Saturday, April 12, 2014

Thinking The Thoughts

 I know I've gone over this topic ad nauseum, but I still need more time to put it on paper and try and wrap my head around it. What am I, and what is O, and what are we, and what are we doing, and what are we going to be doing in the future?

I know what I need to help me redefine myself. I need some goals. I feel adrift in the ocean and unless I know which way to point the boat, I'm just going to be floating out here forever and I'm never going to see that island on the horizon that needs to be reached.

I've had a lot of time lately to think about All The Thinks, and namely they are all about what my specific long-term goals are for this mare. I have still been struggling a lot as of late with the neverending identity crisis I am going through (am I an eventer? What am I? Who am I? WHAT IS LIFE ALL ABOUT) and I am still trying to squirm my way out from under the Eventer label that I can't quite seem to let go of. I don't know what I am if I am not an eventer... until now I have never known how to do anything except event, really. I've never wanted to do anything except event until now. If it wasn't for O not really wanting to *be* an eventer, I think I'd still be carrying on eventing without a hitch. And if I really think long and hard about it, if O's riding career were to end anytime soon, I can't see myself continuing on in any one of these chosen new sports that I have been dabbling in. I'm not going to go out and buy a barrel horse after this, or an Arab for endurance, or something like that. You know? I think I would go right back to eventing if I could, although some days I can't stand the idea of ever doing it again. I don't know.

Basically it boils down to whether or not I am more vested in my horse or in my chosen sport. Plenty of people have told me to just get rid of O, to find a horse more mentally suited to the sport, and I do get where they are coming from. But when it comes down to it, I'd rather have this mare over any other... I care about her way more than I do eventing. For whatever reason she came into my life, she's here to stay.

In short, this journey is exclusively about this horse and I, and what all we can achieve on this planet with the time that we have together.

 And really, if all of the stars stay aligned and we both stay sound and happy, I think we can achieve quite a lot. I really do.

(Further introspection: it kind of feels completely right to have a horse with no particular label. I'm the ultimate 'so, what are you?' label-less kind of person, as much as I had no intention of being this way. I *want* a label, labels are comfortable, labels are relateable. I spent a lot of my youth floundering around trying to assign labels to myself, but nothing really ever stuck and I never was at home with anything really. Even now, into adulthood, I don't have any good terms to assign to myself, and I feel naked a lot of the time. I'm not a lesbian, I'm not straight, I'm not bi, I'm just kind of into transguys, and girls... what does that make me? Dunno, there's not a label for that. I'm into performance barefoot horses, but also into synthetics, and sometimes not even adverse to steel... what does that make me? Not really a trimmer, not a farrier... there's not a label for that either. Queer folks don't welcome me, farriers don't welcome me, trimmers don't welcome me. Once Texans find out I am not into Jesus and don't want a gun in every room of my house, they don't welcome me either. And on the horsey front, endurance people want nothing to do with me, barrel racers keep asking "so, you ride English usually I assume?", h/j folks look at me like I just escaped from XC/a zoo... and so on. You get the picture. We just don't fit in anywhere.)

Here we go with the break down... breaking things down into bite-sized chunks is kind of my specialty... or else I think I'd choke on it all.

So, we've already established that with A Horse That Does Everything, you should Do Everything, right? I love having a horse that I can literally put on whatever tack I feel like putting on and going and doing whatever I feel like doing that day. That is really awesome. And looking back where she was a year ago - unrideable and borderline dangerous - we have REALLY come far.

BUT, for the sake of progress, for the sake of bettering myself and bettering us as a team, I need some overarching long-term types of goals to aim for. If I don't have some real, concrete goals, I flounder. I've always operated on goals, and now I don't have any, simply because I just don't know what I want to be doing. This leads to a lot of tire spinning... a lot of me feeling like I am wasting time and not getting anywhere at all.

Things I want to do with this mare: Endurance, barrels, jumpers, foxhunting, maybe some team penning, some poles and some breakaway roping. Maybe some combined driving, some eventing, some dressage, if we ever really get to that. Maybe anything else that looks interesting and we decide to try (hunter paces, polocrosse, hell whatever we want really.... this horse can do it!) 

Things I want to specifically focus on: jumpers, barrels, endurance. (Which is interesting, because those are all disciplines that I once would have written off as some combo of stupid, abusive, and pointless. Different times, different times.) Those are things I think she could particularly be good at. While it is fun to play around and do All The Things... it's really fun to do Some Of The Things and excel at them. Or at least, work very hard and better better at them. You know?

I need to come up with some goals (i.e. what do we want to accomplish long-term within each sport, and why). This is going to take some more introspection.

 I'll think on that some more.

Pretty thing isn't she! A cloudy grey day doesn't keep a muscular little mare down... days without sun are annoying to me for multiple reasons, one of which being that the sun brings out her super glossy coat and the yucky grey clouds hide the shine.

But, she's still gorgeous.

Pmare is looking much better too... varying in degrees of soundness, but her weight has improved. She is just as much of a crotchety old goob as always... I lucked out catching both her and one of the kittens making goofy faces at the same time:

 I'd really like to get her back under saddle and going on short trail rides, but she's just not sound enough for that right now. Her stint away from home really worsened her ringbone... if she hasn't been moving around before I go to pick her feet, she has trouble picking up all four legs. Once she gets moving, everything warms up and she does better, but she still has quite a lot of pain in her left stifle and that is definitely worsened with work. She's quite fine and healthy for a pasture pet, and gets around great, but probably isn't a candidate for much more than that at this point. Poor old gal.


  1. I know this isn't the point of your post, but the one sentence there struck me.

    I grew up in San Antonio until I was 18, and lived another four years in Dallas. I'm agnostic and gun-averse (at least to owning, I'll go shoot a friend's gun at the range but that's about it) and definitely think gun control should be stronger. I promise you, you aren't the only one in Texas who doesn't love Jesus incessantly, or tote a gun around on your hip. We're just a lot quieter than the conservatives.

    I don't live in Texas anymore, but it's for a large number of reasons that largely have to do with the heat and lack of eventing (at least for an upper level amateur who has to count her days off from work), rather than the people. I love the people. Even the conservatives are nice as long as you don't shove being agnostic down their throat (at least the ones I knew, and ended up good friends with).

    I don't know if you've been able to visit Austin yet, but if you haven't, you should. They take Keep Austin Weird seriously, and I think everyone fits in, there. Because their claim to fame is diversity in character.

  2. I am a longtime reader/lurker (not sure if I have ever commented before) but have you thought of trying some ACTHA events? My heart horse (who I had put down over a year ago) was sort of like O, he could do a little of everything, but wasn't suited exactly for what *I* considered mself to be. We went to an ACTHA event on a whim (and only got to go once :( ) but we had a blast!! Maybe just another thing to try? I liked it because it welcomed everyone regardless of discipline, you know? Even if you were "just a trail rider" (hate when people say that) you could do this.

  3. I think you're on the right track. If you're a list maker like I am, you could sit down and write each sport you want to try on a different sheet of paper and then write down goals for each of those sports. If you write Combined Driving and list a bunch of long term goals, but then don't get around to trying it until ten years from now, there is nothing wrong with that. Having long term goals written down for each one might even make things clearer as far as which one you want to pursue right now.

    It's funny because having a horse than can do anything and everything has always been my long term goal hehe. It's too soon to tell with Chrome if he will be that horse, but I have my fingers crossed he will be. I'm different though in that I'm perfectly happy if I never compete in anything and only trail ride for the rest of my life, so it's no big deal if he can't be that horse for me. I feel the same way about him that you do with O, that it's all about him, not any one particular sport or activity. :)

    Sorry to hear Pangea is not sound. :( I thought ringbone was arthritis and that arthritis was better with exercise... maybe I have it wrong? What's up with her stifle? Is that an old injury? I know you've probably talked about all this, but it's been so long ago I don't remember... Does she limp on the leg with the bad stifle or does it lock up?

  4. Hey, be your bad self.

    I'm sort of stuck in a weird in-between place right now and I'm finding that I spend more time with people I actually like and less time trying to fit in. My horse isn't going to YEH anytime soon, but he's fun to mosey around on. Sometimes we jump. Sometimes we don't.

    I spend more time on the racetrack than I do at horse shows, but neither world is "mine". My equine role models are more of a "do it all" mutt than a purpose bred anything.

    So nothing helpful to add, just moral support.

  5. Many thoughts.

    First on your italicized paragraph. My initial thought is that you should try to find some people who aren't so caught up in labels. A lot of those groups that you listed are (in my opinion) often very caught up in their "label" and living the lifestyle of that label. They seem pretty judgy if you don't fall in line in every way that they do. My own little real life example is my husband being vegan and his friends acting like the vegan police. I know that's not the same as what you're referring to, but just remember "like minded" groups like that can actually be quite close minded.

    I know it's easier said than done, but have you considered Austin? Really, something for everyone here. There are so many different types of folks, and it's a friendly, friendly city.

    I'm glad jumpers are in your list of disciplines to delve into more seriously. I think you can tackle her adversity to ring work if you took some (not all) dressage out of the equation. Plus, she really does jump nicely. Some grid and some gymnastics and I don't see any reason why she wouldn't be competitive in the jumper ring. It's not eventing, but if you love the mare more than the sport (which I totally get, kinda there with my horse in some ways) than I think it's a really good option to pursue. Plus h/j people really aren't going to look at you like you came from a zoo - I definitely didn't!

  6. What about taking O to a dressage clinic or a cross country clinic??

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  8. As long as you are both happy - do your thing. Enjoy the journey ;)

  9. O is greater than any label you could choose, even if you were to pick 1 (or 2 or 3). She is more multi-talented than the vast, vast majority of horses. And YOU are to thank for that - you've given her the amazing foundation and opportunity to try out and succeed at numerous things. I think its healthy that you acknowledge why you feel compelled to have a label, but right now it looks like short-term goals are the way to go with this horse before you pick 1 or 2 disciplines to have long-term goals in.

  10. You are perfect as you are. Do whatever feels right when you make the decision, that is all. If it feels right to run barrels one event, then go long on a trail the next, sweet. You don't sound to have ever needed a label to operate under, and why be so inflexible? I don't fit in anywhere either in many ways, I never have and it has seriously impacted many areas of my life, but have grown to learn that some of these characteristics that make me weird or different and sometimes hold me back are actually good things and valuable points of difference from the rest of the hoi polloi..

  11. The whole time reading this I was thinking, "she must be in her 20's" Not sure how old you are but if I had to put money on it, I would say 20's. This is pretty much the description of how I felt for the good part of that decade. The introspection is keeping you on the path to figuring it out. In regards to your specific O/discipline situation two sentences stood out to me the most.
    "But when it comes down to it, I'd rather have this mare over any other... I care about her way more than I do eventing. For whatever reason she came into my life, she's here to stay."
    Really in the end this is the only thing that matters. The rest will work itself out. You'll see.