The Roman Job

The Roman Job

I’ve never owned a horse that felt like a job. When I got Simon, he was green and wiggly and zoomy but every trip to the barn was an exciting adventure to me. I thrived on every single accomplishment, whether it was a nice transition or jumping our first oxer. Getting Simon to where he is now was hard, but it never felt like work.

Roman is a lot of work. It’s not because he’s a bad horse. He doesn’t spook. He tries to do what I want him to do. He greets me every time with the same kind eye and pleasant, “What are we doing today lady?” expression. I should adore him, but I’m not there yet. Lately I’ve been pondering if I’m ever going to get there.


He has so many qualities that I want in a horse – hell, that’s why I bought him! His stride goes on for days and days. He’ll be the kind of horse I’ll be able to walk down the lines on, and y’all know how much I love going slow. He’s shown no signs of being shy to new fences or stopping since coming to my barn, and he’s huge. Roman’s put on weight easily, so he quickly has become the “hunter fit” horse that Simon never was.

But I don’t have a sparkle in my eye when I’m with him. I’m not counting down the hours to get to the barn. I’ve only had one ride since I bought him where I thought, “This horse is so cool! This horse is so fun! This horse is much more quality than Simon!” While I don’t expect every ride to be that way, I was hoping for a better ratio than 1 day out of 60.


Right now, he’s a big green horse that I need to go ride because these animals are too expensive not to ride. Plus I know that whether I want to or not, I’ve got to ride him and get him forward to a better place no matter what my feelings are.

Luckily I’m not doing this alone. While I’ve always been pretty budget conscious when it comes to horses, I’ve decided to put Roman in a month of boot camp with my trainer. Whatever she says we should do, we’re going to do. That might mean multiple training rides a week and more private lessons than I can afford long term, but I’ve decided to ante up and pay for some hand holding in September. I feel like if this horse and I are going to jive and become partners, this is a necessary step in that process.


And if at the end of September I still feel this way? He’ll probably go on the market. That says more about me as a rider and an owner right now than it does about him. I’ve got a few theories as to why I can’t get into things as much right now with the new guy, but that’s probably worth a post of its own.

34 thoughts on “The Roman Job

  1. Sometimes horses personalities just don’t click with us. Often though, it’s simply where we are in our own emotional lives. I have one if the sweetest horses I’ve ever known but still only feel a little bonded after 3 years. It may just be temporary for you, maybe see if you get him to show worthy and see if the trauma…I mean fun… of showing helps you two bond?

    1. You and I might feel pretty similarly about our horses from what I’ve gathered reading your blog. The ultimate goal would be for me to get him ready to show by late fall and dabble out there some, but that seems far off right now.

  2. Yeah, I thought when I was reading through this that it sounded like you need to put him in training with someone. If they don’t bring out the sparkle in the relationship, it might not be right. :/ I feel like as hobby horse enthusiasts, if we aren’t excited about it, why spend our precious money trying to make it feel like fun when it isn’t. I’m with you on your thoughts on the situation for sure.

  3. Sounds like a great plan. Chemistry is a magical mysterious thing, so please don’t feel guilty if its not quite right. From everything you’ve posted about Roman he seems lovely and def a potential heart horse for somebody.

  4. i’m a big believer in early big investments into building the partnership – and it sounds like this month of trainer-guided bootcamp will be perfect for that. and if the investment doesn’t pay dividends? no sense throwing good money after bad. i’m hopeful for you either way!

  5. I’m a big believer in You Do You, especially with horses. He’s beautiful and I think you two could make an incredible team, but YOU have to feel that! I wish you luck with him! Sounds like you’ve got an awesome plan. 🙂

  6. No matter what you decide in the future, you are doing right by him in the here and now by giving him a good education. He may never make your heart go pitter-patter (maybe, maybe not, time will tell) but you are laying the foundation to make him a better horse and that’s what’s important.

  7. That other factor is so hard to nail down. I’ve ridden and handled lots of nice horses I just didn’t click with. Not their fault at all. I mean, given what I do click with, it probably says good things about them. 😉

    Rule #1 of horse shopping: if Aimee instantly likes it for an undiscernible reason, instantly pass. I can pick an asshole out of a line up Every. Single. Time.

  8. hey sometimes the bond just doesn’t happen. I do think though that Roman came into your life for a reason-if only to help you get to that one horse who does make you feel like Simon did.

  9. Not all of them bring out the sparkle in us, but their time out of the stall should be special for them. It’s what the horse has to look forward to their whole day.

    How ever this works out, you’re doing right by Roman putting the training into him to make him an awesome horse for someone. That someone may be you or could be someone else, but remember- Great horses aren’t born, they’re made.

  10. The slow, green, mileage miles are kind of boring. Especially after the bond you have made with Simon and the things he can do. Putting Roman in training a bit to speed the process, and give you some days off sounds like a good plan. If he gets more and more educated and doing the job you bought him for and he still doesn’t do it for you, then you have a more saleable horse. On the other hand, when he can do more, you’ll probably have a lot more fun and you might be more into him. I think he is really cute. That face.

  11. You know I’m big on gut feelings, and while things might be muddled for you right now, I think your plan sounds like a good one. And I think September will give you a clearer picture to move forward with <3

  12. Not every horse will be your heart horse. I’m in a similar situation with both my youngsters and I wonder sometimes if it’s because they’re not right for me or because it’s harder for me than it once was to deal with the greenness.
    I have Badger living full time with trainer which is straining me tremendously financially, but I know is the right decision. On the other hand, I only get to ride him twice a week, and only for two weeks at a time as they then travel to shows. Mostly without me. I’ll never figure out if we’ll click with that schedule. After the next two weeks away, they’ll be home for six weeks, so hopefully I can get some more time on him. We shall see.
    Romey needs to be in training. I’m doing nothing for him at all. And he’s not sweet and friendly which doesn’t make me excited to hang out with him either. I’m hoping to put him in training board somewhere for the winter so we can see what’s in there. I will be eating Ramen Noodles and pb&j’s while Badger and Romey live the high life, but sometimes we must sacrifice for our kids, right?
    I think you’re doing all the right things by letting baby horse have some time with trainer so you can see what’s in there. Maybe that sparkle will come out for you, maybe it won’t. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you’re not right for each other. It hurts a little in the wallet, but I think it’s all part of horsing. Feel free to shoot an email if you want to commiserate!

  13. Whew- it took me almost a year to even like Ellie as a horse- and probably another 6mo after that to actually start to enjoy riding her! A big part of that change was the hard work my trainers put in to take her from totally sassy green bean to totally sassy almost finished. I tend to have the most success with the “almost finished” versions- that’s just where my skill level is!
    You know I am a huge proponent of training rides (provided it works for your budget, etc, etc)….I can still enjoy the milestones but let the professionals build in the fundamentals.

    Major props to any rider who can finish a green horse themselves (a few notable bloggers in this group)! I’m just like the extra help!

    I’ve got my fingers crossed that this is just a slow burn into an awesome partnership!

  14. Life is too short not to love riding the one you have. It doesn’t even matter if you are right and all your friend love him. When you can have one, it means you have to have the right one. If this one isn’t it, there are plenty of people looking for this horse that will allow you to look for the next one.

  15. That sounds like a great plan. I can tell you for myself, I do not fall in love with any horse very quickly. Cut yourself some slack and give it a little time. It may come together better than you think!

  16. Some horses take longer to wiggle into our hearts than others. I took my mare on as a training project and, honestly, she was as chore to ride at the beginning. She was argumentative, bucked, squealed and I felt we were always at odds. The first time I hunted her she was downright awful.

    Funnily enough, one day she decided she wanted to work with me and i found she was exactly what I didn’t know I was looking for. I hope you find that with your new horse, but if you don’t, he looks like a solid citizen that will be easy to sell on so you can find the right partner for you.

  17. Sounds like you’ve got a good plan in place, and even if Roman doesn’t work out for you, he’ll have value because of the training you’ve invested in him!

  18. It should be fun. Every ride doesn’t have to be fun, but the whole journey should be fun. If you’re not feeling it, I totally support moving on. I like your plan for now. Extra training can only make things better. I’m really looking forward to sending Nilla back to a trainer sometime this winter.

  19. It took me well over a year to really look forward to seeing my girl. I could appreciate a lot about her, but the emotional side was pretty empty. I think a lot of what has helped us bond as a team is just the miles and miles of rides together, also lots of training and maturing….she’s no longer a super green pony with a bad attitude about work. I’m glad now I didn’t sell her, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit there’s probably a way better match out there. I think selling her once she had some basic training and buying something else could have turned out very well, so really no wrong decision. 🙂 Best of luck

  20. In my experience, getting excited about a neat horse, and actually clicking with the horse don’t have to go hand in hand. It’s totally ok, and pretty normal really, to work on a project horse that you like, but just don’t love, and then once you’ve given it some skills to move the horse along to its next home. Especially given that your emotional bucket–for lack of a better term–is probably running a bit low right now. You might just not have much left at the end of the day to invest in forming a new emotional bond. One way or another, Roman is still going to be better for having been brought into your life!

  21. That sounds like a good plan to me. At the end of the day you got to do what makes you happy, horses are too expensive of a luxury to not enjoy, at least more times than you are!

  22. To me, buying a horse is like finding a spouse, only you don’t have the luxury of a long getting-to-know-you period. You can ride horses you don’t really love or click with, but in my experience it feels like a chore. Those heart horses though? They can do no wrong even when everything isn’t going right. Simon seems like a heart horse and maybe Roman isn’t, but that’s OK. You learn something from every one of them, even if they aren’t permanent fixtures in your life.

  23. Novel alert.

    So I can totally relate. Brasco was, from day 1, was kind of horse I could just spend hours with in the barn, loving on and gazing lovingly at while he gave me the side eye and tried to eat in peace. Clearly, he was never going to be what I needed (you kinda need to jump the jumps to be competitive in the hunters, craziness), but it didn’t make him any less of a cool horse, personality wise.

    I was so excited for my new one to arrive in May, and then immediately started the panic attacks when he ran from me in the paddock almost every day. It didn’t help that I still haven’t ridden him (pregnancy, whoops), and the horse we had in TX was nothing like the sales videos. Vinnie was sullen in corners and had no desire to move off trainers leg, going so far as to stand up with her multiple times, and just start backing up whenever he didn’t want to do something. The backing up also happened on the lunge line with me (my minor contribution to his fitness), along with spinning and a lovely episode involving hi, backing up so hard and fast that the line was ripped through my hands and he took off on a joy gallop, lunge line trailing. It would have helped if he had been just somewhat personal in the barn, but there too, he was sullen and just boring.

    Vin’s issue was specific to a physical ailment (apparently he hadn’t had his teeth floated in 2+ years, and still had his wolf teeth at 10 – casual), but I still spent 2+ mos having serious buyers remorse and imagining my ass on the ground the first time he stood up with me. I was also like, “shit, how am I gonna sell this horse that doesn’t go forward, rears, and rushes the jumps?” Luckily, about 3-4 weeks after his teeth were fixed, he started to turn a corner and actually become friendly in the barn. I started to enjoy watching trainer ride him, and I’m actually getting progress reports now, versus “well, didn’t die today, on,y stood up twice!”

    Long story short, it sucks going from your heart horse to an unknown quantity, especially when the path forward with them isn’t so straight and narrow as previously thought. It takes time and it is not fun and it’s honestly fucking discouraging most of the time. There usually is light at the end of the tunnel, though – hang in there, enjoy the amateur life while trainer fixes the hard stuff, and meanwhile give Simon a treat!

  24. I read through all the comments and have nothing new to add! I know you’ll do the right thing by him whether you love him or list him <3

  25. As I was reading through your post, I was thinking perhaps the disconnect has less to do with Roman, and more to do with where you are in life at the moment. I don’t mean to sound negative, and I hope I’m not overstepping by saying so, but maybe there’s just not room in your heart to really connect with something new right now. I’m experiencing some of these emotions myself, and going through a loss of a different kind, but I feel like I can really relate to what you’ve been feeling. For me, the thought of making room in my heart, and really putting in the time and effort it takes to make a connection with someone new, sounds exhausting.

    Or, perhaps time with the trainer is just what the doctor ordered to help you build that connection. In either case, Roman is lucky to have you in his life right now.

  26. No shame in not clicking. I was witness to a situation where a close friend bought a young, green horse to go further than she could with her gentleman of a childhood horse, but they just weren’t a good match. He was big, fancy, nice mover but just not fun for her to ride. It took her almost a year to come to terms with selling him, and I was working with him in the meantime, which shattered MY confidence because he just didn’t want to play and we got increasingly frustrated with each other. I do not miss that horse one bit and honestly he made me never want to look at another big, plain, chestnut TB gelding again. I’m glad you’re putting Roman in training sooner rather than later. They’re too expensive and time-consuming for it not to be fun for us. Maybe a month of intensive lessons will form a partnership that is closer to what you want, but if it doesn’t, there’s nothing wrong with finding a better fit for both of you.

  27. It took me a year and a half to really click with B, and most recently REALLY really click. Mostly due to his massive trust issues but some days I just wanted to yell at his face LET ME LOVE YOU OMG.

    Sometimes it takes time, sometimes it never works- that’s horses for you! I

  28. I’m hoping some great rides in your future and if not selling a horse while a big deal (because of time, hassle, dealing with crazies) isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things and you always need to look out for numero uno (you not jesus)

  29. I can relate to what you’re going through. Though I didn’t buy him and was graciously given the ride on Drifter, it took me a long time to click with him. I would say at least a year until I felt that he had fully “opened up” and we’d figured each other out from a personality level. It was hard sometimes, working with a horse that was perfectly sweet (mostly) but I felt a level of disconnect from. But I had no other options if I wanted to have a horse to ride, so I kept with it – and one day I realized that something had changed and it felt as if our partnership had finally, truly begun.

    At the end of the day, don’t worry too much. It sounds like you have a great plan in place.

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