Ok...before anyone thinks it...yes this is completely a first world problem (of note I absolutely HATE that saying), but it is a real one in my life at the moment and I think Dusty's ears are bleeding from listening to me talk about it. That means you all get to hear about it now.
Although I rarely ever mention it, we do have two horses. Pete was bought for Dusty a few months after I got Gem and in the pre-Wyatt era of our life, Pete was ridden about twice a week and went out on most of my conditioning rides with Gem. He even completed a 25 mile LD although he was not fond of the second half. Now a days he is 25 and mostly retired because Dusty runs and we really only have time for one hobby each. He is sound, happy and fat.
So what is the problem?
You all know that while I am not ditching endurance I am pursuing a new avenue for growth. My time is extremely limited. If I can get out to the barn two days a week I am thrilled. While endurance requires a base line of fitness, you can easily maintain that on two rides a week with some careful planning on how to best utilize your time. My understanding is that with eventing, two days a week is pretty wimpy and anything less is fairly useless. With that in mind here is my dilemma:
Gem: The obvious choice because, well, she is my Gemmiecakes and I have already taught her basically everything she knows so adding even more knowledge and growth would be fantastic.
The pros include: these lessons will not only help maintain her basic fitness level, but should in theory make her even more rideable during e-rides. Any time spent with her is good for our relationship. I love feeling her learn new things.
The cons include: all her tack is illegal for eventing except possibly her bit. I have $0 to change that and would then be relying on borrowing BOs tack which may or may not fit and could end up making her sore which would kill our chances for endurance. Gem isn't particularly fond of jumping or running in big open fields. She will do it and she can learn to do it better and safer, but she won't enjoy it.
Pete: I have watched Dusty ride Pete a lot and have sat on him myself all of three times in 6 years.
The pros include: he already has all eventing legal tack. While I am not of the "my horse loves his job" persuasion, Pete actually really doesn't mind jumping and galloping around big fields and is bold, brave and honest. When we were in WI, Pete and Gem were pastured in a field that was half grass and half jumping arena. In the summer the arena portion was filled with jumps and we routinely got messages from the BO that she would look out her window and watch Pete cruise around the course all on his own having the time of his life. We always said he would make a fantastic eventer. It would give him more attention, make him more fit and he would be happier for it.
The cons include: he isn't Gem and I really don't know him much at all. At least with Gem I know what to expect. Riding Pete would then mean almost no time to ride Gem. Again, I have 2 days a week I can ride. If I do a lesson on Pete and then spend the other day practicing, well then Gem doesn't get any time. That means that I would by default be ditching endurance altogether because I would have no time to condition Gem.
In a perfect world, I would have the time to do eventing on Pete who would be a rock star at it and still get a ride or two on Gem out on the trails or even in the arena applying the things I learn on Pete. I just don't have the time to do that right now and with Wyatt getting older and into more things (like signing him up for baseball this fall) my time will only get more limited, not freer for a number of years.
So what do I do? Do I try to fit my square pegged Gemmie into the round hole of eventing and make do all the while looking out at Pete in the field knowing he is the better choice? Or do I go ahead and do it with Pete and basically retire Gem for a while when we have finally found our stride with endurance?
Dusty's answer was to not bother with this whole new eventing idea at all and just stick with endurance until Wyatt is old enough to either join me on horses or he doesn't want me around so much and I have more time to myself. The issue with that is that by then Pete will be either officially retired or gone (he is currently a young 25, but I have no delusions of him starting a new career at 30) and Gem wont be far behind him (she is currently 18). It isn't a now or never thing, but now is as good a time as ever.
So what would you do?