I currently lease an almost 20-year-old gelding. He's a good boy, loves his job, but he is older and sometimes it shows in how he feels. We do our best with maintenance and care to keep him feeling good, he gets time on the theraplate often and regularly gets magnawaved by my trainer and I. This past weekend we went to a show and I was reminded of how old he truly is.
Traveling in style
When I got to the show, I was entered in a normal load of classes. The amateur sporthorse undersaddle, the hunter hack, the adult amateur equitation (flat and over fences) and two hunter divisions (2'3 and 2'6). On Saturday morning, though, one of our ponies collapsed and I let the little girl take Tyson into her undersaddle, equitation, and crossrails. By the time I was on my last course for the 2'3, Tyson was tired and I could feel it. I scratched from the 2'6 hunters to allow him a rest before the equitation over fences. I had been looking forward to the 2'6 hunters, but Tyson's health comes first. On Sunday, he was shown again by both of us, and again I had to scratch the 2'6 hunters along with the equitation because of how tired he was.
Tyson and I at this show last year
The younger girls had all moved up to the 2'6 on Sunday.
I felt ashamed. I knew, logically, I shouldn't feel ashamed. I was making the right, adult decision for my horse. But I felt like I was lesser-than for staying in the lower division. I felt judged -- and I'm fairly sure I was. I felt like a wimp, that maybe the others just thought I was using it as an excuse to get out of having to do it.
Our first time doing the 2'6 eq last year.
But I should not feel bad, and nobody should ever feel bad, for making a decision like that. It was the right decision -- my horse comes first, and will always come first.
It has taken a few days to get over being disappointed in myself for not doing the higher division. But even after a few days off and all the therapies, Tyson is still a little sore and tired, helping me come to terms with the correct decision I had made this past weekend. I should have never doubted myself about scratching, and I learned a valuable lesson in not caring what others think and instead caring about Tyson's health.