It was sudden to buy a new horse and we are not impulsive horse buyers. Well, except for when I bought the mini. We really needed a companion pal who didn’t poop or eat too much. The entertainment he brought with him is a bonus. With our most recent new member, we didn’t just bring home a horse, but we found a Grand Prix horse! I’m eager to share the whole story because it has restored some hope that modern dressage youth are willing to forego fame and recognition to help a good horse become great again.
Many might wonder, “what about Benson and Jack”. They are a dynamic duo and their partnership is a beautiful experience to encounter whether at our farm or at a show. Benson has had some health issues that aren’t career ending, but they definitely don’t make him a reliable show companion as he has been since we bought him. His difficulties occurred right after he gave Jack his Prix St. Georges experience. Jack was able to show him enough at that level to feel accomplished when Benson showed signs of difficulties with navicular changes. We are discovering ways to help him be comfortable but it’s a complicated puzzle. Somedays he feels amazing, and others it hurts. Nonetheless, we are relentless in our pursuit to find the best cocktail for his issue to help him feel great. Whether that is changing our footing, medicines, shoes, or medical treatments. We’ll find it! When we do, however, Benson will become my ride. As Jack has completed his goals with Benson, the plan was always meant to be that he would then become my horse. That was the big deal when we bought him and the time has come.
What we didn’t know when we made that plan with Benson is that Jack would still be so committed and enthralled with dressage! We thought he would be off to University life and forget about the horse chapter of his life. Well that didn’t happen. Jack has one year of homeschooling to finish high school. We have discussed at length what he wants to do next as there are so many options and we support all of them! With a full spectrum of opportunity and much soul-searching Jack believes he wants to take a year of community college before transferring to a University. He also wants to try to go for his Grand Prix and finish his dressage basic training. This gives him two more years before he goes off to live on a campus and delve into a degree to make a big adult life change.
As my husband and I discussed this goal and ambition of his we agreed to begin looking for a horse in Europe to bring here who could teach him how to move into the Grand Prix show ring. No sooner did we concede this would be a good investment in his work ethic and talent but an older Grand Prix horse was going to be for sale the very next day. The trainer was a friend of Ali’s and we learned of his availability before his advertisement went public so we were able to scramble from a Sunday after church to arrange for Jack and Ali to go to New Hampshire to ride him first before anyone else could get to him on Wednesday. That was last week. It was sudden and surprising but it seemed important to test him out.
There was an immediate bond between Jack and this guy, who seemed to be really searching for his person. This horse was imported by Lars Peterson when he was a youngster and proceeded to take two adult amateurs to Grand Prix. His recent owner bought him two years ago but became very ill, and during that time he wasn’t maintained as an athlete. It is sad to see how out of shape and thin he is now. But it is so fun to see how willing and excited he is to show us he would like to be a Grand Prix horse again. The vetting for an older horse didn’t have great deal breakers, he is actually quite sound and eager to get to work. We’ll have to do regular maintenance work but seriously, far less than we do for Benson now! So as it all worked out he was found, vetted, approved, bought and shipped just in time to arrive on Jack’s 18thbirthday. I couldn’t have planned that if I tried in one week! And it was all answered prayer for Jack at the same time, which confirms his life choice.
So even though Jack could have imported a ready to go horse muscled up, tuned up and centerline ready, he fell in love with this older guy and is eager to spend the next year bringing him back to strength in a way where he loves his work and stays sound. Some might call him crazy but I say I couldn’t be more proud of him for this choice. He is going to wander in the dark some days, feel frustrated and lost, but ultimately he will invest his heart and soul into helping a really great horse come back while developing a great understanding of how dressage is meant to work. It is a way of riding that is supposed to make a horse better, more athletic, more balanced, and happy to go to work. It’s not ok to discard the ones that are hard to ride, unfit, or puzzling. We are supposed to change our SELVES to help the horse achieve the beauty dressage horses express such as, harmony with rider, balance, calm connection, regularity, relaxation, submission, and energetic expression. Jack has chosen to help Manny come back strong and be his partner, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health for richer or for poorer. And yes, Manny, submission and obedience is part of the deal. Til death do they part. (might be good pre-marital training to boot.)