I've decided to sell Winston. I made the decision Tuesday afternoon. Last night I felt discouraged and tired, but relieved. Today I have felt overwhelming relief. The weight of worrying about Winston largely gone. When I talked to Sandy about my decision she asked me about my goals. I don't think what I told her was accurate.
What I wanted ten years ago has changed without me realizing it. Ten years ago I wanted to be a strong competitor in the dressage ring; I wanted to ride every day; I wanted to train, train, train. And ten years ago I did all of that. Well, except for the strong competitor part. I went to a lot of shows and I worked really hard, getting up in the dark to ride before work, my nose dripping in the cold morning air. And I loved it.
I don't want that anymore. I want to improve and progress but more than anything I want a horse that I can have at home; a horse that I can work with on my own, taking occasional lessons to keep me on track; a horse that I trust. Winston is not that horse.
My new job is very demanding; both in terms of time and energy. I enjoy it but it doesn't leave me time to ride during the week. I want a horse that can hang out in the pasture during the week and cruise around the arena or trail on the weekend.
Tuesday, the vet came to the barn and did a thorough evaluation of Winston. I wanted to rule out pain as the cause of his reactive behavior. I wanted to check everything before making a decision. She said that Winston is sore, but not any more sore than would be expected with the work he is doing. Certainly not sore enough to justify throwing himself around. She felt that his behavior is tied to his personality. It's a great personality for a competition horse -- brave and willing with a strong, but sensitive, rider.
To a large degree, he has my number. He is trying to dominate me; to be the alpha. It doesn't work on the ground. I've always been able to firmly establish my space and my position on the ground. Winston is no trouble at all in that area. But in the saddle its a different story. He's a very talented and fun horse to ride in a lesson but he scares me on my own. There. I've said it. I'm scared of coming off again. I'm 54 and my joints hurt. I'm too old to deal with young horse behavior. Especially with a strong willed horse.
Sandy is pleased with the progress that Winston is making. She calls him the "new" Winston. If I were still focused on shows and advancing and had the drive that consumed me when I was younger, it might be worth making the financial sacrifices to keep him in full training. But I'm not willing to go into debt, and I'm not willing to eat weenies and beans for dinner in order to progress. Winston's training has been blowing through our savings at an alarming rate. It can't continue much longer and I can't safely bring him home. He needs an owner who is where I was ten years ago.
I need to re-evaluate my goals as well. I told Sandy that my goal was to get a bronze medal. I'm not sure, on reflection, that it is my goal anymore. I want a horse who is kind, willing, sensitive and sound. I love dressage and that will always be the discipline I practice but I'm not sure I want to concentrate on competition. I want to enjoy the journey and the relationship.