As this new chapter starts for me, I’m happy to say that a new chapter is starting for Francisco as well.
In a wonderful turn of events, Frankie has a new kid to love on him for the next year! Starting next week, he will be fully leased out to one of the juniors that rides with my trainer, and is already happily embracing his job as a confidence-boosting packer (though we all know that’s really always been his job).
I’m certainly having a lot of emotions about this: relief that he is remaining in-barn under my trainer’s watchful care, happiness that he’ll get to do a job he really enjoys at a level he finds straightforward, pride that he’s such a good boy that can make this kid happy, excitement to see their growth together, gratitude for the people that worked together to find such a perfect situation to keep Frankie nearby. But also regret that I won’t be the one holding the reins for the next year, and sadness that I’ll be cheering him on from the sidelines instead of waiting for the buzzer go off from his back.
But that’s all part of the different chapters, and I can acknowledge the bittersweetness while still embracing this new chapter. This truly is an ideal setup for us for the next year: it takes a financial burden off me and my husband while we adjust to a new lifestyle, while still keeping Frankie where I can stop by and see him whenever I’d like. I’ll still get to groom him and give him tons of smooches, will still get to bring my baby out to meet him as soon as we’re out of the hospital (too soon? nah), and will still feel good knowing that he’s going to be receiving the same wonderful care he’s been thriving under for the past five years.
I’ve always promised Frankie to make the best decisions I possibly can for his care and I’m confident that he’s going to have a wonderful year making this kiddo very happy! He’s more than earned an easy retirement with me when the time comes, but we have many years and many adventures yet before that happens. In the meantime, I am especially grateful that my trainer and whole barn family love Frankie and want to keep him around as much as I do.
With Frankie officially handed off and me officially out of the saddle, I’m not sure what this blog will look like in the coming months. I certainly plan to keep up with all of you, and hope to share pieces of the adventure. I’ll probably be more active on my other social media in the meantime though, so feel free to connect with me on Instagram at @hellomylivia!
The last month or two has been very light on the riding front for me as I’ve started adjusting my schedule and expectations due to the tiny creature currently inhabiting my body. I quickly decided to limit my riding to only Frankie – while friends have offered to let me hop on their wonderful animals, I simply trust Francis the most out of all of them and know him the best.
I’m also only riding when there are other people nearby/in the barn/in the ring. I’ve never hesitated to ride solo before and I’m also very sure that Frankie won’t pull anything silly, but it’s an easy enough restriction to put on us to make sure we’re being safe. Our barn almost always has other boarders or lessons going on so this hasn’t posed a difficulty.
I did spend several weeks only flatting, largely because I felt a bit like death warmed over. The phrase morning sickness is a lie – I was a nauseated goblin most of the day and especially in the evenings. Every ride ended up being play-by-ear; some days I hopped a crossrail but more often I’d flat around and then call it a day. Now that I’m finally feeling a bit better, we’re doing very advanced crossrail courses of 4-6 jumps. Wildly advanced stuff.
While I’m not convinced that Frankie knows what’s going on (sweet boy is not the most observant), he has continued his unbroken streak of being a Very Good Boy. I was joking the other day that he’s clearly already putting in his application for short stirrup pony: he loped around those crossrails happily, offering auto changes and letting me sit there and do nothing.
From my conversations with other friends who have kids, it sounds like everyone takes a step back from riding at different points – some stop early on, others continue flatting but stop jumping, and others keep going with few changes for quite some time. I’m planning to keep riding at this more low-key level as long as my body feels comfortable with it, and I’m endlessly grateful to have my perfect Francisco who I can trust to keep me safe. My saddle time and my barn time overall are so important to me, no matter what other changes are going on.
However, realistically I will need to take a step back at some point, so I am investigating options to ensure Francis still has a job to do when that does happen. I certainly have my preferences for what type of situation I find for him and my trainer is on board with those plans, so fingers crossed that things work out the way I’m hoping. Regardless of what option we pursue I’ll be eager to get back in the saddle with him once the little one is here and I’m feeling recovered. As sappy as it may sound, Frankie has been with me through so many big changes in my adult life already and it feels right that he’s part of this next chapter too.
To my friends with kids: what did you do with your horse(s) when you took a step back? Any tips as we explore different options?