Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fate Takes an Unexpected Turn

I apologize for the length of this post, but there's a lot of ground to cover, and it just won't work to split it into two posts.

After much soul searching, I made a major decision this weekend: to put Poco up for sale. You all know how I feel about the big lug, so I suspect I have your attention.

Although Poco and I have come a long way, he needs a much stronger and more capable rider than I am (and possibly will ever be) to bring out the best in him. It's not that I lack confidence in my ability, and I certainly strive to improve my skills, but I also have to be realistic. I will be 59 years old in May. I did not ride as a child, didn't grow up around horses. I naively bought Poco as my first horse in 2006. I am basically a weekend warrior, which means that I don't really get to ride enough to make dramatic improvements in the short term.

Poco is not a lesson horse, but that's how I've been using him. He has tolerated me on his back, but the last couple times I've ridden him, it's obvious he's whatever the equine equivalent is to bored and frustrated. You all know what I'm talking about when I say that I could feel him about to explode under me.  It's been the grace of God and the bond we've built on the ground over the last five years that he hasn't purposefully ejected me.

And yet, if I take him down the road with Jaz on walkabout, he has always been perfect. As long as he's not the point horse, he is intrepid and will willingly do things that Jaz won't, like descend a (relatively) steep ravine, cross water, etc. Forget trying to get him out by himself. I've worked on the buddy-boundness as much as I am able, but again, it's the whole weekend warrior thing. He's already latched onto one of Heather's client horses, Cruz, since he's been up at Iron Ridge. Unfortunately, I don't always have the luxury of having another rider for our excursions, and our road is not a safe place to pony another horse.

I take 100% credit for Poco's impeccable ground manners, because when he came here, he had NONE. I'm proud of that, and grateful to have learned that I have a strength in that area. My instincts are best on the ground. Poco will do anything for me on the ground. He'll stand tied for hours and let me do anything I want. He loads on the first try. He's still a tad bit heavy-footed, but he does pick up his feet willingly. He doesn't crib, bite, or kick. Both times I've come off him, it's been because he was scared and I was unable to ride us out of it, which a more experienced rider may have been able to do. I have to work really hard in the saddle; it does not come easily to me.

All you have to do is read on Heather's blog what she has been able to get out of Poco, and it's obvious that the difficulties I have with him stem from my lack of ability, not his. I have to step up and say that this is as far as I can go with him, given the fact that I still have to work full time, and am not able to ride any more than I currently do to rise to this occasion.

Now, Poco and Heather have a love-hate relationship. She has his number and can make that horse do INCREDIBLE things. He hates that. And yet, he loves the challenge. He is thriving. I wish you could see how good he looks.

Poco actually has a lot of good qualities. He is completely sound and tough as nails. He has good feet and is very sure-footed. He has stamina to spare. You can't wear him out; you will just make him stronger. Although only 14.2hh, he is well able to carry a larger rider.

He's smart. I was goofing around with Jaz one evening after he'd finished his food. I taught him to touch and bump a ball using clicker training. Poco was sticking his nose in my pockets, trying to get the treats. I stepped away from them both to give Daltrey some more food, and I see Poco push his way in front of Jaz and start pushing the ball around, like, "So, how does this work? Where are my cookies?"

And I have learned so much from Poco. I knew nothing of the true nature of horses until I got him. I had to step up at every turn because of that crazy-ass, psycho gelding. He has played the pivotal role in how far I've been able to come.

I made the decision to put him up for sale, not expecting that anyone would buy him. And that's fine, because I committed that he has a home with me until death do us part. He is not one of those horses that pines away when he's not being used, though that's not really what I wanted for him. On those occasions when someone would come over, I loved being able to take him down the road. But, unlike Jaz, he's not a horse that you can not ride for a couple months then just jump on.

If the right circumstance were to present itself, I decided that I would not hold him back from being all that he can be.

That opportunity presented itself most unexpectedly.

When I told Heather of my decision, almost immediately, she suggested a trade: Poco for the remainder of what I owe on Daltrey. I was not expecting that AT ALL.

I heard myself say "done."

Over the last few weeks, I've felt Poco and I detaching from each other. I can't explain it. I have been troubled, and perhaps he has sensed that. When I went up there today to give him a spa day, uncharacteristically, he didn't want to be caught. I won, of course, but the point is: he is already her horse, and has been for weeks.

I'd be a liar if I said it wasn't bittersweet. Poco (or Poko, as he will now be known) was my first horse. My love for that beast made me weak in my knees, and probably always will. I am grateful that he is in a situation where he will be worked to the full extent of his potential by a kind, experienced rider and trainer. I am also grateful that I will still be able to see him, love on him, and ride him whenever I want.

I'd also be a liar if I said I wasn't excited. I very much like the new dynamic here with just Jaz and Daltrey. I had a fantastic ride on Jaz yesterday. I was able to concentrate on my riding rather than simply controlling my horse. My experience with Jaz has been that when I'm ready, he'll take us to the next level.

What a weekend it has been.  So far, I haven't cried. Maybe that's because it hasn't really sunk in yet. Maybe it's because I constantly affirm that all is exactly as it should be. I feel like I've grown up, in a way, because I was able to set my emotions aside and make a decision based on what was best for both of us.

And life goes on.


Cathy said...

Ob la di ob la da. My thoughts are with you as you traverse this road.

aurora said...

Wow, what a surprise. Kudos to you, for being so realistic and making a hard decision. It's nice that you know Poco's new owner so well, and will be able to see & ride him, as you continue on your horse journey.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Kudos to you Leah!

I wished more people could understand that often selling a horse that they just don't click with is not just good for them, it's often good for the horse.

You improved Poco (Poko) a lot while you had him and that was good for him and good experience for you and that is a lot more than most people can say.

I don't think you have anything to cry about. Poko is with someone you know, respect and like. You know he will be well taken care of and given the chance to see how far he can go. In return, you are debt free on Baby D...and we can all tell how much you like him. ;-)

Mrs. Mom said...

Rock on Leah-- or Ride on. Just like people, there are horses that come into our lives to teach us. Some come to stay for short term, some for long, some for life. Poko did wonders with you and you with him.

Onto Grand Adventures with Jaz and Baby B!!

Big hugs

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

That sounds like it went amazingly smooth. Sure, you'll probably have separation anxiety at some point, but you're feeling good about it now.

Anonymous said...

Just came over from Heather's blog - sounds like a great decision for both of you - good for you for realizing that there were options for both you and Poco.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Had to trot on over after you left that intriguing comment on my post. Yes, it does seem like our paths are traveling a similar course.
I suspect you haven't cried any tears yet is probably because you have the very lucky benefit of being able to still see and spend time with Poco...Poko whenever you want. What a treasure that is.
I still get sad sometimes thinking about Baby Doll. I still miss her some days. We were very close on the ground and had a special connection. But like Poko, she needed someone more experienced than me. She didn't have the patience to be a lesson horse. She wanted to be ridden like she wanted to be ridden...with a purpose. As a beginner, my only purpose was trying to stay off the ground and in the saddle while enjoying a nice ride now and then.
I've learned oh, so much since then.
Sometimes I wish I could buy her back, even if just to enjoy her beauty and her nickers to me whenever she saw me. But I'd also like to know if my abilities have changed any...and if she could recognize that at all.
But realistically, I know that she is still too headstrong, spooky and moves too quickly for me to ride safely.

It's never easy, though. It's a door closing....and end to a dream, made especially difficult because these beasts were our first horses.

Isn't it amazing how we be so attached to and can love so deeply these powerful, exasperating, and oftentimes, very dangerous creatures?

Blows my mind.


Leah Fry said...

Your comments of support are very much appreciated.

Lisa, you so nailed it.

cdncowgirl said...

I was surprised but not surprised to read this... make sense?

I'm glad that you are able to let go of Poco. You may cry yet but you may not. I went through a similar mix of emotion yet detachment when I sold Quin. I still kinda miss the bugger and the potential for all that was there but not realized.
However knowing that he is happy and adored in his new home made it easier.

Poco had a good life with you, you did a lot for him and he did a lot for you. Poko will have a good life in his new home. :)

Cactus Jack Splash said...

A tough decision, but it sounds like the right one all the way around.
Poco will continue to learn and grow and so will you. Both of you in the best circumstances possible.

AareneX said...

I'm proud of you AND proud of the Pokomon--you have both figured out where you need to go next. And that ain't easy (this would be the voice of experience, yep yep).

I rode a horse for 8 years and although he was a darling boy whom I loved dearly, I was never able to trust him completely. He didn't have a single mean bone in his body, but he had a LOT of dorky bones...and at some point, his goofiness was gonna get me hurt.

Fortunately for both of us, Fate intervened, and I had gained reason (a Gigantic reason, if you know what I mean!)to give him back to his owner with my thanks.

If you can look back at your time with Poko and thank him, I think you are probably where you want to be. At least, I hope so.

Best wishes. I know Baby D is going to be happy to have you and Jaz all to himself now!

lytha said...

i cannot believe it. i was just thinking about poco the other day when i saw a rockstar hairdo icelandic.

i'm so impressed that you analyzed the situation and did the practical thing, which will work out best for everyone.

that you can visit him whenever you like is wonderful.

that "perfect ride" on poco may still be in your future. for now you can just relax and enjoy.

the7msn said...

Doing right by your horse is always the right thing to do, and you had the courage to admit to what was right for Poco. And besides, when fate opens the door, it's best to walk on through.

Laura said...

As much as it is a bit sad to hear that you sold him - it is also good to hear how much you learned from him and that you know he will have excellent care at Heather's place.

This horse stuff is tough sometimes and we all have to make decisions that aren't easy, but are the right thing to do in the end.

Dreaming said...

I know you did a lot of soul searching. It is hard to admit that a horse isn't 'right' for you. But, how smart of you to recognize it and to recognize that you can't take Poco where he needs to go and where he will be happiest. What an unselfish decision. And...what an incredible turn of events! Win - win, I say!

CTG Ponies said...

Wow, that's a huge decision to make but it sounds like a good one. Sometimes things fall into place so quickly because it's the right thing.

Crystal said...

Wow thats a tough decision to make, although it sounds like the right one. Nice that you can still see him and ride him if you want to. I think you will have many nice rides on Jazz and eventually Baby D as well. Maybe you won't be as frusterated either, and neither will Poco.

Unknown said...

You gave him a wonderful gift - the right owner. I did the same with Cibolo. He is so much happier.

Sometimes we're the woman they are waiting for, sometime we're the ticket taker to get them to the next station. Fortunately you taught him some manners on the way.

You rock.

manymisadventures said...

In a lot of ways, that's how I felt when I decided to put Pandora up for sale - she is a wonderful, lovely horse, but just not the right fit for me. I haven't regretted it one bit. She is in the most perfect situation possible with her new owner and is thriving, and her new owner loves her to pieces.

I'm betting that is what's going to happen with Poco. And I am SO excited for you to have fun with your new sounds like you already are!

Desert Rose said...

We don't always have perfect harmony with the horses we love but the brave ones act on it when it fianally come to light. knowing poco will be in a good home is the best you can ask for...good luck to you!

Rising Rainbow said...

I am with cdncowgirl in the surprised but not surprised thing. This makes perfect sense to me doing what is best for you and best for your horse. That's the way it should be. Kudos to you for making a difficult decision.

The way it all came about sounds to me like it was meant to be. Too bad other changes in life aren't as simple.

As for tears, who knows, maybe there won't be any. Sometimes changes we make in life are so right for us, tears are not necessary. Only time will tell about that but if there are none, don't worry about it. It's ok either way.

Sherry Sikstrom said...

Hugs, as you said on Heathers blog, not easy but the right thing for you and Poko(Poco) ANd cool that he won't be far away

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