Around the time we retired Tigger, I fell pregnant. Becoming pregnant basically means you grow larger, over a period of time, until you become the size of three people and then you have a BABY. During pregnancy you also give things up. I gave up horse riding, botox and wine and I missed them all in exactly that order. Anyway, so LIFE CHANGES. Our change came in the form of Oliver James, a glorious, blonde haired, blue eyed, blessing who loves toast, dancing to hot potato and feeding carrots to Thhhhh.
Like most horsey girls, I spent my entire pregnancy talking about when I was going to start riding again. For me this had an additional layer of emotional complexity because I knew I didn’t have a horse. Luckily I had FRIENDS, Kate Nash, Laura Darvall, Cassia Montgomery so riding slowly began again. In the midst of the blur that was the first year of my child’s life, I began to badger a fancy German dressage trainer (Peter Fischer, but I like calling him a fancy German dressage trainer) and I badgered him mercilessly. “Peter, I realise I don’t have a horse but I want you to train me. Remember me, you gave me like three lessons a year ago? Well, I want you to help find me a horse. I promise I will listen to everything you say. I really want you to help me Puuuhhleasssse?” I’m sure he thought, who is this crazy person who wants me to train them and has NO HORSE, but you see, it hadn’t take me long to work out that Peter has a knowledge of dressage that could quite possibly eclipse Dumbledore’s knowledge of the dark and magical arts and how was I going to replace horses like Teddy and Tigger, I didn’t really want to just roll the dice, I needed ADVICE, I needed an EXPERT.
So, for the past YEAR, I have been navigating the dark and murky waters that are HORSE DEALING. I have tried to sail through those waters with as much tact and grace as I can muster and the lovely, unexpected, fabulous thing, is that I have actually made some new friends. Wonderful, funny, horsey people like Mascha Stolwich, who breed lovely horses but understood why the horse I was looking at on that particular day was not my next partner. With the ups have come the downs and I have certainly felt the sharp end of the dealing stick. There was the very posh and fancy woman who let me book flights and organise someone to look after Oliver and then promptly sold the horse to someone else. Of course, being very posh and fancy means she has never done the wrong thing by aaaaaannnnnyyyyone and she has fancy horses all over the world, even fancy young horses in Germany with fancy people called Anna Sophie Fiebelsomething, BLAH BLAH, SNOOOOOOOZE, WINE, MORE WINE.
For the last year, I feel like I have been stuck in some sort of Horse Deals/Horsezone/Warmblood Horses for Sale Facebook Page, Tinder style PURGATORY where every night I’m scrolling, scrolling, WINE, scrolling and it’s almost always too big, too small, too old, too like WESTERN AUSTRALIA, and most painful of all (even though I think my budget is pretty reasonable) too expensive. So anyway REALITY CHECK, since my pathway to equestrian greatness isn’t going to be strewn with discarded swarovski crystals and hundred dollar bills, I am still LOOKING. Peter has been absolutely stalwart in his support of my search and has watched like a million videos and looked at nearly as many horses in the flesh and has said NO so.many.times.
The thing about Peter’s no’s, is that they aren’t just no’s they are always no’s wrapped up in a LESSON so every time he says no, I LEARN something. I’ve learnt things like the importance of clear beats in every gait and how to look at whether a young horse can naturally push from behind. Anyway, amidst all of the no’s there was one horse that came CLOSE and interestingly, this was the horse that taught Michael A Tweedie a lesson. Earlier this year there was a three year old that I went back to have a second ride on. Peter came to look at the horse and whilst I was riding it, made a couple of Dumbledore like observations and all of a sudden I had a total and complete light bulb moment. I changed a couple of things, my tempo, a little more of a supporting leg and it felt like Optimus Prime TRANSFORMING and everything clicked and I got the horse CONNECTED and I was like Ohhhhhh myyyyyy Gaaaaawwwd this horse is my DESTINY!!!!!!! Then because my brain was entirely muddled by endorphins and I was no longer capable of clear and rational thought, it was over to Michael A Tweedie to give the horse a once over.
He looked at it’s back and it’s legs and said, “I’m sorry but no”. THUD. The conversation went something like this “Darling, I know you love this horse and it has given you a great feeling but it won’t be giving you a great feeling when it’s six because it will be broken. I just don’t think it will stand up” I was like blaaaaaarrrrggghhhh, arrrrggghhhhhh WINE, blaaaaaaarrrgggghhhh, FEELING, FEELING, WINE, WINE. Once the endorphins had cleared, from a veterinary perspective I totally agreed with him, so you know, decision made. Anyway, about a week later he says to me, “You know, now I think I get it”. “Get what?”, I said. “After the way you acted over that horse, I think I now understand why sometimes, when I explain to a client why they really shouldn’t buy a horse at vet check, they like, go and buy it anyway. Now I get it”.
Anyway, the good news, is that in spite of a year long search for a horse, our marriage is still intact. YAYNESS!! I am still pounding the pavement as much as I can because, you know VET PRACTICE and ONE YEAR OLD. The search has been long and frustrating and what no-one ever tells you, is that your toughest times as a rider will always be when you’re not riding or not riding enough. These are the times when you have got to suck it up and not take it out on your husband/vet or your fancy German dressage trainer because after a long search you NEED these people to give an unbiased opinion and stop you making a bad decision because you are.over.it.
This week, I have turned my horse search over to the UNIVERSE. I haven’t lost faith though, since the universe has looked after me before…………