As I start to think about my own future, I’ve been thinking a lot about what that means for Frankie’s future and how best to ensure that it’s a happy and safe one.
Because while I’m optimistic that Frankie will be able to cart me around 1.20m, I think that will be about as far as I’m willing to push him. Could he have scope for the 1.25m? Maybe. I know he would try his heart out. But as the jumps go up the courses also get more technical, and I want to be very conscious to not overface him with something that will knock his confidence. He’ll be 12 this year and I want him to have a long and sound career, so we may start backing him off height-wise after this season depending on how things go and how he feels. I’m not committing to that yet, but it’s something we’re constantly monitoring and considering.
At the same time, I do want to compete in the AOs, hopefully up to the 1.30-1.40m height. Not tomorrow, but eventually. Which most likely means means a second horse. I cannot afford two horses. All of which means Frankie will need to earn his own keep.
Selling him is not my first choice (or second or third or fourth…)- he’s absolutely worth his weight in gold and eventually I want to teach my kids how to ride on his steady safe back (FAR IN THE FUTURE SO FAR IN THE FUTURE). He’s such an incredibly special horse and I don’t plan on letting go of him unless it was to a situation where I knew his life would be better than the one I can provide for him.
But leasing him out is on the table- ideally to a tall junior or ammy in the barn who is looking for a safe fun ride in the jumper ring. I’d prefer in-barn just so I could see him and know that he would still be under my trainer’s excellent care, but we do have some trusted contacts in the area that would be options. Trainer and I have discussed this possibility moving forward, and we had an interesting conversation on what type of person would do best with him.
She commented that he’s not so good for a nervous rider. I was a little surprised by that, since he’s so so so steady and safe- all things nervous riders are usually reassured by. But she reminded me that Frankie is definitely a kick ride. He’s happy to gallop up to the big fences- but only if you tell him to. If someone is nervous and starts picking at his face, he is more than happy to oblige by coasting to a slower rhythm, at which point he physically can’t make it over the bigger jumps. I can hold his face all I want to package him up, but only if I’m backing it up with a crapton of leg to maintain the power in his stride, and it is definitely a workout. He does best with someone whose first instinct at all times is to KICK JUST KEEP KICKING. He is the epitome of the phrase “the right answer is ALWAYS more leg.”
So if someone wanted to do the Highs with him, it would have to be someone who has strong legs and isn’t a puller. Not because he gets offended by pulling, but because he thinks slowing down is great and would love the excuse. Even at 1m where he’s now super comfortable, he does best with a foot constantly on the gas pedal. He’s never been the type of horse to pull you to the jump.
On the flip side, we could probably stick anyone on him to do the lower level jumpers/3′ equitation. Homeboy can hop those fences from a standstill, so it don’t matter if you pull. He’ll pack around the smaller jumps no matter what his rider is doing (ask me how I know, womp womp). So he could potentially be a great match for someone wanting an intro to the jumper ring, even if they are a nervous picker.
These aren’t decisions we have to make right now, as I plan to enjoy the heck out of this show season with him. As always, we’ll keep an eye on him to see what he’s telling us he wants to do, and we’ll adjust accordingly. Things have a way of changing, no matter what the best laid plans may be. Our number one priority at all times is making sure we have a healthy happy Francis! I just love the snot out of this horse.