Friday, June 17, 2016

the "what if" rabbit hole

It might not have been clear to readers, but I had suspicions that this year would turn out very differently for my horsey life than last year. Tho how differently has honestly surprised me.

As early as last fall, it was looking more and more likely that I would eventually change jobs (started at the new firm in April!). Which, in a way, was convenient timing for my new employer bc I was laid up with a broken leg and was already living the life of limited horsing.

limited horsing is not best horsing
But it was clear that the new job would require significant adjustments in time and priority management etc (still ongoing, for the record!). Plus. Ya know. I had to recover from that pesky broken leg. So my last true goals post in December noted that I would not be writing new goals for the following quarter, and they've been left by the wayside ever since.

That's worked out perfectly fine for me too, since my riding so far this year has not exactly followed the trajectory I expected anyway.

My confidence was slow to recover after missing so much saddle time from the injury. Our jumping started coming apart at the seams in March (this post was the first time I wrote about crashing through the tiniest of fences from a trot...). And ultimately I decided to drop back to BN instead of N for our season opener at Loch Moy - in the name of confidence building, not confidence proving.

overcome your fears! literally!
The story didn't quite end there, tho, and a few more seriously shitty competitions (replete with eliminations, rider falls and withdrawals) brought us to where we stand today: focused 100% on correcting training holes, with any thought of competing pushed far out of mind.

This is hard for me on a few different levels. Yes, I love horses and even the quietest moments spent with them can improve my spirit and mood. Yes, Isabel is a very special horse to me and the investment I've poured into this partnership is immeasurable. And Yes, the work we are doing right now will ultimately (hopefully, fingers fucking crossed) make me a better rider and horsewoman in the future, even if it's not very glamorous right now.

But. (And you knew there had to be a 'but,' right?)

But dammit, it's just not what I wanted to be doing. And I'd be lying if I didn't say that Isabel's and my performances at shows this spring have cast doubts on whether Isabel is a realistic competitive partner moving forward.

all the pretty ribbons
The new job has meant that I have to be more careful with time management, sure. But the flip side is that the budget now allows for me to do all the things that might reasonably fit into the calendar. There's liberty now that is new and exciting and that I'd love to exploit.

It's a scary thought tho, and I suspect a very deep rabbit hole. So many 'what ifs' there.

What if Isabel isn't the right partner anymore? Frankly both of my jump trainers have reminded me that there are other horses in the world - and have both gone so far as to describe (unprovoked) specific creatures they thought might be good matches. And Isabel is not mine - let's not forget. She has a forever home with a woman who loves her deeply, if from afar.

she's pretty easy to love
So what if I go horse shopping? That idea is so shiny and sparkly and enticing - but not without its own frustrations and pitfalls (just ask Lauren and Britt). Plus - here's a wrench: my current barn is full, so I'd need to switch barns.

What if I move to OF? It seems like an obvious choice - I'd be able to keep my current stable (puns haha) of trainers. My current barn friends wouldn't be far away and we would probably still lesson together regularly. And ya know, have trailer, will travel right?

Except. Well, I work in DC now with a commute that spans 2hrs each way - and OF is even farther in the opposite direction. Sure, I only go into DC  2-3x a week... but wouldn't life be easier if I lived closer? And supposing Isabel weren't part of the picture, wouldn't I be a fool if I didn't at least explore the possibility?

the path forward?
Aaaaand that's about as far as I get into the whole chain of "what ifs" before burying my head in the sand at the sheer horror of all that potential change. I'm a creature of habit, what can I say.

So rather than actually addressing any of those questions, I continue to plug away at fixing the problems in my ride with Isabel. It might not necessarily be easier, but at least it's a known evil.

We will see what comes first: things improving enough so I can get back to doing what I love doing with horses in the first place; or acknowledging that my goals (vague and nebulous tho they may be) are not a match with what Isabel has to offer any more. Time will tell, I suppose.

33 comments:

  1. It's a weird hole to go down, for sure! I think you are doing the smart thing by continuing to work with what you have until the right opportunity presents itself in the right time. But it's no fun for us goal-oriented, must-be-working-towards-improvement-at-all-times types to not be able to have a concrete plan. You'll find the right path forward, I know it! :) <3

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  2. Sometimes all you can do is throw everything out there and then start to see whats aligning before choosing a bath, and you know what there is nothing with doubling back and trying something else out. There will always, always be other horses and barns out there.

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  3. The "what if" hole is a terrible place! (I spend at least a couple of hours a week in it, mostly thinking about when my ancient horses will die.) Doing what you can to improve is never a bad idea- even if Isabel ultimately isn't your competition partner going forward, you'll have improved yourself for the next horse!

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  4. Yeah, that's a rabbit hole, for sure. Sometimes if you give the situation a bit of breathing room and time, the correct path forward will become clear and you're in absolutely great shape here, because no matter what you decide, Isabel will be in good hands. As well, you have a horse to ride *while* you decide what to do next, and trainers/instructors who can work with you for right now until you've decided something. You have the freedom (because not-owning Isabel) to explore other barns. You can shop for other leases or even consider ownership of a horse. You could think about relocating self and horse-activities to a closer-to-work region... so many choices, but none of them require you to immediately give up the comfort of current barn, current horse, current trainers. Take the time you need to make the right decision for you.

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  5. Doesn't Austen live in DC? Could you board where she keeps her horse? (To add more what ifs).

    Horse shopping is frustrating but I think it's normal for you to consider. I definitely had the thoughts with Houston and though it worked out a little different than the normal horse shopping progression I am really happy Annie came into my life.

    I hope whatever happens works out for you :)

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  6. That rabbit hole is tricky. I think it's worth giving Isabel her best chance at being the partner you need by throwing all of the training/lessons/improvement opportunities you can at her. But it's also important to keep in mind that if the horse just isn't going to be right for the job after all of that, it's not fair or kind to either one of you. So maybe keep the horse shopping a possibility in the back of your mind, but also don't give up just yet? Just my two cents at least.

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  7. I wouldn't want to be in your shoes. Even thinking about making those sort of life-changing decisions makes me anxious!

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  8. I do think that you are doing the smart approach by working with what you have to see if it's the long term answer. Because as you say there are a lot of different paths once you head down that rabbit hole. Maybe a less scary question to start with would be what would you do if your current situation with Isabel suddenly changed and the lease was no longer an option? It would be a similar problem for different reasons. Wine and chocolate are great friends for thinking about that rabbit hole.

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  9. I'm in a big what-if hole myself thinking about my future as a non grad student making real(ish) money and working somewhere that would also be a 2 hour commute and wondering WHAT THE FUCK I am supposed to do with myself in this situation. And to add horse what ifs on top of that?! Holy shit girl. txtmsg me if you ever wanna chat and/or commiserate because this sucks.

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  10. That's quite the rabbit hole. I leased a nice little QH mare for years, and eventually realized I needed to move on. I just knew. Sure it was sad, but I knew it was time. I moved on to Mikey. I knew it was time to move on from Mikey when the flying changes started failing spectacularly- Trainer started mentioning that I should be looking for my second horse, and how to fund my second horse. One to have on deck and ready to go in a couple years, to pick up where I left off with Mikey. I'd never sell Mikey though, and I couldn't afford another horse unless I sold him. I decided I would do what he could do, and beg, borrow, and steal something else on occasion if he couldn't do what I wanted to do. Isabel does have a loving forever home, and I'm sure you'd be more than welcome to come see her and ride her since her owner is far away! The changes you're talking about are scary for sure- new horse, new barn, etc. I was terrified to leave the barn I bought Mikey from- I'd become so reliant on my instructor that I couldn't think for myself. On the plus side, you don't have to do anything right now. You can take however long you want to think it over!

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  11. I'm pretty sure that of late I've been living in the rabbit hole... The rabbit hole is a scary place but sometimes it is also a necessary place. At the end of the day it is about what makes you happy.

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  12. It is scary, but leaving what is familiar and known always is. I've always been one to take a lot of risks. Some haven't worked out, but more have. I was always afraid to wake up one day and realize I had never gone for what I really wanted.

    Each person is different, but sometimes you have to leave things behind in order to move on to better things. Only you can decide if it is worth the risk :)

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  13. There's nothing I can say that helps you make your decision, so hugs and beers instead. :)

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  14. Sometimes we have to let go of things for the new things to come....it's never easy! When I had to say goodbye to my childhood mare due to circumstances beyond my control I was heartbroken. But she ended up being the special friend of a little boy who really really needed her and she and the boy went on to have many adventures and win lots of ribbunz! Hugs!!

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  15. This has been a recurring rhetoric among equestrian bloggers this year! The path forward is murky... until all of a sudden it's not. One thing I will say is that those who have waited until the right thing to do presented itself have been happy with their choices and have no regrets.

    So take your time -- there's no rush.

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  16. Although it's not the path you had planned, it's really wonderful that you have SO MANY options! Take your time in figuring things out, and know that whatever you decide, it doesn't have to be forever!

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  17. Oh my gosh, I love rabbit holes (but I am a total change whore!). I see you getting a big bay draft/thoroughbred cross mare, killing it xc!

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  18. The devil you know... I have similar rabbit hole thoughts, though mine are because I want to change and I want to move. But I think most people do. But just keep doing and just keep riding. Those are the most important things. There were and the what are secondary.

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  19. For me, this kind of stuff works if I put a timeline on it. I've done that before with great success. It prevents me from going farther and farther down a hole just because i'm already on that path

    Your situation allows you a lot of freedom, use it to make the choice that makes you happiest.

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  20. I'd do what you are doing: open to possibilities, but just keepin on keepin on. And yes, it will make you a better horse person ( or at least that's what I tell myself every time this same topic gets brought up in my life ;)

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  21. It is awesome that you have so many possibilities but I can totally understand that it is also stressful and confusing. I do think sometimes you can make something seem more real and see how that makes you feel - more excited or more scared? Like, if you look online at horses or go test ride one, hang out at a new barn, etc.

    When I was thinking about selling Fawkes a friend convinced me to put up an ad saying I didn't have to go through with it if I didn't want to. I expected to freak out when people started calling but all I felt was relief. So for me at least, that helped.

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  22. The rabbit hole is a dangerous place to be. Just take your time, my mantra has been that if it is meant to be, it will just kind of appear and work itself out. Keep yourself open to options but just keep going on and see what happens. And, of course, vent here with us bc we all understand better than anyone in real life haha!

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  23. Okay, but WHAT IF you moved back to Rochester and bought Bobby? !!!

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  24. Hmmm... it's a tough "spot" to be in, for sure. I am going through my own "what ifs" as well and it's a difficult place to be in since you cannot see the future... It sure would be helpful tho.

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  25. *hugs*
    I don't envy your choices, but as everyone else has said you have the luxury of time so take full advantage. You can basically have the best of all world's as you have your cake and can taste others too ;-)

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    1. Play the field, wet your feet and see what sticks

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  26. It is at least a huge benefit that Izzy has a home, no matter what. You don't have to worry about her ending up in a bad situation *if* you decide to explore other options.

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  27. I've gotten more into taking the unknown path vs the known path lately. I think it's more due to boredom though! I've found that taking chances normally works best for me. I took a chance changing barns and finding a new trainer and it paid off. I know exactly how you feel, especially when it comes to figuring out what to do with your equine partner. Ultimately, you're in a position that really allows you to think about you. I'm a bit envious haha. If I was just leasing, I would have moved on from Fiction some time ago :)

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  28. that is a lot of what ifs...you know we are always here to talk if you want to bounce ideas off us!

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  29. I'm actually really happy to hear you opening up this rabbit hole for yourself.

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  30. I'm right there with you. The thing I have to keep reminding myself is that I have to let the right thing happen. Sending you all the good vibes no matter the verdict.

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  31. Does the new job bring any new mental stresses to your life that weren't there before? Could those affect the whole Isabel stopping thing / your riding in general more than before? In the past 4 years with my two, I find that I can look back and correlate work stresses (and sometimes other personal stresses) directly with behavioral/training issues in the horses. My mental state presented physically by them in some fashion. And nearly every time, it's taken me moving past or rising above the stress to get them back to being solid! Just a random thought after reading this. You and Isabel are a very good team, methinks. This stopping stuff is just a bobble and life will be awesome again really soon!!

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  32. I'm always down the rabbit hole. Stand by- I'm emailing you

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