Canter & Candor

Canter and Candor; an honest account of an amateur equestrian and her life with an OTTB

Ambition & Doubt in Baby Horsedom


I’ll preface this post by saying I have never considered C to be anything but the best purchase I’ve made in my entire life. Solid financial decision, perhaps not, but he is an incredible horse and I’m a lucky girl. I’ll never wish things went differently because he’s taken my expectations and surpassed them, and I am so excited for our future.


When I was 16, I wanted to do the 4′ jumpers– minimum. Maybe not at that precise moment, but it’s what I was working towards, and I was ready to work hard for it. For a while, I got closer, and then things sort of came crashing down. I’ve always been a competitive person, and I haven’t lost the ambition to not just succeed, but exceed, in the sport I’m passionate about.

shojumping gif

this was the dream. literally soaring.

So when I told T I wanted to start looking for a horse, I mentioned looking for a 6-year-old would be ideal, and green was okay– I didn’t mind growing and learning with the horse. Well, one thing led to another, and C ended up coming into my life. I have no doubt that in a couple years, maybe three, he’ll be an extraordinarily athletic and capable horse and I’ll be able to do the things I’ve always wanted to on him, and beyond all that, we’ll have a good partnership. I hope I’ll know him inside and out by then.

Until then, in those two or three years– which seems so far away right now– it’s going to be a lot of awkward bumbling and crossrails and probably (on my part, because I’m a crybaby) lots of tears EG: Dressage Show. And it’s not necessarily because I can do those big things right now and C’s age is holding me back, because I can’t. It’s more than I can’t work towards it as I did when I was 16, because I’m on a green horse timeline now.

Yes, I want to do prelim one day, possibly even beyond that if I really whip myself into shape. Big jumps don’t scare me, and they never really have. Of course, when I’m on C I’ll stare at a massive trakehner and say “Holy sh** we would die” but honestly? If someone threw me on a schoolmaster and said go do training, having never done it before, I’d do it (never mind self preservation) because I am that stupidly ambitious and I want to be better. And all that, because that’s where I want to be, one day. I keep repeating to myself there’s no hurry– and there isn’t, for C, because I definitely don’t plan on breaking him in a mad rush through the levels. But I do worry about my ability to learn, get fit, and also that fearlessness (which I think is required for anything mid- upper level) going away. I’ve read up a lot about people losing confidence over fences the older they get– quitting jumping for dressage, then quitting dressage for trails. Not to say that there’s anything wrong (or even easier) with doing only dressage or only trails, but that just isn’t me.

For Christ’s sake, I’m in my early twenties. What am I so worried about? Anyway, these are some fears that have been nagging at me. I am ever grateful to the junior training level riders at my barn for loaning me their horses sometimes, because I’ll admit it– at 3′ I feel somewhat close to competent and over crossrails and 2′ with C, like an absolutely clueless PoS rider. Riding their horses, and sometimes school horses, makes me feel like an okay equestrian again.

I’m chalking it up to lacking confidence with C specifically. Since day 1 with C I’ve constantly questioned my ability to be an effective rider and train C correctly. The first time I talked to T seriously about buying him, I asked “Am I good enough to work with this horse?” And I still ask the same questions of myself on a near-daily basis. I have a talented greenie on my hands and I’m just shy of terrified I’ll unwittingly turn him into a monster. Enough people reassure me that everything is fine, but I can’t seem to let that sink in. I want very badly to just be okay with the work I’ve done/am doing with him. And I also know this doubt is sort of part of an ammie owning a greenie, but man, it sucks (you’re probably all thinking ‘build a bridge and get over it, gurl).

I’ve choked back a lot of these worries and now I’m unleashing them all on you poor, poor readers. Regardless, there are all my feels.  hope someone out there understands at least little pieces of this text-wall of blathering nonsense.

Do you guys worry about getting ‘stuck’ at a point in the sport? Or fret you’re not doing best by your horse and giving them a solid foundation?

c for blog

check the neck, bruh

— M


5 thoughts on “Ambition & Doubt in Baby Horsedom

  1. Are there any horses of your trainers that you can hop on here and there?

    I have found a great trainer to work with as Annie grows up and I can’t tell you how excited I am that I’ll get to keep progressing with her and on my own. By the time she’s ready to move up the levels I really want to be confident over atleast 3’6 and slowly but surely I’ll get there. Getting to lesson on made horses is a big part of that equation. It isn’t consistent but I’m aiming for 2 lessons a week when I can swing it and more when I get bday monies etc.

    Just some thoughts. I know how you feel but you’re going to have a great horse at the end of the adventure!


    • Most of T’s horses are fresher off the track. She has a personal horse who I’ve taken over mid height fences before (2’9″ ish) but not in recent days… but I think you’re right that more lessons on horses who know what they’re doing but still provide a challenge would be good for my confidence when I get there with C. I think you hit the nail on the head– I want to progress with C, but also on my own, so I’m better prepared for challenges along the way.
      On a side note, your girl is just lovely, and foaled the same year as C! 🙂 Huzzah for chromey chestnut baby OTTBs!


  2. I agree with Hillary. Trainer on him or regular lessons from one. I just started following you so I am not sure who the initialed people are, but I know C~ As far as losing confidence, it has happened to me in my mid 40’s so you have plenty time. With my trainer, I worked my crazy, duck out horse through and now he’s settled but I still don’t trust him completely. SO….I got another one that is a more confident jumper so I can be more confident. Not sure what you financial situation is, but maybe that’s a possibility so you don’t lose your confidence? Or lease/borrow/exercise someone elses horse? There are plenty people that need help and it may be free to ride them!


    • I take 1 lesson a week usually– T is trainer and A is assistant trainer. T still does training rides on him. I think it’s more an internal thing where sometimes success feels like a fluke, and I just need to have a little more faith in myself! I take occasional lessons on a school horse, Riley, who is a blast but he’s also on the older side so he can’t do the big stuff. Unfortunately my financial situation isn’t fantastic at the moment so a second horse is out of the question (sure doesn’t stop me from perusing sale horses in my area though 😉 ). I might start asking around more– one of the juniors is gone for a bit so I’ll be riding her horse in that time, so it’s a step up 🙂 Thanks!


  3. Pingback: 2016 Resolutions and Goals | Canter & Candor


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