"You must in all Airs follow the strength, spirit, and disposition of the horse, and do nothing against nature; for art is but to set nature in order, and nothing else." ~ William Cavendish
It took me all of about two weeks to realize how good me and Finn had it at our old barn. There is nothing wrong with our current barn but pretty much since I've gotten there I've felt like we don't belong. We don't belong with the owner/barn manager, and her very young lesson kids, and although I've enjoyed working with the hunter jumper trainer a lot, and riding Ben, I know Finn would not mesh with her super intense program at all.
The past few weeks I've thought a lot, probably a little too much, about what is best for my horse, and myself. Two weeks ago I had a jumping lesson on Ben. The jumps were set at 2'9, and I probably haven't jumped 2'9 in 10 years. There was an oxer set at 2'9, with a pretty decent spread, that gave me the hardest time. Ben sensed my nerves, and jumped awkwardly the whole lesson, because I was basically in fetal position the entire time. For some reason, to me, the gap between 2'6 and 2'9 jumps seems VERY significant. I left the lesson upset, not confident, and kind of...hating jumping. The next week, because it was raining and I had to ride indoors, I basically had a flat lesson, with some gymnastics at the end. AND IT WAS FUN!
It suddenly clicked. I love flatwork. I like cross rails, and gymnastics, and cavaletti, but raise those jumps up to 2'9 and ask me to jump a course, and I just freeze. Then I started to feel guilty because I realized I didn't want to, or like to, jump. But that's crazy, because this is a hobby, and it's supposed to be fun, and why would I jump if I didn't enjoy it?!
In between lessons with Ben I've been walking and trotting Finn. He feels wonderful, is soft, responsive, light, and using his back/hind end better than he ever has. It is strange to get back on Finn after riding Ben so much. Ben is tight, stiff, and has a very heavy mouth. I want a horse that uses his body correctly, understands and likes his job, and stays comfortable and sound for many, many years.
The big news is.... we are moving back to our old barn September 1st. Crazy right?! We are going to go back to working with the dressage trainer there that we were progressing with before we moved. She will take us to shows when we're ready. I will still pop over the occasional jump, but more than anything, I want Finn to be comfortable using his body correctly. If anything were to happen to him again, the price is practically reflective of retirement boarding, and I know he'd be safe and cared for even if I couldn't visit him for a week or more.
I have looked at other barns in the area and nothing compares to the care, amenities, and super individualized care of our old barn. For the price, it doesn't get any better. I am paying a whole lot more for fewer amenities now, than I was to have him further from home. I feel like the people at our old barn are family, and we fit there. I will never complain about the drive again!!