Thank you all so much for your comments, your encouragement, and your advice about my last post. It is, has been, and probably always will be a tough place to sit sometimes for me. I think O has what it takes to be a successful CDE horse - so long as her brain is functioning. It's especially tough because I never feel like I am in serious danger, and it's not scary when she is having a fit. It's just.... frustrating and annoying. (Although, this might be because I have a kind of extended idea of what constitutes dangerous behavior...) When push comes to shove, while she'll fight me hard to prove a point, if it ever gets to the point where she feels that her own safety is being compromised in an external way, everything stops. When my holdbacks snapped and the cart rolled up into her butt - she stopped dead. It could have been a disaster - she could have panicked or spooked or lost her mind, and a lot of horses do when this happens - but she did the opposite of all of those things, and completely stopped of her own accord. Same with her buck - she could have heard the noise she made and scared herself half to death, but she didn't, she just stopped. Deep within her berserker heart, there is solid sensibility. If she were truly dangerous, or really impossible, it would be very easy to go "screw this I am out of here." I have a lot of things I need to be responsible about - other people, animals, clients, and the like that all rely on me to be there every day - so I'm not keen to get myself into anything truly dangerous. If her behavior ever got to that point, it would be an easy choice. Or if she were physically limited, or horribly untalented, or mean, or any of those other deal breakers - those are easy choices to make. But it's not that simple. She is sound as a dollar (knock on wood), sufficiently talented, extremely sensible in her own right, and adorably sweet to deal with on the ground. She's just... extremely, highly, severely opinionated about certain things, and it makes trying to accomplish my human goals very hard.
I pouted and grumped and moaned and groaned about for the past few days, as I felt was warranted. I fed and groomed the beasts, I loved on them for a bit, and then I left them alone while I left the property and let my human emotions consume me for a little while. I worked, and I napped, and I complained for awhile. I watched the marathon and cones from Live Oak on the USEF Network. I felt slightly better seeing just how many of the spicy FEI driving horses were so buzzed that they had a hard time holding still. I felt even better watching some of them be outright stupid too, rearing and kicking - a fair enough number of them. I received a whole lot of messages and comments about my last post offering up advice and encouragement, a lot of people going on about how their horses are just as goofy and weird as mine, or how their trainer has an upper level horse who is just as hot and difficult, and I felt better still, but still waivered around on the cusp of feeling bad. Then I opened the mail, and found a packet from the American Driving Society, which I had just joined a week ago. It was my membership card, along with some other papers, and a sticker and a pin. The little blue and gold pin slid out of the envelope to rest on the counter, and I looked at it. And I thought about how much hard work I've put in over the last eight months turning my nutty little red creature into a driving horse, doing all of the work myself when I started out knowing almost nothing about the sport. How many hours, how much learning, how much money and time and effort I have poured into this, and just how far O - who still really would be considered quite green by driving horse standards - has come.
And I scooped up that little pin, marched off to the closet, and stuck it on my show coat. No, damnit, NO, I said to myself. I am not giving up now. We have come this far. We are not quitting because one stupid bad drive got to me. NO.
I talked it solidly over with O this morning over her breakfast. She looked at me like, "whatever you say lady," and kept on eating. I know it's in my head, but sometimes I feel like when I talk candidly to O, she understands the general feeling behind the words.
Unfortunately, as my life in general is a giant comedy of errors, all of this has gone down RIGHT before Sunrise Ridge. It couldn't have happened in January, or even just a month ago... no, it had to happen less than three weeks before the first show of the season. The one we've been counting down to. The one I've really been looking forward to. Our first HDT. And suddenly I find myself unable to drive, because my harness is broken into a bunch of pieces. On closer inspection of the harness, those are not the only parts I need to replace either, if I am going to really and truly be out safely driving. The entire thing is ancient. Lovely, wonderful for what it is, but ancient and about to kick the bucket. I am LOVING driving, having a total blast doing it, and absolutely see myself continuing this sport even if O doesn't end up having a lifelong career in it. Therefore, I decided that it was time to go ahead and invest in a new harness.
I'll do another post with details when I have it in my hands - which I hope is extremely soon. The retailer promised to have it to me as quickly as possible, and they are local so I am hoping for a quick turnaround. The customer service is awesome with this company, and if anything doesn't work or fit just right I can bring it straight back and exchange it for something that does. The harness is not outrageously expensive but I am still going to be able to make payments - which is SUPER helpful when you have taxes to pay and you weren't exactly budgeting for a brand new harness just yet!! I was originally planning on upgrading at the end of the season, to try and get a season out of my old harness but obviously it just didn't pan out that way. The harness is also all synthetic - which was a huge step for this leather lover to take. I have seen these harnesses in person, and you can't tell they are synthetic, even up close. They are very, very nice, and you can stick them in your dishwasher right before a show and voila! Beautiful. With a sweaty, sweaty horse like O, all you have to do after a drive is hose it down. I am ALL about shiny, soft, supple, beautiful, traditional leather, and shiny, shiny, shiny, shiny brass, but let's face it... harness takes an eternity to clean properly. 45 minutes for a light cleaning, several hours for a thorough cleaning with a brass polish. Ain't nobody got time for that.
The other thing about this harness is that it has stainless hardware. Stainless is a really good investment for me, as my hope is to do majority CDEs/HDTs instead of pleasure shows, and it will go better with a marathon vehicle should I ever end up with one AND require a million times less maintenance. But you know what that means... yep, all the brass I just ordered for my cart needs to go back. Luckily the lady I ordered it from is happy to exchange for chrome instead, although she is probably quite tired of me by this point! Can't say enough about the customer service from both places, and will highly recommend them to whoever asks - Iowa Valley Carriage and Chimacum Tack. I'm getting all the brass back in the mail tomorrow, and will hopefully have the chrome back in my hands shortly!
This total mad scramble is, of course, happening right before a show... AND Pmare is fast closing in on her due date. ALL at the same time!
Speaking of which, P has officially reached the coveted day 320 mark. This means she is officially past the premature mark - anything born before day 320 is considered premature. She's still *barely* on the cusp of it of course, but I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief, and now just sit back and relax and wait! All of my foaling supplies are gathered, I picked up some straw today, and now I am ready to just kick back and wait. She'll have it outside if the weather is nice, and inside if not. She has stalled out progress wise over the past few days - everything has stayed the same, udder size included, although I do think she has slowed down slightly and is moving with more care.
Whenever you're ready, we're ready, Pmare!