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