With everything going on with the start of spring, going through the USEA Instructor training program, and the excitement of starting work on the new farm - lots of people have been asking why my blog has been so quiet, when I obviously have so much to report! The honest answer is that I have known what the next post had to be, and I just haven't been able to make myself write it. I've been trying for 3 months, and I couldn't get the words out. But here goes. Katchi has been retired from eventing. I've just about gotten to the point that I can tell people without crying, but I feel the tears coming as I type. It's the right decision. If only it didn't hurt so much. My entire team agrees that the time has come to move on. But neither Katchi's heart or mine agree. It has been incredibly hard to explain to Katchi that he can't be allowed to gallop and jump. He loves eventing so very much, and he just doesn't understand. But sometimes we have to make decisions with our heads, on behalf of our horses and in spite of our own heart - and theirs.
Over the past several years, Katchi and I have battled repeated soundness issues. Never injury - never something that just needed time. If he needed time, he could have all he ever wanted. I'd wait forever for him. But time is not working in his favor. He has some basic structural flaws that we cannot change. And the more I push him, the more those issues effect him. In ramping up our training in preparation for Aiken, it became clear Katchi just wasn't holding up to the pressure, again. It's not his fault. He tries harder than any horse I've ever ridden. He's my partner, my friend, and my confidant. And he needs me to be all those things for him too.
Perhaps it's so hard to make this decision because of all the goals we didn't achieve. Or perhaps because of all we did accomplish. Or for all we very nearly accomplished. I've never worked harder with a horse - or enjoyed the journey more. I owe him so much for all he's taught me about riding and horsemanship - and lameness diagnosis and veterinary medicine! I'm heartbroken that I finally just figured out how to ride him over those darn colored poles, and now we have no more colored poles in our future. I'm heartbroken that I'll never gallop through another finish line cheering and patting my "GOOD BOY KATCHI!" all the way home.
So what's next for Katchi? He has a forever home with me. And we are all hopeful he has many years left in him to do a little "horse ballet" in the sandbox. I still have my eyes on those flying changes and a USDF bronze medal. I still have big goals for Katchi - so long as he tells me he can.
After 3 months being confined to the rectangular sandbox... while I love it, one thing is for sure... I am an event rider through-and-through. While I'm letting go of some goals, and setting new goals... I also have the same goals. Eventing. Jump all the jumps. When one door closes, another is sure to open - and sometimes things that seem tragic at the time actually lead you down a path you might have never pursued otherwise, but end up taking you places better than anywhere you could have ever imagined you might go. I'm looking forward to that new path.
Good Boy Katchi.