Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thinking The Thinks, Part II

A little more introspection tonight, and I've come to realize a few things. Mainly, my biggest problem in ALL of this nonsense is just... ME. I'm the real issue here. And now I need to figure out what to do about that.

This post is probably going to be horribly depressing and boring, and also largely about me and not horses, so skip over it if that's not your thing.

I'm a little upset to see that I recognize this kind of strange state I'm in, when I really clear away the excess and take a good hard look at it. I was 16 when 9/11 happened, and I had such horrible PTSD from that experience that I spent a few years in a terrifying spiral - honestly it's a miracle I'm still here, I tried to kill myself so many times that statistically I should have succeeded at least one of those times! 
I got better eventually. I'm not really sure what fixed it, god knows it wasn't all of the therapies and doctors and hospitalizations that did it. Mostly I think the horses did all of the heavy lifting for me emotionally, and eventually I just sort of got better. And I was good for a very long time.

When Gogo died, everything changed again. Everything that I thought I knew - every pattern in my existence - completely fell apart, and I was cast out into the strange vast unknown, into a world I didn't understand and had no idea how to navigate through without my best friend there beside me. And I'm still, 2.5 years later, just not right. I'm not a fighter anymore, I'm a complete defeatist. I throw my hands up after every mildly bad ride and say, "she hates to do XYZ thing, I don't want to do this anymore, I can't do this!" I don't strategize and mull things over and learn better ways and tackle things again tomorrow, I just give up. I throw myself randomly at other sports and try to see if things will stick, but they never really do. I eat garbage food and sit idly on the couch for hours, because I just don't care. I gained probably almost 20lbs (I'm not fat but I'm definitely not the muscular, fit, trim little bird that I used to be). I'm stagnant and lifeless a lot of the time. I panic about trying to get back into the sport that Gogo and I once loved so much, largely in part because of the success she and I had together, and how I'm so terrified that it will have lost all the magic for me now. I can't even do a 20m circle without feeling defeated some days, or even trot a crossrail sometimes. More days than not, I find myself wondering why the hell I'm even on this planet, and what the point of it all is.

I'm not anywhere near as bad as I was when 9/11 happened, thank god, but it's a very similar state of being lost in this shocky kind of state following a really tragic event. I feel like I've completely lost everything that I once knew about myself, and now I still have no idea who the hell I am, where I'm going, or what I'm doing here and why.

How do you get your motivation back when you don't see a point to anything? It's not a very fun place to be in. And I don't have an answer for it really.

The sole consolation here is that I know a lot of you know largely what I am going through - you've lost heart horses too, and have new horses who you love and adore, but you just kind of feel like you're floundering and not picking up where you thought you were going to. I know you know how I feel, and I know how you feel in turn. And it sucks. It sucks a lot.

The good thing about all of this is that I know full well that I can't sit around and say, "oh well, O just hates to do dressage, or she has bad jumping form, or her tummy is going to be too sensitive for endurance, or she's too slow for barrels," etc etc, all the things I tell myself after a terrible ride... those are all excuse that *I* make in order to be LAZY. I am just giving MYSELF a reason to mope around at home when I say those things. I can't blame her hotness, or her past experiences, or anything else, because she is a product of her environment and training, and that means that I haven't been giving her the kind of rides she really needs to improve. This is a talented, fun, wild little mare, and if I work hard enough I know I can get there with her. But I have to look myself in the face and ask the hard questions of what I am going to do about this weird funk that I am in. How exactly am I planning to get out of this, what steps do I need to take.... how do I get my listing ship back upright before it sinks?

It's a weighty kind of thing to think about.

But, it is reassuring to understand, "it's not the horse, it's me."

 Dressage *is* for every horse. Every horse can do dressage. And every reasonably sound horse should do it. It may not competition-worthy dressage, but all basic dressage is is making a horse supple, responsive, and able to carry itself lightly and easily through its work. It doesn't have to be in a dressage saddle, or in a snaffle, or in an arena. Dressage can be in jeans and a barrel saddle and a hackamore and out on the trail - and we do that often! And that to me is quite satisfying, because I feel like we can really get some quality work in that way.

One thing is for sure though. I recognize this pattern in myself and I will not fall down the slippery slope again. I know where it leads. I'm not doing it again. I'm getting out of this funk before I slip any deeper into it.

The question really is, where do I begin...

By the way, I found some more pictures of the hunt, and O being of course perfect:

Can you find us in these shots? Look hard, we're in all of them!
And yes, that is a barrel horse in a western saddle with his owner in jeans and a sweatshirt, and a rope horse in a rope saddle. Because that's how we do in Texas.


  1. I always feel like horses have a way to help us through everything. Sending hugs and good thoughts! :)

  2. Begin really small. Like, super duper small. Pick the SIMPLEST element of something challenging (like a great dressage test) and have a win. And celebrate that win. And enjoy that win. And pat yourself on the back.... and go from there! That's the only advice I have :)

  3. I understand this. My horse of 15 years died in 2008. Like Gogo, he was an amazing talented horse, and I put so much into my relationship with him. When I bought Eragon in 2010, I thought I could do all the things I wanted to do w/ Fancy but never got the chance. I thought I could train a horse better/smarter/etc...but in reality, I find myself constantly comparing Eragon to Fancy...which isn't fair. E is only 7. He's 1/2 TB, sensitive and stubborn. But he's also loving and tries his hardest when I give him the ride I know he needs...but its hard to give him that ride, because a part of me is still angry about my old horse's death. A part of me is distracted.

    I feel that there is a parallel life where Fancy and I are still training together, where he's the horse I'm buying gear for and getting out of the field, the horse everyone oohed and ahhhed over because he was so special so beautiful so amazing....

    I know Eragon is amazing, too, in his own way. He's beautiful, too. He's full of charisma and power. It's just hard to start again. No answers here, but I think that time helps, and it gets better very incrementally. I'm staring to have more days where its all about THIS horse THIS moment and who I want to be going forward.

    Maybe riding with a trainer/instructor would re-ignite your drive? Having a neutral third party who can see talent and opportunities you cant see would help, I think...

  4. Since we just bonded overknowing the same people in Instagram, reading this post on top of that makes me think again, this world is so small, there may be 7 billion people in the world but most of us can 100% relate to each other. I had the same spiral and listlessness growing up, not the same reasons as you and not the same time or age as you but it was there and it was hard and I didn't think I would make it and horses saved my life. And I grew up and went away and started to build and Carlos was a part of that, the Keystone. And then I lost the keystone, not the same reasons as you and I'm not nearly as far out from the experience as you but yeah. The muffled grey shawl of sadness and listlessness is familiar and yeah horses are nice but its just not the same. I guess the mortality of them, of this, of us just changes it all.

  5. I don't know what to do either, and I am in a similar situation. I don't have any advice, but I like SheMovedToTexas's above. I think I will try that.

    You can do this! It will work out, probably not like you think it will (it never does), but in general, everything will be ok at some point! It might be work to get there, probably will.....but it'll be worth it!

  6. I think you are such an amazing horsewoman and person and I'm sending you hugs and positive thoughts. Getting out of a mental funk is very hard. Brainstorming options for you to consider:
    - medication (I'm very sensitive to medication changes, so see if anything you are on has a new manufacturer or something).
    - therapy (friend therapy and horse therapy counts, but cognitive therapists and other professionals continually develop new methodologies/tools that might help).
    - exercise (drop 2 of those 20 lbs and i bet you'll feel loads better).
    - wine (in moderation, and don't make any horsey plans!)
    - vacation (or a staycation. getting away from the normal routine for a few days sometimes helps).
    - complete diet overhaul (I've learned that some foods really affect my mood)
    - drink more water (I swear it helps).
    Sorry, that's all I can come up with right now. I hope may one or 2 might speak to you. Wishing you to feel better.

  7. Hugs to you. I lost a heart horse three years ago and it is a difficult thing to overcome, but you have to remember that Gogo was in your life to teach you about yourself... and now O is here to teach you more. Believe in that little firecracker mare. I think you two will get a lot farther than you ever thought possible - you just need to start healing first <3

  8. Ugh, I'm so sorry that you're going through this. I too recently lost my heart horse, after a long, heart-wrenching rehab attempt, and I've been struggling like crazy trying to figure out what to with myself ever since. I've been reduced to riding school horses again (seriously, school horses!) once a week in lessons because I can't seem to commit to even a partboard or lease situation. The major problem with me, too, is that I don't WANT to start over - it took years to build what I had with my horse - the trust, the experiences, the training - and it's so hard to start all over again. I've followed your blog a long time and I remember how hard you had to work for everything to come together with Gogo - though she was an amazing horse, she was never easy! - and in all honesty, I'm sure O would achieve great things if you give her the same chance. But it's sure a lot easier for me to sit around and give advice than it is for me to actually DO it (remember, I'm riding school horses here). I guess I would just say there are worse things than if you just enjoy O, doing whatever you feel like doing and not doing whatever you don't feel like doing. Maybe the goal with her can just be to heal and enjoy riding just for the sake of riding - and when you're ready, the goals and schedules and training and shows may just sneak back in to your life again.

  9. Andrea, I don't really know you and I'm in no position to give advice. But if I can tell anything from what you have written, I believe you are an amazingly determined and energetic person. I do not for one second believe that you are lazy - I have read too much about the gusto with which you set about things, and the thoughfulness and perseverance you show when reaching a decision. From what I know of you, I believe you are an amazing person, a force to reckoned with, a dynamo.

    I'll send you a message too (in case you want to read it), but I just wanted to say this here: you are not lazy. Please do not beat up on yourself.

  10. I'm currently in a similar state of being. I find myself numb or crying most of the time. I feel overwhelmed by the thought of just making it through the day. I admitted today to the wonderful lady I groom for that I haven't ridden a horse (of which I have 4 currently... yikes!) since September. She said "That's the saddest thing I've heard all day" And darn it all, it IS the saddest thing.

    I'm depriving myself of something I love for the sake of making things easier for others. I don't want to be selfish and take time for myself. So, I just sit on my @$$ and mope...

    I've been trying to get myself out of it, but I'm seriously considering going to the Dr. soon and seeing about getting on something so I'm not constantly crying and being a wimp...

    While it's not exactly the same circumstances, I know, exactly, the feeling you have right now...

  11. Yes I can relate to this as well. I'm very happy you recognize the signs and are finding the steps to take to get back on track before it gets as bad as before. That's a really good thing! Sadly I don't really have any suggestions other than the things already mentioned.

    I have battled depression for years (although not as bad as yours, suicidal thoughts never went any further than a passing thought for me) although not for the same reason (mine is a hormone imbalance), so I can definitely relate. Mine gets bad every winter and it sucks!! The only thing that brings me out of it is prettier weather and sunshine. Some of the things you said, like making excuses so you can be lazy, those are things I do too. Unfortunately since mine is worse in winter a lot of times I give in to those excuses and sit around doing nothing, which makes it worse. As soon as I start getting out and exercising in the spring I feel better. Also doing new things helps cheer me up (like when I went kayaking for the first time or when I got to meet Chrome's sire)... maybe it's the change of scenery. Obviously it's not always feasible but it's pretty much the only helpful suggestion I can offer. I hope you find your way out of this funk as soon as possible so you can go back to enjoying your beautiful girl. O is a special girl and you two will find where you belong soon I think. Hang in there!!

    P.S. I am also planning to try cognitive behavioral therapy as soon as I can find a therapist... mainly for my anxiety which is beyond out of control, but I think helping my anxiety will help my depression too since they feed off of each other. I know you mentioned therapy didn't work before, but I thought I would mention it anyway.