Is it just me, or has this been a long week? This post is a rambler, so, fair warning!
I grew up reading this Emerson quote every day on the fridge. It comes to mind almost daily.
To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
I made it to the barn four nights in a row, and I will say that I noticed a huge difference in our rides with that type of consistency. I normally make it out Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and with summer being how it is with wedding photography, business travel, and just life in general, hardly ever on the weekends. Three days a week is about where I can maintain status quo with my learning it seems.
I talked with K after my lesson on Monday about goals and how to get there in a realistic manner (a challenge for me a lot of the time, that whole "realism" thing). I really want to show next year at two or three of the Open shows the barn goes to usually. Cost is, of course, a factor. So is the fact that we have miles to go before we are polished and I even begin to understand the nuances of showing, riding a pattern, etc. I want to strike the right balance with budget, time, expectations, and maximizing the time we spend at the show since it costs so much just to even go to one for the weekend.
Since K is an All-Around trainer her students show the full gambit of classes at the show and we have a great opportunity to learn the many facets of each of the different classes. I can remember thinking, "Why in the world would anyone do showmanship? It's not like it's hard to lead a horse around." Now I think that would be one of the hardest classes because I have no experience with it at all, and seeing how much practice it takes to have precision with only a lead line and body position is something I really admire. Still, that one may not make our list of classes in which we compete.
Right now, I am thinking Western Pleasure, Horsemanship, Trail, and maybe Hunt Seat Pleasure and Equitation. I don't have a saddle or bridle for Hunt Seat, a show saddle or headstall for Western, any show clothes, but I think I might be able to get away with my nice work saddle if I clean it really well. It has a lot of tooling (it's a used Bob's Custom reining saddle and I love it). I am sure our friends will let us borrow as much as we can, too. Show clothes are another huge "investment". (I like to call all my horse purchases investments, but we all know they are sooo not that in terms of money. Comfort and improvement investments, yes, monetary investments with a return, no.) All these thoughts and calculations involving money that my husband and I have not allocated to my horse addiction is stress-inducing, anxiety increasing, and makes me want to cry. Deep breath. Okay.
But, before I can even spend money on show clothes and tack, I need to spend it on training for Abbey and lessons for me, and you know, board and routine care and stuff. Abbey has been in training with K since December 1, 2012 when we escaped from the Little Barn of Horrors and moved to Boarding Heaven at K's. She started out in training five days a week, and stayed there through the beginning of the summer, when we moved to three days a week. She has come so far since December, and in a way I am thankful that we were late in starting her because she was not really physically or mentally ready really until she was almost four. (She had some work done with her, and not all of it was good, but that's for another day.)
We are going to try moving to two days of training for Abbey and a lesson per week for me. I also need to commit to five days a week of riding on a regular basis (my assessment, and I think K agrees). It scares me a little, but I am someone who hates to "fail". I still really hope I can make the dreams for next year come true, but I know that in order to feel good about them, I need to be fiscally responsible, maintain a good life-balance with my marriage, family, friends, work, and be fiscally responsible (wrote it twice to make sure I remember). Fiscally responsible. (sounds bland, doesn't it?).
I do constantly remind myself that I own a horse, a good horse who is kind and sweet and safe and who seems to enjoy her job and my company. I remind myself of the little girl who would flip through catalogues of horse things, circling what I would buy for my horse some day; the not so little girl that would wake up from dreams in the middle of the night of cantering across rolling fields; and the 30-something girl who was excited and terrified when the dreams finally came true less than two short years ago. The fact that I am where I am with Abbey today is amazing to me, and I am so incredibly thankful for her, her health, and our time together that when I remember this, I know that I have met the first goal I voiced to K when we came to her barn. "I want a horse who is safe, and calm, and happy that I can ride and enjoy." At the end of the day, even if we never go to a show, we have succeeded.