That's what a friend told me the other day when we were talking about Courage.
When I met him, he needed a soft landing and I needed someone to soak up the tears from the looming inevitable.
I loved him. I wanted him to be my horse, the one that I trusted to take me places and do all the things. He was gorgeous and intelligent and good minded and oh-so-athletic.
When I needed him to be quiet and put the pieces of a shattered heart back together, he was there.
But when I asked him to be the horse I always wanted, he exited stage left. Repeatedly. He gave me one good season. One giant champion ribbon. One serious education in what it looks like when a horse tries his heart out for you, but he just can't do it anymore.
I rode through his antics. I learned to work with his quirks. I gave him a solid education in life beyond the track.
It was hard to understand at the time and it's only a little easier now.
|just another day|
I cannot overstate what he did for me and how he taught me to think through every step. To ask hard questions. To become more than myself and go beyond what I thought I could do. It wasn't always fun. It was never easy. It was blood, sweat, and tears, but the person I became because of him is someone I'm proud to be.
|and i will always love this photo|
I see now that in some ways, I did the same for him. He came off the track mentally broken. Failing at a demanding career. Discarded by the people who took the most from him. Wearing physical reminders that he'd never be the horse he once was.
|his last win|
He was never going to be the performance horse I wanted, but to be the horse he is now, he needed an in between time to learn that he could try again.
I felt like a failure when I admitted I couldn't make him be what I wanted and I couldn't make myself want what he needed.
|there were a lot of years to get here|
But sometimes life isn't about me. It's about giving an old warhorse a chance at a life he earned a thousand times over.
When I met his new person, I knew he'd hit the jackpot. He stepped off the trailer at his new home and landed where he was meant to be.
|not gonna lie, i'd like to live in his barn|
His owner is a private person and I respect that. I get photos of him once in a while and they make me so happy for him. He's wild and woolly and goes on trail rides in the mountains and never has to jump a jump or do dressage again.
|it's a good look for him|
No primping and preening and trying to make him what he's not. No more failing and disappointment for a hard knocking campaigner who gave his all.
It's not that I failed him or wasted my time. It's that there were things we needed to teach each other before we were each ready to be what we really needed to be.
|forever summing us up|
Happy trails, my friend. You deserve them.
Sometimes it's hard to be just that stop along the way for a horse, but seeing them thrive in their new life always eases the pain a bit. At least it does for me. You did really wonderful things for Courage -- and sometimes letting them move on is the most wonderful part.ReplyDelete
It's bittersweet for sure.Delete
Thank you for the update. I admire what you’ve done with Couage so much.ReplyDelete
Thank you. :-)Delete
It's been an interesting experience reading your blog the last few months. I see your posts about ZB and I'm so happy for you, while also having the increasing realization that I traded my Zoe for a Courage. Thanks for the update on Courage. I'm glad to hear he's doing well.ReplyDelete
It takes all kinds. She's perfect for me right now, but other people need other things.Delete
Glad Courage is doing well!ReplyDelete
Me too. <3Delete
So glad he has found the perfect home. It is so difficult realizing you’re not the right person but when you’re the person that helps them find the right person it makes everything good again :) Plus if you hadn’t had Courage and worked with him until the end you wouldn’t of found ZB! And that certainly makes everything worth it!!!ReplyDelete
That's a very meta view point. :)Delete
It's too early in the morning to ugly cry like this!! Beautiful writing... <3ReplyDelete
And I'm so glad you found the perfect home for Courage!
He was something. <3Delete
im hoping to have a similar story. glad to hear that he's doing well.ReplyDelete
I hope you find it too. Definitely eases my mind.Delete
I'm glad to see the update on Courage. Looks like he is doing well. I'm happy he found his current home, and you found your ZoeBird.ReplyDelete
There's nothing wrong with not being a stop along the way. You gave him an upgrade and helped him along his way.
*being. Duh, I can't type today.Delete
It's so complicated with the ones like him--it's definitely altered the way I look at asking a horse to do a job. In hindsight, I wonder if he wouldn't have been better served if I listened sooner, but I'll never know.Delete
happy endings can be so hard to find with horses, but it seems you've been able to do just that for both Courage and yourself. so wonderful!ReplyDelete
<3 So glad he's doing well.ReplyDelete
Me too. :)Delete
This makes me happy. I had a Courage of my own, and he's on his second home since me. It breaks my heart, but I did all I could to ensure he had a soft landing. He has to step up and do his part, too :(ReplyDelete
Real life is rarely a fairy tale.Delete
Aw Courage. I think most of us have gone through that horse (I know I did!), and it is never easy. They are not bad horses, but they can just not be good partners for us. And that's ok. He is loves (as my old horse is), and that is the best thing you could have done for him. So glad he is doing well (and that you are too!)ReplyDelete
There's so much of ourselves tied up in our horses. It's hard to get perspective sometimes.Delete
I needed this post today. Your journey with Courage has lasting goodness. Thank you.ReplyDelete
I often feel conflicted because I know when I have a horse that isn't in the right place with me. But you hear all the "you should never sell a horse", "you don't know where he'll end up", "he's your responsibility forever". And while some of that is true, it's also not fair to horse nor rider to both be in the wrong situation even if it is a safe one.ReplyDelete
Kudos to you for knowing when it was time to move on and for finding Courage a perfect new home.
I just got an update on Romey, and he's happily living on 400 acres and toting a kid through the woods. So his ending is a positive one too.
Aww glad he found his happy ending too.Delete
I love this. So much. Thank you for being the stepping stone he needed to end up where he was destined to be <3ReplyDelete
It's a strange thing to realize loving a horse means not being with them.Delete
All the feels. That is all. 😭💜ReplyDelete
We'll be back to your regularly scheduled ZB shortly.Delete
I'm glad he landed in such a perfect home...Both times.ReplyDelete
He is just such a cool horse.Delete
It’s wonderful to hear he’s doing well.ReplyDelete
This is a wonderful way of putting it! Glad he is doing wellReplyDelete
He certainly deserves it.Delete
So many feels right now. Bittersweet for sure... but maybe more sweet than bitter.ReplyDelete
Little of both. ❤️Delete
I came across your blog a bit late, Courage is gone to a new home. I had a similar experience with an OTTB. I did keep mine and six years later, we are finally a good match. What I did a bit different, where you and I went separate ways, is I invested a lot of time and money ( not money I wanted to spend either but felt it was the only way to save my horses life) on horse whisperer, natural horsemanship work and training. Not cowboying type stuff. I threw out all the tie downs, stopped with the worthless endless longing to make them tired , and instead got help teaching my horse to respect humans and learn how to process new and scary things safely. This meant I put a full stop on training that involved looking pretty, riding pretty and pretty much any riding for a while. Threw out all the tie downs, martingales, draw reins, side reins etc. And we did trust and leadership on the ground for years, not a one day clinic etc, I won't lie, it was mind numbing boring a lot of time, small steps, etc.. Some thoroughbreds are so mentally damaged from the track, and had such a poor start with basic ground manners that they cannot be re-started with traditional trainers and cannot be fixed while riding. And most of them need daily pasture, n ot a dirt paddock or small pen. I count myself lucky that there happened to be a few horsemanship/ horse whisperer types right in my area. Otherwise I think I would have continued and failed at traditional training until one day my horse would have been retired to a pasture. It gets more complicated than just natural horsemanship, I found out my horse was near sighted, which means that I have to approach spooking and fear in a non traditional way. He also has enlarged corporate nigra which means he sees less well in bright sunlight. Details most Vets will not bother to even look at unless you ask. I am glad Courage got a good home. I wanted to respond in case anyone else is struggling with an OTTB in similar ways. Training from the saddle, lunging until horse is tired, will not fix the problem or keep you safe. These horses are reacting from a mental place not a high energy place. I can take my horse out of his stall now and while he still a high energy can go all day horse, he can walk calmly, ride calmly because he was taught to behave on the ground and under saddle. There were some specific activities that taught my horse to never buck under saddle again. But those techniques were only introduced after a year of solid ground horsemanship. Most people don't have the time which is why so many of these mentally damaged horses end up at low end auctions. But they can be repaired with the right kind of training. I think in your case, your horse got a good deal going somewhere he can just relax.ReplyDelete