something to him. But OTOH, Toby can't really speak up for himself, and if he can't do it then who will speak up for him?

I'm really sorry about this.
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post #3 of 12 Old 08-17-2019, 07:12 PM Thread Starter
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No, the vet didn't tell me, personally - I heard this from my trainer because she'd been there when he checked Tobes, and the vet's recommendation was that the buyer is just too big. Mostly I try to exist on the periphery of any rumors because my life is stressful enough without that.

I think the BO is reluctant just because the BO is a kind man, and Pope & his gf have been leasing Toby & Louie and never caused any issues they're just happy to come, ride, pay, and love on the horses. Beyond that, I couldn't say. It's not really my place to say.

I would love to be Toby's owner, I just don't want that to be at the cost of Pope getting his heart broken, you know? I could've been happy enough just leasing him from Pope.
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post #4 of 12 Old 08-17-2019, 08:03 PM
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Why can't Pope lease to buy Jasper, who is plenty big enough for him, and you buy Toby? Then everyone is happy, including the horses and the owner.

I can see why YOU can't tell Pope. It must be the owner. If a vet told me someone whom I allow to ride one of my horses was too big, I guarantee they'd never be on that horse again. Does the owner think if Pope only rides him briefly, it won't hurt Toby? I think a private talk with the owner might clear things up.
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post #5 of 12 Old 08-17-2019, 08:18 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by knightrider View Post
Why can't Pope lease to buy Jasper, who is plenty big enough for him, and you buy Toby? Then everyone is happy, including the horses and the owner.

I can see why YOU can't tell Pope. It must be the owner. If a vet told me someone whom I allow to ride one of my horses was too big, I guarantee they'd never be on that horse again. Does the owner think if Pope only rides him briefly, it won't hurt Toby? I think a private talk with the owner might clear things up.

Short answer: he doesn't connect with Jasper the way he does Toby. *shrug* We all know that feeling - Toby is special to him. Jasper is special to the person who leases him (and someone does).



I can't say how the BO's mind works. (I wish I did) My understanding (now I am at a real computer and can type properly), is that the Vet said that while with an absolutely perfect saddle, Pope could probably ride him lightly and/or infrequently, but the greater likelihood is that even at (Toby's) full weight with that perfectly fitted saddle, his back soreness will just continue to reoccur. So it's not a blanket ban, per se: it's saying that ultimately, this would probably be the wrong choice for both Pope (who loves to ride) and Toby (who, in spite of his trudging, actually enjoys all the attention he gets while working). Which is worse than a blanket ban, because there's that what-if. I think if it was a blanket ban, it would be easier for the BO to say something. (or if The Vet said something right out, because it's hard to argue with that.)

I guess I'll just see how the situation has evolved next week.
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post #6 of 12 Old 08-17-2019, 09:21 PM
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It's hard when you get ensnared in the web of caring for animals that are not yours to control. It can be really hard , but, to a certain extent, horses lives are often connected to a certain degree of intrinsic suffering. As are we all on this earth, no?.


But, we who love them want to be able to ensure a pain free life. I am not sure this is ever really possible, and less so for the horse that works for his living (the school horse ). You may have to stand by and let the 'play' unfold, act upon act, and see what happens.


I find it admirable that while you wish to protect your beloved Toby, you also feel empathy for the man Pope, and his feelings.
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post #7 of 12 Old 08-19-2019, 06:37 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
It's hard when you get ensnared in the web of caring for animals that are not yours to control. It can be really hard , but, to a certain extent, horses lives are often connected to a certain degree of intrinsic suffering. As are we all on this earth, no?.


But, we who love them want to be able to ensure a pain free life. I am not sure this is ever really possible, and less so for the horse that works for his living (the school horse ). You may have to stand by and let the 'play' unfold, act upon act, and see what happens.


I find it admirable that while you wish to protect your beloved Toby, you also feel empathy for the man Pope, and his feelings.

I'm a firm believer in a few things, and one of them is compassion. No, no one gets to live a life without pain of some kind (to quote the Princess Bride: "Life is pain, highness, anyone who says otherwise is selling something."), but part of making a good society (even a tiny society like a barn) is trying to mitigate that hurt for everyone. Every week after my lesson/trail ride, I help with night feed. Do I have to? No, but my trainer would be doing it on her own otherwise, and it goes faster with two people, and I get to spend more time at the barn. So we all ultimately benefit.



There's at least one boarder at the barn who is just drastically mismatched with their horse, and you look at them and think you know, I get it, you love the horse, you invested time and money, but this is maybe not the situation for either of you. If Pope wasn't as big as he is (at least, per The Vet), then this would be a great match. Toby would get ridden only by people who at least quasi know what they're doing, get to go out and work/play, and be loved on at least 5 days a week. It's hard to think that might not work out.


But you are right: I will just have to watch this unfold and hope it comes out for the best.
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post #8 of 12 Old 08-24-2019, 06:01 PM Thread Starter
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Well, I have no significant updates on Tobes, except that he's gaining weight well and misses getting all the attention afforded a working horse. A horse that was bullying everybody in that field was bought and switched to the boarders' field, so Toby gets somewhat more peace to eat his outside hay and gets brought in a couple of times a day. Two or three more weeks of this and he should be doing better.

In the meantime, I am working with Jasper. It is easy to forget that Jasper is several years older than Toby, with all his energy. His leaser apparently works him in the ring and he does well, but we've just been on the trail.

A few things make it a good challenge. One, I've ridden Jasper only a hand of times at all, so I don't know him as well as Toby. Two, Jasper isn't really (if not at all) used as a lead horse, because Jasper has a long stride and is full of beans, figuring if we're gonna go for a walk, let's GO. He's only hesitant going out of the yard - more in a "hey, this is different, is this a good idea?" And then I haven't led much either.

So we led together last week for the first time and did ... Ok. We had to fall back for about 50 yards or so to chill Jasper out (he's a bit programmed: certain spots are safe to trot, so they do think oh, trot now, but I just want him to walk for now.)

Yesterday, we led a two hour ride with a third party along to learn the trails. He's 14, one of the pony kids, and approximately as sensible as a teenager ever is. He borrowed one of the boarder's horses, with permission, a lovely old chestnut arab. My trainer followed on Steel, who enjoys the weekly opportunity to be lazy and attempt mischief.

It went very well. A varied terrain - through a creek, uphill, up high tension wires and across railroad tracks, into dense and bug ridden woods, etc. All over the place. Lots to challenge me - keeping Jas in check, stopping and turning him to check on everyone else, maneuvering around obstacles and cautioning those behind (my trainer knows the trails, but it's good practice as part of being a guide). It was tiring I think for both of us, but we did well. I'll feel more confident on Toby later on, and hopefully Jasper is learning from me. It's nice that my trainer trusts me on him as a lead pair.

My body did let me know later, but I didn't pay quite as harshly as I expected. But I don't think the disc herniation isn't going away without the surgery no matter how hard I try (it's been two years off and on, trying everything, and it's getting worse.) I'll just try and build up my core and enjoy what I can before I have to be on the injured list. Appointment with the actual surgeon is in mid/late September. I... Haven't brought it up with my trainer, or much of anyone, because I don't like people to fuss. I'll have to soon, though.
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post #9 of 12 Old 08-31-2019, 12:19 PM Thread Starter
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It turns out Pope is not as heavy as the vet thought he was, so, thank god I don't need to wrestle complicated feelings anymore and just go back to accepting that I can work with Toby and not own him. Whew.

(And just keep looking at other horses for sale that I can't buy.)

So, Toby's feeling better and has put on some good weight. The plan is to bring him back into working slowly, and for a little while Pope & I won't both ride him the same day. For the moment, I am on Jasper.

As noted, Jas is an older guy (twenty? More? He's in fabulous shape, you wouldn't think he's older than Toby), and apparently when he came to the barn he had ghastly teeth (which were fixed) and has always been fussy about his mouth. His regular bit is a plain old jointed snaffle, and every time it goes in he immediately starts chewing and chomping. He'll cool it during much of the ride but by the time we get back he's chewing and blaaah-ing, etc. He also tends to toss his head in the trot.

So, I had gotten this bit on clearance that I had thought we might use for Tobes but never got around to it. We happened to be talking about Jasper's mouth issues last week, and I remembered I still had the bit in my car. So I showed it to my trainer and asked if it was big enough for him, and if it might be more comfortable. It's got a cylinder in the middle, and a sort of elbow-shaped bar comes from each ring and fits into the cylinder almost like a ball and socket, so each side moves independently but it can't pinch his tongue, but it's not one solid piece either.

Anyway, this week, we gave it a go. Put it in: no fuss. A look of what, if he was a person, I might describe as confusion. He seemed to be considering it. He could eat and drink with it on just fine. It was honestly like night and day just in the stall: no chomping, no pulling away. He looked honestly comfortable, as relaxed as Nugget looks and Nugget is basically a sofa with a stomach. On the trail, he was just fine - still no chomping, no head tossing at the trot, wasn't trying to get out of it. By the end, still fine. I was so happy for him.

I do want someone with more experience to see how he operates in it, and I want to see how he does in the lead with it (we were in the middle yesterday). But I feel optimistic that this is a positive change and he just seems so much more comfortable in it. If it works out, I'll be thrilled.
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post #10 of 12 Old 09-01-2019, 08:37 AM
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Looks like a great change for him! Glad you had something on hand and thought to bring it up with your trainer.
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