I read an article today about knowing when to quit. It was a super piece and certainly encouraged the reader to take a long hard look at themselves and their horses. The main point of the article was that sometimes quitting is actually a step forward-sometimes a difficult horse is not worth persevering with just because he has talent or because he is your only hope of competing in a sport you love. Sometimes the horse-and in some cases,the rider-would enjoy a different discipline much more. During my early and torrid days eventing in Ireland,my dearest wish was to take part in a three day event. I dreamed of jumping around Tattersalls being fabulous,and I very nearly managed it too….if only I had read that article earlier….
Nothing Concluded is an utter tosser of a horse. I bred him,I love him and for the most part he makes me very happy. It’s an abusive relationship-he does whatever the hell he likes and demands payment in sweeties. He is naughty,grumpy,spooky,makes arbitrary decisions about everything and is akin to an equine ‘Rainman’. He likes his life just-so. He is gloriously talented,tough,brave and has an insane work ethic. When you combine all of this,you end up with an equine train wreck with zero decorum and so.much.promise. No other horse has taught me so much,caused such heart ache or such financial ass rape. No other horse is more perfectly suited to eventing world domination,whilst at the same time being vastly unsuitable for anything at all.So of course,I sunk every dream and every penny into him in the certainty that he would be the one who got me up the grades. Yeah. No.
Il fast forward over the wonder years but I will include a few of the highlights-his amazing first run,also oddly the last place he ran before taking up showjumping as a less disastrous occupation. He did a beautiful test and a standard clear sj. His run xc was inspired and my head was full of nonsense about Burghley and the like. His back to back wins and several placings-Rolex was in the bag. His fleeing a dressage arena because a sheep stuck its head through a hedge. Rolex possibly not in the bag.His refusal to pass a cow on the xc (despite living with 200 of them) losing the class and making me want to sell him to the gypsies. Burghley now in question. His sudden decision that stripey planks were a menace and must be avoided,losing us a win-again.(He has NEVER done that pure showjumping)His feeling that four time changes and extended bolt were a far more interesting addition to a dressage test than a 20 metre circle. You get the gist. Anyway,we staggered up to the dizzy heights of 1* before physical problems started to catch up with him. Paying the bill for many years of being a total knob. I decided in my wisdom to have a go at amateur eventing,and aim at the Rolex of their division-Tattersalls autumn two day event. I’d get to wear a tail coat!! At last!
Alas,it was not to be. His qualifying runs included a 6th place (despite the aforementioned plank crisis) and then at the next event he was a mile in the lead going out of the start box,only to decide that jumping the smallest fence on the course was beneath him/insulting/from Mars/who the fuck knows,for an unnecessary 20.Tatts loomed. I bought a top hat and tails. I booked the B and B. I put the entry in. I even had a jacket embroidered with the business name so I’d look supercool. Maybe even badass. I took the horse to the gallops a week before and he carted me whilst spooking like a dickhead. He was sore the next day (but of course) and then in true Irish style it started to rain. And rain. And rain. The event was cancelled. And that was when it dawned on me that this horse was not for this job. Ever since he went showjumping,he has been great. The jumpers don’t care how batshit crazy the horse is as long as it leaves the poles up,so he’s right at home. It took me a long time to learn to quit in order to move forward,but it was a great lesson to learn. It’s a funny old life,folks.