Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ruthlessly Exclude: The Journey

Emma wrote a post about why we do what we do. It's good. You should read it.

It's a topic I have put a lot of thought into lately for pretty obvious reasons. See, left to my own devices, I consistently pick horses like this:
hot, short coupled, fancy

hot, short coupled, fancy
See also: short coupled, scopey, hot Hot HOT, difficult.

They're talented horses. Athletic horses. Hell, if I could ride them, they'd go a long ways.

Yeah.

If.
mmhmm

Here's the thing: I grew up a barn rat and rode anything anyone would let me. I've worked for three different trainers. Subconsciously, I think of myself as that sort of ride-anything-go-anywhere sort of rider.

But like.

I'm not anymore. I'm not as young as I was. I have a lot of mental and physical baggage. I work a full time office job. I'm a one horse ammy and I need to start thinking like one.
moar naps

Admitting that is just the first step.

The scary part is what comes after. Because if I admit yeah, I'm not god's gift to riding and no, I'm not going Grand Prix (nor do I actually want to), then the next step is like. What do I want to do? Why am I here in the first place? What is it about the whole "horse thing" that keeps me coming back for more?

There's not a wrong answer.
such attractive
Here are some of my personal answers:

1) Horses are my outlet. The barn is my place to go where the real world isn't a thing anymore.

That means I need it to be a place I can relax and have fun, not a place where I'm struggling and pushing myself.

And that means I need a horse that's just as happy to toodle as I am.

2) Horses are also my way of understanding the world and being the best self I can be.

That means I need to have goals I can work towards. Not impossible, imaginary, pie-in-the-sky "dreams", but real life goals.

Which means I need a horse that shows up to work and wants to do the job I have in mind.

3) Horses are my addiction. I can't change my addictive personality, but I can channel it in productive ways instead of letting it destroy me.

That means that I need a horse that I want to spend time thinking about. One that's pretty to look at or fun to be around.

Which means the horse isn't a tool or a means to an end. The horse is a personality unto itself that makes my life more worthwhile.
this. this was good.

When I put those things together, the horse I see meeting those needs in my life isn't the short-coupled, hotter-than-shit, upper-level-prospect. I've certainly learned a lot from my horses--some hard lessons, some fun lessons, a lot of growing up lessons.

And those things are all (mostly) good.

The phase of my life where I worked for trainers and rode everything in front of me is over. Permanently. I love my ammy life and I love saying no to riding the stupid horses and I love having one horse I can bond with and obsess over and dress impeccably. I like going to local shows. I like riding in clinics. I like trail rides and photo shoots and zany adventures and random open shows.

I said I wouldn't horse shop until later this summer/fall. Definitely not until things with C are settled. I don't like having two horses.

But on the advice of Roxie's mom, I put together a list of must-haves for Horsie #4. Ruthlessly exclude, she said. And she has a Roxiecorn. So she knows. "Ruthlessly exclude" means setting realistic parameters for #4 and committing them to writing, then immediately ruling out all candidates that do not meet the parameters.
pictured: roxiecorn in action

So of course, I'm casually poking around. WHICH IS TOTALLY NOT HORSE SHOPPING.

"Ruthlessly exclude" has taken me down a very different path then I've ever been before. It has involved falling down some very interesting (and adorable) rabbit holes. It's simplified the process by removing that which shouldn't have been there in the first place. It's pushing me to find new solutions.

My situation is not settled (though there are potentially exciting things on the horizon), but giving myself permission to ruthlessly exclude has had the interesting side effect of letting me see the possibilities of the future. It isn't what I ever thought I would want, but the closer it gets to reality, the more right it feels.

The future is exciting, guys.

Stay posted.

67 comments:

  1. Man I love that. Ruthlessly exclude. It applies to so much more. Don't settle, cut out the bs. Be pure, be precise. Good advice.

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    1. ;-) Yeah. So much of horses has a 1:2 transfer to real life problems.

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  2. <3 this post. the future IS exciting! your points #1, 2 and 3 really resonate with me, and i agree completely.

    the moments of self reflection that it took for me to really understand what i want and need from my horsey life were.... well, actually pretty hard moments. honesty ain't always pretty. but now that i have that better understanding of myself, i can do a better job of aligning my horse life in such a way where - actually, i CAN do what i want, and really enjoy the process.

    i'm looking forward to following along in this next chapter!

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    1. I've always envied those people who were getting out there having the time of their lives, whatever that meant for them. Now I can be one of them? What?!

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  3. Stick to it! It's hard, but you can do it!

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  4. Thank you for writing this. I have to start being honest with myself about what kind of horse I need and the way that I horse shop. I don't necessarily like what my reality is, but I have to do something different this time. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. :/

    Also, I have missed your posts. The blogosphere is a less fun place.

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    1. I'm not gone. I just haven't had a lot to say other than like "my life is in limbo and it sucks", which is super shitty content. ;-)

      Here's to better tomorrows!

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  5. This is really good advice. Advice I think I should take when searching for my next pony. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. This all resonates. The big thing for me too is the barn is a place to regroup, escape, relax and being pushed right now on green horses or even talented ones isn't what I'm there for. I want to show up, be reasonably safe and have fun. I cannot wait to see what you pick for #4 and hope rehoming C is going well too.

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    1. Yeah. And that's not to knock people who have the time and money and ability and drive to do the fancy horse thing. It's just not me, not right now.

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    2. Exactly! There was a time and place where I had different, loftier, fancier goals and that's just not where I am at now, and I've finally accepted that as very much ok and good :)

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  7. Great points and wow, that just made me fully realize how stinking lucky I got with my mare. Sounds like you are finding good candidates for horse #4 though, def excited to hear more (:

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  8. You do you girl :) as we continue on our riding journey, most of us experience changes in directions, in goals, and in horses. Nothing wrong with any of that. It's just a matter of finding the fit that is best for you, and pursuing it! (which clearly, you're doing)

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    1. You're an inspiration. ;-) Love your girls.

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  9. What great advice! I'm with Leah, you do you (and come visit!). I'll be over here hoping it all goes exceedingly well and that #4 has a Roxie sized head so Brownie is in need of a loving home ;)

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    1. Haha yeah I laughed out loud for realsies. It could happen. ;-)

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  10. Good post and really good thought processes. You need a horse that makes you happy to go to the barn but ALSO one that can do the things you want to do easily and willingly. Looking forward to future posts!

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  11. Replies
    1. Hehe. Your lil Ms. Emi made me add cobs to the list for sure.

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    2. You can't beat a good cob. Too bad they are expensive!

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  12. I love the big, beautiful fancy warmbloods, but with my older body and my available riding time, I know they are not the horse for me. Instead I have a lovely, solid, forgiving draft cross, who stays under me, even when I lose my balance. I can take and do all things with my mare, while my friend with the beautiful, fancy warmblood stays mainly in the arena. Good Luck, you are on the right course.-carol

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    1. Oh, 100% I will continue to drool on fancy warmbloods at shows. I have nothing but admiration for the people who can ride them well.

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  13. I had also reached this conclusion when I sold my big red monster and then bought Dewey eight months later. The red one needed a regular program, and thrived on the show horse life. Financially, and realistically with where I am in life now, it wasn't possible. So now I have a nine year old puppy dog in a horse's body that enjoys toodleing around the trails with me, and getting brushed when I don't have time to ride. I was also the one that used to ride anything, and although im only in my mid-late twenties, those days are over, I'm not as brave as I once was. But they're still my passion. Good luck with the search.

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    1. Aww. <3 Sounds like a good outcome for everyone.

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  14. Fascinating post. I can't wait to hear more.

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  15. What a great post!

    (I just kind of want a Roxiecorn, really :P)

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    1. Well I mean. Anyone who doesn't want a Roxiecorn has deeper issues. Roxiecorn=champion.

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  16. I LOVE this post so much. It's taken a long time and a lot of courage for me to admit the same thing to myself. I LOVE going to the barn and not being scared, I LOVE being able to shop for cute things and not wonder if I'll ever be able to use them because I'm too scared to ride, I LOVE having fun and not need to go to the gym to be able to sit my horse's (pony's) trot. Every time I spend time with my friends who have Grand Prix goals I feel small, insignificant, wrong, silly, but I'm working on it. Ultimately (no matter what other people say) I'm more invested in making myself happy and so happy that I'm here.

    Wishing you so much luck with finding something amazing and fun and I can't wait to read more :)

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    1. To be involved with horses as an adult, you have to be a driven, type-A sort of person with GOALS. And like. Admitting your goals aren't high performance anymore is super hard. But damn, I feel better.

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  17. YESSSSSS I was practically cheering this post on with pom poms! I am totally on board with everything you said. There's a lot to be said for riding whatever comes your way, but there's even more to be said for having a solid, predictable AA-friendly one-and-only.

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    1. I'm picturing you with pom poms and giggling a little. This may have to feature as a paint drawing in a future post.

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  18. Yayyyyyy I'm excited and wI'll stay tuned

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    1. We'll call that option M. But you should come down and play with him anyway.

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  19. Sometimes it isn't necessarily our love of horses that changes - it's just our definition of what that love entails.

    For some people, it's the big competitions with their Numbero Uno horse. And for others, it's wandering down miles of trails on a loose rein.

    Neither are wrong and neither are less of a horse person for their choices or desires.

    We all strive to be the best we can be for our horses and we all strive to make the best choices for the horses we have - that is all anyone can do and that is all any horseperson should "judge". ;) Good luck on your search.

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  20. "It isn't what I ever thought I would want, but the closer it gets to reality, the more right it feels." And it's the best feeling in the world when you arrive to that new, never-imagined place.

    I'm so excited for you!

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    1. :-) It's not a bad place to be. Except the waiting. Waiting is murder.

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  21. Very cool and it is fine to take a look what is out there, it may take a while but think about it, you wouldnt go on a car lot without doing some research so by seeing what is out there....you will make better choices when you are ready. Oh but you know that you are going to find what you want and then be like DAMMIT :) HA HA I can't wait to read all about it!! Ruthlessly Exclude. I like it :) Have fun!!

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    1. Yeah, I definitely did hours of online research before setting foot on a car lot. Same idea--can't know what's out there and what's a deal until you look.

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  22. I didn't get a chance yesterday to express my thoughts on this, so here we go!

    I think a BIG, BIG thing for people like us (like most riders, really) without huge upper level goals and desires is that we need to get over what the rest of the world tells us we SHOULD be doing. The prevailing attitude is that we SHOULD want to get to the top of our given sport, we SHOULD want the best, fanciest horse money can buy, we SHOULD be driven and 110% devoted to getting as far as we possibly can in our discipline of choice.

    And that is all a huge lie.

    Because you and I are just as much real, devoted horsemen as the riders out there who are shooting for Grand Prix or Rolex or AQHA worlds. Our dreams and desires are just as valid and valuable as those of the rider who wants to go to WEG, and we shouldn't feel guilty or "less" because of them.

    I think it's incredibly hard to get past that especially as a blogger, when we share our horse life so publicly. To know yourself and have enough humility and honesty to say that you want a horse you can have fun on and take to shows and get decent scores with and just ENJOY without needing to have or strive for the very top of the sport takes a lot of guts! Because we're made to feel like lower-level aspirations are not enough, not valid, and make us less of a horseman.

    Bullshit. Get a horse you WANT to ride every day, do a sport that makes you giggle like a little kid on a pony. Be the best you can be at whatever level is right for you. THAT'S real horsemanship, and real honesty, and the whole point of this damn horse thing!

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  23. My horse doesn't cost me a lot of money as a general rule, but at this point in life, whether he costs me $100.00 per month or $1100.00 per month, I have to enjoy what I'm doing. If I don't enjoy my horse, it's not worth any amount of money.

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  24. You've made new assessments of what you want/need, now you can slowly fine tune them, try things out, and be picky. Very hard to do without getting grabby hands at all the cute ponies.

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  25. Clear-eyed criteria will become even more important as you get older. I was also a barnrat, the kid who'd sling a leg over anything and who jumped picnic tables for fun. But that was 40+ years ago. The reflexes are not there any more, any more than the drive is. I asked to ride a hot TB in a lesson back in March, took too firm a hold on the reins when I first got on, and she reared/spun, tangled her hind feet and went over hard. I am fortunate that all I broke was an ankle. Not healed yet, but I've dialed back my self-perception big time!

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    1. Yeah it's a hard thing to admit but better to do it than get hurt.

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  26. I grew up riding Arabians, so I'm with you on the hot horse thing! My last mare used to "teleport" 6 feet sideways with no warning when she spooked, which was no bueno on wooded trails (or the dressage arena). It didn't matter if I could sit the spook if she was still going to smash us into a tree. It took a long time for me to realize that it didn't matter how beautiful and friendly she was on the ground if she was not fun to ride. My back has never quite recovered from the last injury, and that was years ago!
    Best wishes on rehoming Courage and the search for #4!

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  27. This is why I have a (sensitive, intelligent, and energetic) quarter horse!!! Congrats on your epiphany.

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  28. So excited for you, and I hope your next pone will bring you as much happiness as Cuna <3

    I used to think I'd "get back at" the people who were nasty to me at my first barn by making myself love the misfit horses best, but after all I've been through with my first horse, I want my next to a) PPE OK b) be more conformed and bred for the job c) BE INSURABLE.

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    1. Life is too short to worry about what other people think. ;-)

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  29. You know it's funny how we can live across the country, and be in different situations, yet thinking about the same things.

    I had a long list of must-haves, and while Miles has some quirks that SUCK sometimes... he's also what I need. Sometimes that means certain things are harder for us, but it also means that in other ways I got what I needed. It's all give and take, but when you find it... it's just right. <3

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  30. I'm the same type of adult ammy rider as yourself. Showing has never and probably will never be a priority for me. I like learning, challenges, and doing all of those with a partner. Can't wait to see what you find out there!

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  31. SO exciting. Can't wait to hear more about this journey.

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    1. I get the feeling you couldn't avoid it if you tried.

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