New Year. New Food. New Attitude.
With the start of 2019 came the start of Jean-Luc’s “curriculum modification.”
Several things have happened to really kick my tail in gear:
1. I am eating healthier than ever and because of this . . .
2. Jean-Luc is also on a new diet – Omolene 200 Performance Concentrate Horse Feed | Purina. When Tractor Supply gets the senior version of this in we will switch that. Jean-Luc has completed a little over 10 days (about how long a bag lasts), and for the first time since we’ve been together, I am starting to feel hind end muscle development – most noticeably on our snowy ride last Sunday.
3. Completed 2 rides in the pouring snow.
4. We completed one 12 mile ride where we trot/paced/ cantered for at least 8 miles and (barely) managed to keep an average speed of 5 mph.
5. We survived 0-degree weather – an accomplishment in and of itself.
6. Joined the HRN 2019 Winter Challenge – This shouldn’t be too difficult. The goal is to complete 40 hours of horsemanship, with 30 rides in by the end of March 2019.
My goals for this week include:
1. Complete 10 hill exercise in one day
2. Work on the hill 3 days this week.
3. Complete at least 8 miles in one day
4. Continue feed schedule
Today is already Tuesday, and we’ve got a big week ahead – fingers crossed we can get it all in.
“I’m going to sell you!”
Yes. Everyone has been that upset at one point or another with their critters – say otherwise and you’re lying. However, I went there. I was so “over it” with Jean-Luc that I actually was ready to let him go.
“What? How on earth did you get there?” – the question most people ask when I put him up for sale.
“But, you love him,” they would say.
Of course, I love him! We’ve spent at least three to five days a week together since May of 2017. How could I not? That said, I was also tired of riding something that made my crotch feel like it was on fire after a while. I was tired of trying to teach a horse to gait, that paced. I was tired of trying to build a top line. I was tired of working with a horse I felt cared more about being with others horses rather than me. I was tired, just plain tired.
Around November I made the mistake of riding something I’m very familiar with – a good ole Quarter Horse. The horse left the barn without much fuss, moved out like a proper gentleman, stopped when I asked and stood as long as I asked, and even cantered a smooth lovely “da da dump” that any Jo Shmoh could sit. It was perfect! I wanted that! How on earth did I end up with the opposite of all of that!
So, around November, I lost most of my motivation to work with Jean-Luc. “He is what he is,” I thought. “He’s coming fifteen, I can’t change things like his gait, or temperament. It just isn’t going to happen.”
I also had a ton going on in my personal life from traveling to Ireland to some serious family drama to being overloaded with “teacher classes” I have to take to keep my job, to getting the flu or some other unknown sickness found in this Pitre dish known as “Public School.” I barely made it to the barn three times a week.
Jean-Luc was rather enjoying hanging in the pasture doing nothing. In fact, it’s when I realized he just sees me as “work.”
“When that lady comes around, she makes me do stuff. I don’t want to do stuff,” I’m sure he thought. “So I better be a total turd.”
Long story longer, on January 3, 2019, amidst New Year Resolutions and what I assumed was level-headed thinking, I wrote an ad to sell Jean-Luc. Yup – there it is. I said it. “This is the right thing to do,” I thought. “There are too many “good ones” out there to hold onto a “bad one,” many people counseled me.
Before I knew it, I posted an ad in five or some places and told the world. Within twelve hours I had six phone calls, countless messages or emails, and two appointments to show Jean-Luc to his new owners.
“Wow,” I thought. “This could be it.” I could have a new horse in the barn before the end of the month, and I could get rid of something I just don’t want.
The following day after posting the ad, I met a woman who flew to Virginia (from Florida) to look at some horses. She was disappointed, but her trainer saw my ad and after speaking, she was convinced that it was worth the three-hour trek into West Virginia for her to come to see my horse.
We met up, and I drove her right out to the barn around 11:30 AM on a Saturday. She was perfect. If Jean-Luc were to have another owner, I wanted it to be someone like this lady – She might take better care of him that I am! And he’d get to live in warm sunny Florida.
I let her do whatever she wanted with him. I could tell she was educated and know Jean-Luc well enough to know that his ground manners a solid. She caught him in the field and was genuinely impressed.
“You’re welcome,” I thought haughtily. “You should have seen him when I brought him home,” I kept to myself.
The only words that did come out of my mouth at this point were, “This horse saved my life.”
“Weird,” I thought. “I hadn’t meant to say that.” Also, that statement just hit me like a truth bomb. It was making me wildly emotional. I needed to suck it up, though. This was going to be an emotional processes - let it go.
“He came to me when I wasn’t in the best place. My work/home life was struggling and I needed something to focus on. He gave me that,” I told her.
“Why am I saying this to this person?” I thought. “She doesn’t care, nor need to know. Shut up. Just shut up!”
I showed her my habits – ground tie practice, feeding regiment, etc. Then, like any serious buyer, she asked if we could take him in a round pen.
“Sure, follow me,” I told her and tossed her Lukie’s lead rope without care. He followed along like the joyful puppy I know him to be. "Good boy!" I thought.
In the round pen, she did a typical warm up and she could see his “skills.” He started out great, then, something happened. I’ve never seen this before, but I’ve also never been the primary person to work with a horse before Jean-Luc. This new lady would tell him to complete a task, and before attempting it, he would look to me for a nod of approval. Only after reassuring him would he work for her – true story.
It got to the point where I told her, “I am going to turn around. Do whatever you wish. If you need help with a cue or are curious about one just ask, but I don’t want to look at him or distract him.”
“That was hard,” I thought.
Eventually, the time came to throw a saddle on and head out. Several distractions happened in between and Lukie was a solid doll the entire time. Literally, someone was practicing with a muzzle-loader off in the distances. If you’ve never heard one, just know they’re loud.
“Wow! Your horses are literally bomb proof,” she said.
“You could say that,” I told her.
Together we headed out on two horses and she seemed to really be enjoying herself. She was incredibly complimentary of how beautiful our “facility” was and how well behaved our horses were. Periodically, this possible owner would stop and ask me to take a photo of her and her Lukie, too.
“Great, buddy. She really likes you,” I thought. I knew they would be a happy pair, and that did give me comfort.
Eventually, she asked if he would gait. My biggest downfall to selling this horse, WILL HE GAIT!?
I warned her about the fact that he was pacey and that I’d taught him what gait he knows. I explained that he would do it, but you had to work into it.
She went off to try, and in true Jean-Luc fashion, he paced. He paced, and paced, and paced. Then, working from the walk up, she actually created a (false) sense of roundness and got him into a gait.
“Well I’ll be damned,” I thought. Look at that. I wasn’t the best but was definitely something.
“Maybe there is something more there?” I wondered to myself.
Soon the ride ended, and we said our goodbyes. She was pleased, but I didn’t ask her right there if she wanted him. I didn’t want to put any pressure on it. I wanted Jean-Luc to only go with the right person.
Evening came and I fielded several more calls and queries about Jean-Luc. Finally, one caught my eye.
“Why are you selling him? He’s perfect! You shouldn’t sell him,” someone commented on one of the Facebook posts I’d made.
“I don’t know you from Adam,” I thought. “Who are you to tell me what to do with my horse?” However, this lady had completely suckered me in.
We started a little thread that eventually leads into a private message and her saying she’d meet me on an LD Endurance Ride (that happens to be sponsored by my riding club) if I wished to “try a new sport,” and keep him. She also rides a Tennessee Walking Horse, and they’re a 20-year team.
“He’s a gem,” she said. “And I can tell. You need to keep that horse.”
“Who is this woman?” I thought.
Then, there it was – mini-meltdown. “Am I doing the right thing?” I wondered. “Should I keep him? He was brilliant today. I have never wanted to do endurance, but I was also nearly 30 lbs heavier when I made that decision. People have always thought Jean-Luc would do well at endurance. Could we really do this? Those people are crazy!”
Later that night my husband knew I was losing my mind. “Don’t sell that horse,” he finally said. “I mean you can do what you want, but I think it would be a big mistake. I’ll ride him if you’ll let me, and you can get another one – if that’s what you really want,” he said.
“WHAT!? THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING.”
We continued to chat throughout the evening, and I told him I would think about it. After all, how could people think I would make a decision as big as this without being 100% sure about it?!
1:30 AM – I shot straight up in bed and took down every ad I’d previously placed online.
The following morning I still wasn’t sure what to do until, like with most things, I talked to my mom. I shared with her how I was feeling, what I’d been going through, all the people that had come out of the woodwork to tell me to keep him, and then, completely without warning – TEARS! I don’t cry for much these days. This was entirely unexpected.
“You can’t sell that horse,” she told me. “He’s a part of you.” And that was it. Through blurry eyes, and a red face I decided Jean-Luc would be with me for life – good or bad. We were just going to have to try a new sport, a sport I swore I never would do, but also swore Jean-Luc would likely be good at – Endurance.
At work, I told my co-workers my decision. They immediately laughed.
“What’s so funny?” I asked.
“We knew you couldn’t sell him,” one told me. “You’re a special education teacher. It’s in your job description to not “give up” on a learner. You’re just going to modify the curriculum to something that suits his needs.”
I hate them. No, but in all seriousness, they’re completely right. That’s exactly what I’m about to do!
Since deciding to keep this guy, I’ve re-fallen in love with him, found an even deeper level of patience, and realized the reason my crotch hurt so bad was that I actually have NEVER sat properly on a horse! Who knew? I’ve changed my seat (huge help for both of us), researched affordable supplement/grain options to get Jean-Luc through this cold and come out better on the other side, rode a total 6 miles in bitter cold and snow, changed my mindset of what I think Endurance Riding is, listened in on a Green Bean Endurance talk for newbies and no-Arabs, and committed to a moderate 12-mile “training” ride this Sunday with a local guru. My dear life and horse guru Liz has also been nothing but supportive in helping us determine training schedules, trimming and hoof care and nutrition.
I don’t know what the hell I’ve got myself into, but I do appreciate the support of the Endurance community. It already feels like I’ve found new, extremely supportive resources. I am also trying to keep this as realistic as possible. Though I believe Jean-Luc may like this sport, he could be terrible for it? We’ve never tried, but that is the first step – try.
So yes, I’m embarrassed by my fickle nature. No, I’m still not entirely sure I can commit to this new sport. But keeping Lukie and trying does feel better than throwing in the towel and giving up. So, stay tuned for more. A wild new chapter is about to begin.
My name is Chelsey.
Generator's Cuevo Gold, or as he's known around this barn, "Jean-Luc Ponycard", was foaled in 2004 from Generator's Hurricane & Cheyenne's Little Bit.
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