I was recently looking back at old blog posts from the early days with Francisco, when I stumbled across this one. The short version if you don’t want to read the whole thing is this: I bought Frankie to be my athletic partner and not a pet, and I did not commit to keeping him forever.
Clearly, past me had no idea what was in store. And to be fair – at that point we were only a few months into our partnership, we had not yet achieved all these incredible things we’ve now accomplished, we had not been on adventures all over the country, we had not built the trust and love that we have in the past 7 years.
I don’t think I was necessarily wrong in theory, but I do think things have changed after all the years and things we’ve done together. I realized a couple years ago that Frankie made so many of my dreams come true, and it was way more fun for me to pivot and try things that he might enjoy rather than just pushing for myself. And that didn’t feel like a sacrifice, it felt selfish – instead of always climbing climbing for the next division, I picked what makes me happy. And what makes me happy is riding this specific horse.
So yes, Frankie does have a forever home with me. He has and will continue to spend time on lease as needed while I navigate the early years of motherhood, he will pack me around in whatever divisions make us feel good when I’m able to get to the barn, and when he wants an easier job he’ll either go be part of the lesson program or move out to the farm across the street from my house and be a pasture pet.
Whatever the future looks like, I will be the one ensuring his health and happiness. Not only do I owe it to him after all that he’s selflessly given me over the years, but I simply adore this creature. I want to be the one who takes care of him, I want to always be there to love on him. Again, this doesn’t feel like a sacrifice; it feels like such a blessing to continue to have Francis in my life.
Added to that, I want to show Lina what it means to be the steward of these animals. That the balance can shift over time, and that it can be a joy to find new ways of being together.
There will be other horses in my life as time goes on, and I do maintain that it is likely that not all of them will be a forever horse for me. But Frankie surely is.
I realized I haven’t posted in quite a few months, and my only excuse is that my computer logged me out of WordPress and I kept forgetting to log back in. It’s that simple and that dumb.
But I do really like having a little record to look back on, so let’s talk about some Frankie updates!
I am ecstatic to share that the treatment protocol we went through for Frankie’s Lyme’s diagnosis was extremely effective. We did end up having to extend the doxy once to make sure we were being aggressive enough, but his symptoms have completely disappeared. He managed to come through the antibiotics without any tummy upset, a shiny coat, healthy muscles, and his personality is as goofy and sweet as ever. I’m beyond thrilled to have my happy boy loving his job again.
I did have the opportunity to take Frankie to a little local show this past weekend. We just did one speed round where he was perfect: forward to the jumps, extremely responsive, locked on to the fences, and so relaxed. There were lots of green horses there getting miles which meant lots of spooks and chaos, and he just fell asleep at the ingate then went around practically on the buckle. And of course he still managed to get us 6th out of 30, because he’s just that good. I was so relieved to not feel any of the hesitation he had back in the fall, and he didn’t hold any sort of grudge about it.
We also had a classic Francis moment: when we were backing him off the trailer, his blanket caught on something. Instead of panicking, he just swung that direction (I could almost hear him thinking, “I’m getting tugged that way, guess I should start going that way”). The strap ended up loudly tearing off completely. He didn’t blink. My trainer just laughed and said “thank God that happened with Frankie, I think most other horses would be halfway across the parking lot by now.” In case it hasn’t been made abundantly clear: this horse is the most perfect angel boy to ever exist.
In more bittersweet news, I did make the very difficult decision to lease him back out. As much as I wish I could be there more often, I’m really only able to get to the barn 2x a week (maybe 3 if I’m lucky, but that’s rare). Balancing a busy work schedule, an increasingly busy toddler, and other life commitments is just tough during this phase of life. He needs more attention than that, and honestly the math doesn’t super work out in terms of my cost per ride. I was waffling about a partial lease vs a full lease when a perfect situation came along looking for a full lease, so that’s what we’re doing. We’ve learned over time that when a great arrangement pops up, it’s best to say yes.
They’re a really lovely family who rides with my trainer, looking to start moving up in height beyond what the lesson horses offer and start competing more. They’ve been extremely invested in making sure Frankie has everything he needs to thrive with them, including getting their saddle fitted, buying all sorts of brushes and tack and treats, and asking tons of questions about how they can support him. They’ve also expressed that they would love me to come say hi as often as possible and I’m welcome to hop on – I certainly don’t want to abuse that since they’re paying to have sole usage, but I’m thrilled that they are so open to keeping me involved. It makes it much easier.
And as bummed as I am to be missing out on saddle time, I do think Frankie will really enjoy his job. This is now the 3rd time he’s been asked to bring a junior rider along from the 2’/2’6″ height up to the 3′ jumps, and he’s so dang good at it. It’s something that is easy for him and he can relax into. I’ve seen the kiddo ride him and they get along fantastically; she’s being thrown into the deep end at a new barn (the training barn we’re at vs the lesson barn) with new lesson mates and a new trainer (she’s riding with our head trainer now instead of the assistant lesson trainers), and she’s handling it gracefully!
I’m so glad I had the chance to go compete with Francis one last time before his lease starts in March, and have the confidence that he’s feeling healthy and strong and ready for this next chapter. The way I’m looking at it is that Frankie and I are both focusing on developing the next generation of horsewomen right now in our own ways, and that’s one of the most important jobs there is.
And the silver lining is that we’ll now have space in the schedule to get Lina over to the lesson barn to start riding independently on a more size-appropriate pony, so we should have some adorable pony spam over the next few months!