It's All About Perspective

I purchased my little mare, Callie, knowing that she came from a jumper background, but also knowing that she had stepped into many different rings (hunters, dressage) willingly, and that she had an excellent brain and a can-do attitude. I spent the Spring and Summer trying to slow her rhythm down and build her strength so that she could settle into her new job as Hunter, and while we made excellent progress, in early October I came to the decision that she might not ever "slow down" enough to be the dedicated Adult Amateur horse I thought she might be. So with that in mind, my trainer Liz and I went about trying to market her as a good "All Around" horse for a kid or small lady like myself.

Fancy Callie
What followed, rather than a clear A-B-C path to getting Callie into a new home and getting a new young hunter prospect for myself, was a revelation about my own expectations and about my horse.

I posted Callie on various Facebook groups and several horse ad websites. I listed her as a "first horse for a good riding kid." Said she could do just about anything. My trainer and I made a video of one of her junior riders bopping around (it was adorable), I made some edits of our better lessons at larger heights and a show video, took some pictures, and waited for the response.

It didn't take long for us to start lining up some trials. Most of them were from kids 10-14 years old, ranging from beginner intermediate to intermediate. Some came with their trainers, all came with their parents, one we even shipped her an hour away due to conflicts on the other end.

And every time, the same pattern of events played out. There she was, my little wide eyed mare on the crossties looking happy and adorable, and the "ooooos" and "aaaaahs" about how pretty/cute/adorable she was came pouring out. Which made me think to myself, "Yes, she is really adorable/pretty/cute isn't she?" She was always a doll getting groomed and tacked up. She always willingly walked out to the ring, even though our conditions in Colorado have been less than stellar this October.

When I got on first to show her, I internalized our dramatic progress - how light and fun she was now - in a new way - or maybe a renewed way. Her canter was balanced and buttery, her trot forward and framed, her jumps slow and her lead changes there (her lead changes there!). Sometimes she had a little head shake due to the chilly temps, but all four feet stayed on the ground at all times.

I always got off thinking, "Wow, I really do like this little horse."

Then, when the next person got on, the person who was trying her, I saw different things. I saw the holes that she still had in her training (walking on contact being a biggie). I saw her kind eye always trying to figure out what her rider wanted, even when she wasn't always correct. I saw her cute jump and lovely trot. I saw that she wasn't quite the "first horse" that I imagined she could be as her young riders had trouble keeping her slow or balanced, but I also saw how much more potential could be unlocked.

On the trial where we shipped her over, after the trainer there decided (rightly so) that Callie was just a bit too much horse for her small young client, she looked at me and said, "Why on earth are you selling her? She's lovely!" to which Liz busted out laughing and said, "That's what I've been trying to tell her!"

That pretty much sealed the deal for me. I cancelled the remaining trials, pulled down her ads (and my ISO ads), and decided to keep my little mare after all.

What I learned, and what Callie taught me through both riding her and watching her being ridden, is that it takes perspective sometimes to both appreciate what you have, and to see it in a more realistic light. She can maybe still be what I want her to be, and even if not, she still needs further development to be a rideable horse for more than just talented kids and amateurs. If I don't end up keeping her forever, I still have a responsibility to make her the absolute best horse she can be so that she'll be useful and valuable to whoever has her next, regardless of their skill or ability.

The work isn't done. I'm grateful for Liz to put up with all of the hassle of listing her just so I could see that the work isn't done. I'm grateful for Callie to give me the feedback I needed to tell me the work isn't done.

Perspective is one thing that horses can always give us if we let them.



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