We all come to a crossroads of sorts in life, at one time or another. Do I do this or keep doing that? Do I go straight or turn? Take the path less traveled or the road well worn? I am at one of those points in my horse life now.
I have been ground driving and doing long line work with my TB mare and she would make a very elegant driving horse. She is fun to ride as well, but I enjoy driving so much more. I have been focusing on riding her, mostly because I have the tack and can do it. Driving would require finding and buying a cart to fit her and a harness of her very own. Cha-CHING! Add in the fact that I'm not even sure she Wants to be a driving horse and then it gets fun.
Another thing taking on this adventure would mean is this- Katman would be on the back burner. I simply don't have the time to drive 2 horses. A side note in his story is that the girls want to begin riding him. For the most part, he's not really broke to ride. Sure I've hopped on him a few times, my nieces led each other around on him a few times (I wasn't there and my sister as expected, caught hell for it!), but he is far from trained to be a riding horse.
So here's where I'm at with both horses-
MAM the TB mare
-The harness I have is a piece of crap. It is a cheapo nylon harness that marginally fits, but nowhere near like it should. She would need a new harness. Synthetics are around $200, Leather is just under $400 from Amber Hillside where I bought the one for Kat.
-Carts are all over the board. Frontier stopped making theirs from what I understand and they were around $400 for a decent starter cart. Frey Carriage Works has a Sprinter for around $2100 with no frills. There are also a few for sale online, some in the driving club newsletter and again the prices are across the board from $700-$1000. I also have a cob sized cart I am hoping to sell to help fund this effort, but then again I can have modifications made to it for minimal costs and make it work meanwhile.
-Do I throw all of this money into it and find out she's not a driving horse? Whatever I buy, it need to fit her properly so that the learning process isn't a painful or uncomfortable one.
-He has become a point and shoot pony. He can sit for a while and I can pull him out, harness up and put to the cart and go. I keep him in shape and ready for action, so no worries there. Our dressage scores may reflect the lack of work in between, but they aren't anything to sneeze at either. He's doing well and we could possibly move up to Intermediate before long with a bit more work.
-If the girls start riding him, he will need a saddle and tack to go with it, they will need boots and helmets of course and our time will be spent bringing them along as riders, him along under saddle and then of course there will be shows to go to, probably the same weekends as driving events... and more stuff to buy (clothes) for in the ring.
-They will soon outgrow him (their height) as a mount and likely need something to move up to, IF they want to continue riding. He will be a leadline only pony for a while until a) they prove to be able to handle him and b) he proves to take care of them when they're on him. Once they outgrow him for riding he will go back to being a driving pony. I don't know if they can ever handle him while driving, especially in cones, but we'll see how it goes with riding first.
So there it is. A lot to think about and kick around in my mind for a while. There's also another major factor in play here that is always in the back of my mind, where the horses will have to take a back seat in everything. The girls are priority, way before them.
I put the shit-tastic harness on the mare the other night and got it adjusted as best I could for her, for now. She did really well (YAY!!!) and then it rained, the footing is crap (slicker than snot) and she has an abscess in the left hind. She will be getting some time off until that is remedied.