Monday, April 4, 2016

I Want What I Have Not Earned

Beefcake

I can't quite believe how far along we are in Boca's rehab. This week we passed the 6 week mark and are on to Week 7. We'll be doing the re-check/x-rays next week to get approval to go back under saddle. 

For the most part, lunging has been going great. However, Monday night I re-introduced the canter. And it was... not encouraging. Boca was literally throwing himself into it -- flinging his head in the air, lunging, flailing, running, corkscrewing his hindquarters. Basically he looked about as bad as he did pre-surgery. Maybe worse. I left the barn that night really discouraged. I felt helpless and overwhelmed.

Frustrated and disappointed are not feelings I am unfamiliar with in the horse world. I have had a number of people in different situations tell me I am way too hard on myself. When I see video of myself riding, I am disappointed by how amateur-ish and uneffective I look. I look... floppy.

My thought process usually goes something along the lines of the following: 'I have been taking weekly lessons for the past 6 years. How can I possibly still be so bad?"

For the first time, while driving to work last Tuesday, I had an original thought. And that thought was... I Want What I Have Not Earned.

You see, while others had a junior career, I was drinking.

Bareback, helmetless, drinking beer and getting high. 
Definitely not GHM approved.
 
Most of the riders and horsewomen I admire have worked their whole lives to develop the skills they have today. Years of owning and caring for horses, lessons, clinics, showing. Most are on their second, third or umpteenth horse. As the years passed and life changed, they made riding a priority. I was at the bar.

Faces redacted to protect the innocent
 
Not a horse in sight

I invented duck face before digital photography existed

As I drove into work, I asked myself why I thought I deserved to be a good, effective rider and horsewoman, when some of the best years of my young riding life were dedicated to drinking.

And before you think this is a big pity party, it is just a form of me coming to terms with my reality. I'm not going to have the knowledge to handle every situation that comes up with my horse - because I haven't earned it.

What I did do was immediately book a lunge session with a good pro. I brought my Pessoa rig and my side reins. I showed her what we'd been working on. She made a few suggestions and changes. Within 30 minutes, Boca was picking up the canter softly and quietly in both directions. Why? Because she knows what she's doing. Because she earned it.

I shall not forget the past, nor wish to shut the door on it. But I need to remember where I came from. My history is part of who I am. When I started riding again 6 years ago, I wanted to be a good rider. I still do. But when I compare myself to other people much further along than I am, I need to remember one thing.

They earned it.

16 comments:

  1. Good reminder for me today. Glad you got some improvement on the canter while lunging as well :)

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    1. Thanks! Wish I had video, but I cannot manage a lunge line, lunge whip and cell phone. I tried. It didn't help that every time I lifted my phone, Boca would stop and pose.

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  2. :-) This is a beautiful post, in a very gritty way. I admire it. So glad you and Bocca are progressing. You can't change the past, but you can learn from it to change your future.

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    1. Thank you. Your comment means a lot.

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  3. ^^ agreed and agreed - and bravo to you

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  4. I'm in the same boat as you, girl! I didn't focus on horses when I was in college, and before that I focused on all-around riding. It's frustrating sometimes when I say "oh, I've been riding for 17 years!" but really... I haven't. And I certainly haven't been JUMPING for that long!

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    1. I'm so glad you can identify! It IS frustrating trying to learn these skills later in life. I can find myself getting very discouraged. Especially with a horse of a certain age that is also trying to learn/acquire these skills. It can be daunting.

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  5. It happens to the best of us. That's how I spent my collage years :)

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  6. I definitely know how you feel! I often think "I've been doing this for 20yrs and I STILL make the same mistakes." But I had a pro tell me once to think of it in terms of actual hours. Not years. That experts take literally hundreds or thousands of hours to get there, and that's really hard for most armatures to accomplish on a part time basis. Anyway glad it was a good lesson!!

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  7. This is a great post and a great reminder! Thank you for sharing.

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  8. Your self-honesty is inspiring. Thank you

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  9. Wow, that's a hard reality but really true. Thanks for being honest...that's a good reminder for all of us and for life in general.

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  10. I'm primarily a lurker, but I commented on your blog a year or two ago. You and I have very parallel stories. I'm in 18th yr of sobriety, got sober at 17. I gave up my best riding years to drink and drugs. I too struggle with not being as good as I think I should be. We alcoholics/addicts have almost a superhuman ability to be hard on ourselves, we can never fully get rid of the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee in our heads. Every ride, every time I see pics or videos I go straight to what's wrong or what I could improve, rather than take a step back and look at the good, what I did right. It's something I constantly work at, don't know if I'll ever be totally free of it. All we can do is our best, one day at a time, one ride at a time. Sometimes one course at a time ;)

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    1. Thanks Lindsay! It feels good to have someone identify with my journey. I picked up alcohol and drugs at 16 and didn't put them down until I was 30. While I was out running, riding took a very distant backseat. I have to remember that. The skills I envy in others exist because those people earned them. Itty Bitty Shitty Committee indeed!

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  11. Love this! I may have focused slightly more on horses through my youth but I can totally relate to what you're saying. I'm not a pro, horses aren't my whole life, I don't have all the answers. It can be frustrating but sometimes I need help. And that's ok.

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  12. First of all stop comparing!! Comparing just leads to feeling bad about yourself (ask me how I know). Now I just need to take my own advice because I feel the same way sometimes lol. So I'm talking to both of us. ;) I'm glad the longe lesson went so well. Trainers are awesome! I miss taking lessons. I can't believe how quick his recovering is going. It seems like just yesterday that he had surgery. I can't wait to hear how his check up goes. Fingers crossed you can get back in the saddle because I know how boring hand walking can be lol.

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