It was this week last year that I first spotted the craigslist ad for my sweet mare Princess. Within a week I had gone to see her and by the fifteenth of September she was mine. I was not in love with her or anywhere close. She wasnt my "type". I hated her color. I wasnt crazy about her conformation. I figured that in one year, when Abby came home, I could send her down the road without a tear and with free conscience as I would have put time and training to her that would give her a better chance for a useful life down the road. One year of riding later.... And boy have I learned a thing or two about what I like in a horse. I still dont like her color. And not just because it is impossible to keep clean.
I still have to turn a blind eye to her conformation and the way it makes her body move, (athletic is about the last adjective that would come to mind). BUT I have gotten more "use" out of this not-so-pretty mare in one year than I have out of all the horses I've owned in the past ten years, combined. 'Pretty' really is, as pretty does.
When I started riding Princess I had a set of hard and fast rules that I felt were non-negotiable. For example: I dont feed treats and I especially dont feed treats out of hand. I dont get off and lead my horse over an obstacle she wont cross. I dont use bribes. I do not coo lovey-dovey "goood girrrrl, what's a sweeeet goooood girrrrl" to my horse and I especially do not do so when trying to coax her through a sticky situation.
I feed Princess treats, out of my hand. I get off and lead her over obstacles she wont cross. I bribe her. I coo lovey-dovey words, especially when I'm trying to coax her over a sticky situation. I did not begin to use the above tactics because I "love" her and she has turned me in to a softy. Oh contrare!
For all the use I was getting out of Princess I was still planning on selling her come September for no other reason other than the fact that I could not seem to develop that bond. I had days where i thought I might just be falling in love with her but then that feeling would seem to fade overnight.... and not because of a bad experience. We just didnt "click".
Not only did we not "click" but it really seemed like she did click with the lady I board off of, who I'll just call L.. You see, L and Princess had this bond... Princess would walk right up to her in the field to be caught and then seemed happier with L under saddle. Princess would relax and respond to L better than to me so much that I actually encouraged L to ride her more and we even talked of her buying Princess. I didnt resent that bond at all, I envied it.... because it is exactly that "special connection" or "click" that I have been trying to find for years now. I always thought that it was just something that was there, or not.
The time came for me to make a decision. Sell Princess or not. The answer wasnt simple. I still had so much room to grow on Princess. I still loved riding her. We still had years of good riding a head of us. But we had no bond. So which was more important to me? The bond, or the ride?