Yesterday afternoon came and went without a call from the vet about Mystery Horse’s PPE, alas. My nerves had reached fever pitch by the time my ex-trainer, at whose barn near Montreal the horse lives, texted to say the vet had been waylaid by an emergency call and would have to reschedule for today.
I went to the barn and ended up taking a lesson, if for no other reason than to stop me stewing over the impending vet check, ha. As Trainers M&L are still away at a horse show, they’ve brought in someone else to teach: Schmoodle’s owner, H! H is about my age and is trying to make it as a professional in the industry – she had a very cool job riding young horses for a well-known breeder and GP rider in the Midwest before immigration visa issues sent her back to Canada. I had met her years ago when she was still showing Schmoodle (I even still have her on Facebook) but hadn’t crossed paths with her since.
At first it kind of made me anxious to be riding her horse in front of her: she had loads of success with him when she was younger, and has since moved on to jumping big Grand Prixes, attending Young Riders, and generally eclipsing my own talent and experience by a huge margin. But I needn’t have worried. First off, she’s really friendly; second, she knows Schmoodle’s full range of silliness intimately (“This horse sent me to the hospital so many times,” she said fondly the first time we rode with her); and third, Schmoodle and I acquitted ourselves well in both our lessons with her.
When I first brought him in from the field last week and she recognized him, I was kind of shocked by how cavalierly she talked about him, in the vein of: ‘This horse is unsellable, I keep telling my parents it’s only good for glue! Hahaha!’ – but by last night she was stuffing him with treats and had revived a trick she had taught him years ago, whereby you stand in front of him and make kissy noises and he bops you with his nose. CUTE. He definitely remembers her!
It was weird how my feelings about Schmoodle have changed quite drastically now that Mystery Horse is firmly on my radar. I felt almost mournful getting him ready yesterday, because my focus is definitely elsewhere. He had a couple of little scrapes from the field: I doctored them, obviously, but I didn’t obsess over ensuring the hair would grow back in perfectly like I would have as recently as last week. Likewise, we rode inside and were set a tricky exercise of poles:
We did the exercise with the fives very smoothly, but the fours were a struggle, especially to the right: I really had to ride every stride and it felt quite rushed (there were also some undesired lead swaps.) But it rolled off my back in a way it wouldn’t have when Schmoodle was the container of all my horsey aspirations.
Walking him back to his field, I admired how handsome he was, with the first signs of his rich black winter coat coming in, and his sweet kind eye. Whether I end up embarking on my horse ownership adventure now (!!!) or at a later date, I’ll look back on my friendship with Schmoodle with enormous fondness.