Friday, January 8, 2021

Looking for Release

I see horses as a mirror that allows me to see into my subconscious in ways that very few other things do. 

What drives me. What motivates me. How do I talk to myself about it. How do I think about myself because of it. What am I trying to gain.

What am I willing to give up to get what I think I need. 

We can psychoanalyze that all day (and it's fascinating on a certain level), but the practical ramifications are interesting. 

I took Zoe down the ditchbank the other day. She was predictably slow away from home, then a little scooty wanting to go back to it. She can be mildly herd bound if she's not getting out regularly and she definitely does better if we do a couple rides with a buddy before I just launch into a long solo ride as we lose daylight. 

And like. 

She wasn't bad. She was a little jiggy. She stopped when I asked her. She wanted to be pushy, so I pushed her into a shoulder fore down the trail and she was like MUM UR SO MEAN THIS IZ HARD BOO but she did it. 

I knew that I didn't handle it well. I didn't really establish myself. I didn't train my horse. I just totally abdicated all responsibility, had a crummy ride back, didn't school it, didn't reassure her. I felt irritated, then untacked and went home. 

And when you have an actual disney horse, you can do that and she's still great the next time you see her. But maybe you don't take her down the ditch bank again because your coping skills are just not that good right now and you're having a hard time. You know that SOMEONE needs to school her, but you need it to not be you. 

So you play in the arena but GODDAMN you want her dialed and soft and ON IT right TF now and since you ride like ass (a conservative assessment), she's kind of stiff and heavy and not super engaged. It's ok. It's not terrible. She's not flipping you the bird, but like. Things aren't right. 

I went home. It's cold. I'm tired. The SO says "how was Zoe" and I have to explain to him how actually, she was pretty good. It's just that I expected a lot. And demanded a lot. And didn't give her any release. 

And actually what I interpreted as "her being heavy" was really "me refusing to give". 

And "her being stiff" was more accurately "me being rigid". 

As I explained all that, I realized that stupid mirror thing was happening again. She's fine. She's just being a horse. But when I don't have the emotional capacity to provide good training, she's going to be a bit lackluster. 

When I respond to her responding to me with an unyielding YOU WILL GIVE, all I'm doing to her is what I do to myself. 

Which is never give myself room to fail. I demand more, push harder, get through it, and when I do that, I penalize myself for my very humanity that is begging for a little mercy. 

I'm hard. I'm strong. It's a weakness. 

She's better than that. She's so just... I dunno. Inherently kind and pure. She brings her whole self every day and does her very best. She deserves someone who says "you can have an off day and it's ok and you're still my #1". She has earned that a thousand times over. And it's true--she can have those things. She just needs me to recognize it. 

She needs me to release.

Now switch the pronouns in that statement. Like the mirror does. Show me how I talk about myself. 

What am I willing to give up to get what I think I need.

I can have an off day and it's ok. That's a really hard concept for my overly-driven, very-intense self. 

I can tell my trainer that I need her to put a few rides on zb and then we'll take a couple lessons. 

And then I can go to the barn after work and ride my beautiful disney horse in a halter. Feed her cookies and say I'm sorry. 

I'll do better for both of us. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

2020: A Year in (Unusual) Review

My favorite part of blogging is the perspective I get from looking forward and looking back, especially at the end of the year. Usually I go through month by month and link to my favorite posts and put the best pictures of the year together and come out like "wow, you really did something" and "look what you need to do to move forward". 

Look who goes barebacksies in a halter!


I think we've all been living in the same 2020. I didn't even blog every month. Barely every quarter. 

Rather than doing a monthly summary, I'm going to roll with the 2020 summary post I've seen making the rounds, that I believe is credited to Alberta Equest

2020 Summary

What's the best thing that happened to you in 2020? 

Personal: HAHAHAHA OH MY GOD. Um. I'm an extrovert. I'm REAL BAD at shutdowns. I have a VERY HARD TIME with like. Not leaving my house. My life being out of control. It has been really hard for me to work through isolation (/living with my own idiosyncrasies) and seeing how those issues impact the BF (we live together) and how my own character weaknesses create my biggest problems. 

So like. I have a whole new appreciation for my own flaws and a roadmap forward to working on them. 

Also some great new coping mechanisms. 
is truck collecting a mechanism?

Equestrian: I spent a lot of time away from the barn this year. That solidified for me why it is I go there, which has been really good. I didn't have an amazing achievement, didn't go to a show, barely took lessons, but I really am starting to feel settled/comfortable with the way my horse fits around my life right now. It's not what it used to be but it's still very much something that matters to me. 

I was really struggling with the lack of proficiency I feel when I'm riding at a lower level than I remember being able to, but it's letting me take the pressure off and just enjoy my personal horse. It's a new thing for me, and damn, I like it. 

What's the worst thing that happened to you in 2020? 

Personal: I really dislike the passivity of saying things "happened to me" when I am an agent of my own life and I like to think I have some influence on the things I put myself in the position to have happen to me. Obviously, the whole pandemic didn't "happen to me", it happened to the entire world and I'm just a very small, very privileged part of that. 

But a lot of things kind of just happened this year. 

I guess for me it was having people I care very much about be isolated in a way I can't overcome and know that they have to be alone for reasons out of both of our control.

Equestrian: I watched a couple of friends go through really challenging situations with their horses and wasn't able to be there with them/for them in the way I would like to. 

What was your biggest purchase in 2020? 

Personal: Ummmmmm we'll go ahead and call my beloved Truck Truck a personal item. I was the sort of kid who had a dream truck and gave zero fucks about fancy dress parties and now I can officially say I have the truck of my actual dreams. It's a strangely lucid thing that I am really excited about. Almost offsets how expensive trucks are. 



Equestrian: I keep saying I dialed back the horse spending this year, but a quick review shows that I bought bought a jump saddle and a western saddle. So there's that. I made it official with a loaner jump saddle from the ever-intrepid Roxie's mom and then when we decided to get a little ranchy, she pointed me in the direction of a saddle that actually fits ZB really well. In an odd twist for me, I didn't sell any other saddles to accommodate the purchase either so I should probably clear some inventory... soon. Maybe. Iunno what else am I going to put in my garage... 


What was your biggest accomplishment in 2020? 

Personal: I'm on a challenging career track in a male-dominated field and I had some huge professional achievements this year. I could give you some work highlights and things I am proud of, but at the end of the day, the thing that matters most to me is having the respect of my crews and leadership. I feel like I'm in a really good place with that. 
putting that horse girl carhartt coat to work

Equestrian: Ummmmmm. Well. My goal with Zoe is always just to have a pleasant, well-rounded horse that I can bomb around on and she came through in a major way this year. I've been on the road a lot, my barn time is limited, and every time I see her, it's just solid, consistent fun things. 

So. It's not a show highlight. It's a life highlight.


What do you feel COVID robbed you of in 2020? 

Personal: Friendships. Oh my god. It's not that you can't have friends in the time of covid, but the little get togethers and spontaneous hangouts and the quick weekend road trip to see people I care about are all just gone. I care about my friends and I hate that in order to protect each other, we're forced into an all-encompassing isolation. 
gonna eat this sad pizza by my sad self

Equestrian: I could say I was kind of dabbling with the idea of going to a show, but realistically, that wouldn't have happened this year with how other pieces of my life played out. In a lot of ways, I am singularly lucky that my horse life was minimally impacted by the larger tragedies swirling around us this year. 

Were you subject to any COVID impulse buys in 2020? 

Personal: HAHAHA see also my entire amazon account. 

Equestrian: I can actually pretty much justify both the saddles I bought as things that would have happened anyways. I got a really pretty pad that I definitely didn't need but #yolo. Ummmmm oh yeah there was also a COVID sale for hufglocken and I got a super nice Mattes pad too. A draft size western bridle. At least 3 girths. 
it just occurred to me how funny it would be to put all the impulse buys on her at once
but who has the time?

It a little bit bothers me that I'm publishing this in 2021 but that's one of those things I'll just have to let go. We're moving forward. Things are good. I have a few more low key goals. Maybe next I'll write a post for that! 
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