He seemed the perfect horse, but as I’ve always said, very different to any horse I’ve had before! I’d had whizzy, sharp, spooky, nappy, strong, and Willo is none of those things. What he is though, is quite a sensitive, complex character, and he looks to his rider for confidence and support. We’ve had a few issues along the way but always managed to work through them with the help of my extremely patient trainer Sharon, and with some fantastic results because of it.
What has happened recently though, is that I’ve lost confidence with Willo after taking a tumble. It started with an honest stop, but because I ended up on the floor, since then my whole style of riding has changed. I hadn’t realised until I watched the video’s back, but when jumping I’m so worried that he might stop that I’m really sitting up and not allowing him to stretch over the fence. Willo being the sensitive soul he is, has picked up on this and now lost confidence in me. Whilst I am quite sure we could overcome that in the short term, and have just gone back to basics with it to build us back up again, it’s given us the opportunity to look at the bigger picture and reflect.
Having consulted with Sharon, and a local professional eventer, we have taken the decision that actually Willo and I probably aren’t the best match in the world. He’s not nasty, or dangerous, and in most ways he really is a delight to handle, but he isn’t that straightforward schoolmaster that I originally set out to buy. After much agonising, and knowing that I’ll probably never have a horse who can match Willo for ability, I have taken the decision that we need to go our separate ways because we are simply not getting the best from one another.
I will be extremely sorry to see him go; one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life would be when he jumped clear round the BE 90 course for a HT at Larkhill, and was just an absolute machine! Oh, and not to mention the feeling that he’s giving me with his flatwork lately...all that training has really paid off because he just feels fantastic, the giraffe that we were working with at the start is a distant memory!
All that aside, I am now sure that this is the best option for us both, so hopefully soon Willo will find a new home where he will be a superstar again, and I will be actively looking for a new best buddy to go out and compete with. I think sometimes it’s almost harder to know when things aren’t quite right because your personal attachment to the horse and the situation can cloud your judgement, and it’s been far from disastrous so it was never a straightforward decision; just one that I’m sure will benefit us both in the long term. Phew! Actually feels good to commit some of this to paper...or virtual paper anyway ;-)
So, in the mean time, Willo is advertised for sale and has a few viewings arranged; if they aren’t quite right for one another then I will continue to ride, train and hopefully get to a few dressage competitions to see if we can get that elusive score we have been striving for. Once his sale is complete I will look into buying another – typically I’m sure the ones I like will be double what I have to spend, but I think that’s par for the course really! My main priority will be finding Willo a lovely new home where he will be happy, and trying to get back on track with my ambitions before we lose the eventing season. The little taster I had has left me wanting more, and I’m as ambitious and determined as ever – so watch this space!