The Truth – And How To Pick One

Hi friends.

Buckle down.  Get ready for a bit of a read.  It’s OK, you’ll be alright.

It’s late.  Dark out.  The dogs are sleeping.  Displeased they still haven’t been tucked in with their blankets in our room already.  Two dogs.  7 dog beds.  One car bed and an outdoor lounger.  Not insane at all.


Picture this:

You dream of buying a horse.  A young one.  Because.  Affordable.  With plans to back and train on your own.  With only half the trouble everyone else seem to have.  Find a wonderful perfect place to keep it.  Go to shows.

Slowly bring it up the levels.  And even somehow, without owning horse transportation of your own, manage to go win little silly ribbons every time.  Heading out to clinics.  Making wonderful friends along the way.  Being lucky to trailer out on gorgeous trail rides.  Training in a covered arena on a nice and quiet ranch.

At the shows, you’re thrilled with a 7 for gaits, every time out, knowing the classes always contain a wee bit more magically developed dressage horses with flair.  Doing your best at home to create supple and lively gaits out of a horse that originally moved like a nervous Volkswagen.  Cherishing her beautiful topline, healthy hooves and generous, stable, temperament.

Wait!  All of this already came true!

azteca dressage

Now consider this:

You feel down, not affording a horse with a proven bloodline, let alone refined, balanced gaits, with all the buttons installed, and a life time of opportunity ahead.  Or at least a promise.

You’re bummed you can’t at least compete in an All Breed Class  (Oh, please!).  Registration papers are missing.  And you have to board miles and miles away, sitting for  what feels like hours in the car.  Some days let down by all the time spent caring for everything around your horse instead of training constructively.  Sometimes only squeezing in 30 minutes of useable training time in your 5 hour barn time quota.

It feels ineffective to train alone.  You have to motivate yourself  (Duh, come on!).  Riding time with friends is rare.  To top it off summer is murderous hot  (Or lets say rainy, windy, ice-cold, freezing, muddy, whatever pushes your buttons!).  Oh, and summer heat lasts much longer than 5 months.  Hay gives you life threatening asthma.  Your body is getting a bit rickety and you can’t run much any more.

Starting a young horse is a roller coaster.

training young horses black and white photo
Valiosa, long before 4 years old. Toothpick neck, still a cob sized head, and a blank slate.


Which one would you pick!!?

Of course everybody has already figured out they’re both true.  It’s your choice!

Go make your own kind of happy.

22 thoughts on “The Truth – And How To Pick One

  1. I think most of us have a version of this. I smiled to myself reading this — all my previous horses were of the blank slate variety. This time around, I have Lucy who was 12 when she came to me; wonderfully trained but with no papers whatsoever and some joint challenges. Also, I’m living the dream of having my horses in my own backyard, so to speak, but I’m also living the reality of all the work that goes with having horses at home. Even though I’m lucky if I get to ride once a week, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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    1. Yes, the work of having the horses at home… I’m all familiar with it, and I know how incredibly hard it can be to fit in time for much of anything else. Very rewarding though, as you say!
      Hope everyone is safe during this storm!! All creeks are rising.


  2. Even if you get the horse with all the papers and all the breeding and all the training and all the good health and all the eyes on the ground help and and and….as hard as it may be to believe … it is STILL hard work. Good days, bad days and in between days. My hat is off to you working with a youngster on your own. From what I see in the photos you are on your way and on the right way. It is all what makes life worth living . I believe that.

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    1. It keeps us young and on our toes 🙂 Nothing like a great morning of riding, saves the day!
      On days when I feel we’re doing really bad I always imagine other possibilities.
      Then of course, once we have maybe just a few hints of magic during a ride, I realize I could never trade it in! 🙂

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      1. It also helps to not be very competitive–at least with other riders. I am ridiculously competitive with myself though. Always looking to be better than I was the day before…but not better than someone else. That’s good for all the someone elses but makes me be a bit hard on myself too often! 😩

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  3. Ah yes, most of us have been here and recognize it well. Thank you for being real about the ups and downs, horses can be so discouraging. Elinor, as your devoted reader and cheerleader, I am so proud of the amazing progress you and Valiosa have made, and under some quite difficult circumstances of distance, boarding situations, and no much training help. It’s amazing! I wish very much that you had it easier, and yet maybe you wouldn’t be the determined and competent and scrappy person you are if things were easier. Not to mention you wouldn’t have quite the same satisfaction if you had bought a “made” horse (although that schoolmaster thing is great, as you know from riding some occasionally), or if your trainer rode the horse constantly. As for all breeds, having played the “All Breeds” game, I can tell you that it is expensive to qualify (so many tests you have to do, organizations you have to belong to), ridiculous in its hoops, and what do you get in the end? A little 2.5″ medal on a ribbon and you can print your own certificate out online. Woohoo. Know that you and Valiosa WOULD win it if you had the papers and wanted to play it. Meanwhile, progress up the levels and go for the Rider Awards if you want to, but most of all, enjoy your fantastic and TALENTED and BEAUTIFUL mare in a million. If you go review some of your posts from a couple of years ago, you will see the amazing progress you both have made. Well done, both of you. First Level will be very successful this year; 2nd level on the horizon…Excited to see how it goes!

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    1. So, this day was pretty crummy.
      We had workers fix our fence at home, $900, result of the storm (which is STILL going.), paid my dog’s vet bill of $525 (because he’s worth it!) had my surgeon adjust my finger in a new cast while pushing on the wires that are poking out through the bone (!), and then things went less than stellar (big understatement) with my cooped up mud-rucker at the barn today.

      Your comment here makes up for it all!
      And yes, so right, it’s a lot more fun going through the gritty process vs. riding something already trained. But yes, schoolmaster in back pocket please!;)

      You’ve confirmed my suspicion that All Breeds is mostly a glorified way to “just get out there and get some scores” especially for owners looking to breed in the future. Which I’m not!

      OK, carrying on!

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      1. All Breeds kinda sucks. Seriously. I can say that as an AB winner (ha ha) but really, it’s a game to play, an expensive one that drives my husband crazy because I spend lots of time and money and then what do I get? This crummy medal. Honestly, the whole system is either for breeders or it’s for us to raise money for the Nationals. I’m so ticked that they are raising the Q score price to $15/class – to fund the Nationals, that most West Coast people will NEVER EVER attend (because they are always on the East Coast, that’s one good reason why). Oh, don’t get me started. Well, I don’t have to do Q classes or go to the Regionals. I don’t have to play any of these games. On the other hand, I do need achievable goals. So the problem is: what are measurable, achievable goals? That’s the problem. What are reasonable goals for most of us? There’s a blog article in that rant somewhere…Meanwhile, so sorry about your endless bills (and yes, your dog is SO worth it!), and especially about your poor finger. So horrid and frustrating. It will get better in time for Spring riding. Dream of Spring and of a hand that works…give yourself time to heal…

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        1. Confirms what I’ve thought all along…
          Now, promoting a stud – yes!
          Getting points on a mare for breeding – yes!
          Young horse for later sale and/or breeding – sure!
          The rest, I suppose it’s really not too exciting.
          As for reasonable goals, always shoot big, but always avoid the “crazy dreamer” outlook – I know we’ve both met them, the horse-crazies-one-inch-away-from-lunacy.
          They always have lofty goals, but nothing much materializes. (Usually due to not working hard enough, but often just due to horse-showing being so fickle and fragile.
          Top riders can lose their next 2 years of hope from just one minor mishap…).

          I think a Silver medal is a reasonable, attainable, yet humongous and difficult goal for most amateur riders with no school master to throw in for the last few scores.
          I have a feeling you’re there, or close to it – so you know what to shoot for next 🙂
          10 year plan…

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          1. Ah yes, the Silver Medal. That is within my two year plan, assuming Star (or I) do not go lame in some major way. Should be attainable. Also playing the centerline scores rider rating game and need to get a couple more scores at 2nd and 3rd to get my 3* rider rating, woohoo. Why bother? Oh, why not.

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          2. Hey, I’d say ANYTHING that increases morale and motivation is great! I’m absolutely convinced you and star will get there, with just time – and like you say, staying sound.

            The new Gemstone awards are somehow not all that enticing to me though… Will be interesting to see how they catch on.

            (and, just because it’s a HAPPY afternoon and I have to tell someone – I’ll be able to share some good news soon. I think I’ve lost weight this week just from stress… Couple of more days and there’ll be one less thing to stress out on.)


          3. Agreed about the Gemstone awards. More things to pay for, more cheap little pins to put on your jacket? I don’t think so. Somehow those awards feel…condescending to us, the amateurs, like they had to come up with something to try to make us feel better. I don’t know why, but that’s how it makes me feel. Anyway, I’m not paying for them. As for you losing weight, you sure don’t look like you need to, you have that lithe perfect rider physique already! Don’t get too thin, remember you need your strength for slinging saddles and sacks of feed around 🙂

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