On Struggle and Perseverance

I knew when I bought Duncan that it would be a challenge for a multitude of reasons. I also knew that if I didn’t buy Duncan, I was seconds away from packing it in and calling this whole venture of coming back to riding a failed experiment. Two-ish months in and I can say that I was right, it has been a challenge, but there have been rewarding moments along the way too.

All things considered, Duncan is actually a pretty cool guy. He’s a forward ride and likes to work. While he is a worrier, hes not an overreactor and generally comes around to things pretty quickly. He’s a horse that really wants to do a good job though building his (and mine) confidence has been a slow process.

The first few weeks were rough. His already worried personality coupled with a change in environment/routine and coming from a place where he was stalled the majority of the time made it difficult for us to even have a conversation. His frantic energy kept his brain on lock down, sending his fight or flight response into overdrive. The first time I had him in the round pen I had a feeling deep in the pit of my stomach that if I made the wrong move he would attempt to go over the wall. Shortly after while lunging him in the arena I absentmindedly took a step towards him to send him out on a bigger circle and he exploded, charging halfway across the arena and lifting both my feet off the ground in the process. Under saddle he was stiff and unyielding, unwilling to drop his guard (or his head).

We’ve gone at his pace, spent a lot of time with me on the ground establishing and reinforcing boundaries and the idea that while I am unequivocally the leader in this relationship, I am a fair and benevolent one who means him no harm. He’s made a lot of progress all things considered, our work having been inconsistent due to the weather of this time of year. We’ve worked to address any bodily pain, gotten him up to date on vaccinations and teeth and farrier work. Regular turnout with a calm buddy has helped him immensely as well as our groundwork and we’re starting to develop trust and a language. We hit a milestone last week when he wandered off while I was setting a jump and got his foot through the reins (completely my fault) and while he initially panicked, he almost immediately calmed down and stood still for me to untangle him. A month ago I don’t know that he would have trusted me to do so.

In a weird way, his issues have been exactly what I needed to experience to be reminded that I do actually know more than I give myself credit for. I lost a lot of confidence not only in my riding but also in myself through everything that happened with Quinn, and so it’s been good to see results and be able to affirm that I’m doing the right things. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there’s a been a lot of frustration and sadness too though.

I could not have picked a horse that was more of a polar opposite from Q. Quinn never worried and never said no even when he wasn’t sure. I never had to give much thought to introducing him to something new and riding him, even though he was even greener than Duncan is, was never a struggle (until, of course his injury happened). He and I have one of those rare relationships where we just immediately spoke the same language and his easy confidence only emboldened me. Coming from a horse like that to a horse like Duncan who takes every ounce of my brain power and body strength to ride feels immensely like struggle. Throw in the fact that I still have dips in confidence in my own ability and there are some days where I wonder what the hell I was thinking. I watch green horses canter lines of cross rails like its nothing on their first rides off the track and am green with envy. I miss things feeling easy. Though I’m riding another horse now, I’m still deeply grieving the career that Quinn will never have.

This isn’t to say that I don’t like Duncan or have any regrets about buying him. I’m grateful for the things he’s teaching me and know that I will be the better for having him. Change is just hard. Growth is hard. Moving on from the loss of something you so desperately wanted to work is the most hard. Sometimes though the only way out is through, so Duncan and I will keep plugging along and I know things will become easier in time.

2019 Expenses Year in Review

One of my favorite accounts on Instagram does a horse related expense breakdown at the end of every year. I always find it really interesting to see what people spend their money on so I thought I would do one of my own! I’ve tried to be as detailed as possible without being boring so you’ll find I’ve been more detailed about some things than others.

Lets get to it!

Starting with the basics:

  • Board – $6,600
    • Q was on full care board at $600/month from Jan-Sept, then moved to field board for the final three months at $300/month.
    • Duncan is on full care at $600/month but only December is accounted for since thats when I purchased him
    • I occasionally work off some board so those discounts have been reflected where remembered
  • Supplements – $665.35
    • Q was on SmartPaks of Farriers Formula Double Strength and Omega Horseshine for the first half of the year but mice kept eating the Omega Horseshine out of the packs (apparently they love it because they didn’t touch anything else in the feed room)
    • We switched in June to Platinum Performance Equine and Platinum Performance Platinum Balance in addition to the Farriers Formula Double Strength. I was really impressed with both Platinum Performance products.
  • Farrier – $705
    • Q was in 2 basic steel shoes in front from Jan-June and then we did four rounds (every 4 weeks) of pour in pads. He had his shoes pulled at the end of September and is now barefoot
    • This includes one set of front shoes for Duncan and one set of front shoes for a horse I took on trial
    • This figure was surprising to me as I thought it would be higher but I remembered I did get a couple of free services from my farrier because we had several issues with the pour in pads
  • Vet – $5,915.58
    • Routine vacs and teeth floating for Q
    • 2 trips to Rood and Riddle for Q
      • 1 Bone Scan plus 2 night stay
      • 2 lameness workups including blocks from hoof to hip in hind legs
      • SI injections
      • Multiple xrays/ultrasounds of feet/suspensory ligaments/hocks/back
    • Antihist supplement for the Spring
    • 60 days of Equioxx
    • 1 sinus/tear duct flushing and eye meds for Q
    • Pre-purchase exam for horse I ended up passing on
    • Routine vacs/coggins for Duncan
  • Chiro/Accupuncture – $749
    • This was the one thing I did that actually showed improvement in Q. While it wasn’t enough to fix him I’m a huge believer in the practice.
    • Includes 2-3 months of Chinese herbal supplements

Basics Total: $14,634.93

And now the fun stuff – what did I buy in 2019?

  • Tack/Misc. Items – $1364.71
    • Roma Deluxe Groom Tote
      • I have a love-hate relationship with this. Its way bigger than I thought so it fits a lot but I find it hard to keep organized
    • Hay net
    • Fly mask
    • Shedding blade
    • Full set of Magyk Equipe Sport Boots
      • I bought these for Q in anticipation of him coming back into work and haven’t gotten a lot of use out of them yet but they seem really well made and durable
    • Bath/grooming sponges
      • These are my favorite but I also have gotten a lot of use out of this and this
    • Vetrolin Shampoo
    • Sweat scraper x2
    • Haas Amazone, Military, and Fellglanzburst brushes
      • Of the three, I find I reach for the Military the most as a great all purpose body brush. I am thoroughly obsessed with Haas brushes, the quality is excellent and they have a huge range for even the thinnest skinned and pickiest horses
    • Liniment
    • Equiderma lotion
      • I think I first got turned onto this on the COTH forums but its a staple in my grooming kit for any skin fungus/rain rot/ crud
    • Rubber French link full cheek bit
    • Professionals Choice Bell Boots
      • Duncan has gotten a lot of wear out of these and I quite like them. They don’t move and are easy to spray off after riding. I do find the sizing to be a little odd as they fit okay but the velcro closure almost seems too small
    • Magic Utility Scissors
      • These are my favorite scissors and this is my second pair. I use them for everything from bandage trimming to cleaning up mane pulling
    • Lead rope
    • Shaped pad
      • Theres a monthly hunter/jumper schooling series we take students too frequently and it will probably be one of Duncans first outings. Going to look super cute under my monoflap 😛
    • Amigo Bravo 12 Turnout Sheet
      • Qs backup sheet got donated to Duncan so I bought one more as I like to have an extra in case they put holes in the one they’re wearing (which Q promptly did)
    • 2 Rambo wug midweight turnout blankets (used)
      • One for Duncan and a backup
    • PS of Sweden five point (used)
      • I had a black one and sold it when I sold my black jump saddle and have been looking for a brown one forever since they’re discontinued and one finally popped up on Facebook
    • Devoucoux breastplate (used)
      • Another FB group find. I’ve wanted one of these since seeing it on Justine Duttons ponies and I have to say that I’m not super impressed with the quality of the leather. Its still a nice piece of tack but I expected more from the brand
  • Clothing – $210.14
    • Aubrion Hayden tights
      • Super comfortable for summer with the mesh insert on the outside of the leg, feel a lot like yoga pants. Some people might be put off by the fact that the mesh goes all the way up to the waistband but with a longer shirt its a non-issue
    • Dublin Airflow Performance tights
      • Another summer favorite. Fabric is a bit thicker/more compressiony than the Aubrions. The silicone on the full seat did start to peel quite a bit after a few washes
    • B Vertigo Jenny tights
      • These are my absolute favorite tights ever. They’re a good weight, the fullseat is just right, and they usually come out with a fun color or two every season. They could only get better if they added a phone pocket!

Shopping Total: $1,574.85

Grand Total: $16,209.78

I know a lot of people prefer to keep finances private and I totally respect that, but personally I think being transparent about spending can be interesting and helpful to others. Being an equestrian and owning horses is expensive no matter how you’re participating and seeing real breakdowns of cost is incredibly useful to understand how to budget and prepare for situations that invariably arise.

Overall I feel like I did pretty well with sticking to only buying things I needed (with a few exceptions). There were a few places where I expected to have spent more money than I actually did which is always a good surprise! Hopefully next year we’ll see less money in the Vet column and more in the Show Entries/Fun Stuff column!