Wednesday, October 16, 2019

nobody makes me bleed my own blood!!

I wrote a few weeks ago about not really handling my mentality and attitude particularly well this year. Sorta like reverse SADs or something like that.

Honestly tho.... At least in my situation, I tend to view most aspects of "attitude" as a choice. Obviously this has nothing to do with the chemistry of clinical depression, and I'd never ever ever try to suggest that anybody suffering from depression is doing so by choice. Bc... Yea, that's fucked up haha.

iggy is charlie's best friend, and when his mom was away for a few weeks charlie made it his business to make sure iggy stayed safe!! <3 he says, "i got you covered, iggy!"
But generally speaking, over the years I've adopted a personal philosophy that can more or less be explained by, "Don't complain unless there's nothing I can do to improve a situation."

So, in other words, before I let myself be consumed by wallowing in some vicious cycle of self-fulfilling pity parties.... Well, it's worth taking a moment to figure out whether there's a better way.

pictures are completely unrelated to today's post, and are all from a recent big group trail ride!
Not that I don't love a good wallow as much as the next person (bc let's be real, sometimes that's a very necessary indulgence in life...) but it can't be a permanent state.

do you recognize this barn yard?!? it's izzy's old farm!! 
For me, wallowing has been a bit like... a nasty case of the "don't wannas." I didn't wanna horse show. I didn't wanna put myself out there. Didn't wanna be vulnerable, or expose myself to possible failure.

the farm backs up to the gunpowder falls state park and the trails are incredible
A lot of this I think stems from trying so hard to move up a level. The fixation on this honestly arbitrary measuring stick. And ya know, I do want it. But.... It's probably not happening this year. And actually? That's a-ok. It's just taken me a little while to understand that this one little realization was kinda holding me back.

i've been dying to get charlie over here for... .well, years now haha
Which is silly because I knew all along that setting big ambitious goals tends to have this effect on me. Remember - that's the whole reason I took a fresh approach to actual goal setting this year, so that I could focus on the component processes toward a big milestone such that even if we didn't hit the actual milestone itself, we'd still theoretically put together a year of happy horsing.

finally it happened tho!! and i still remember all the trails like the back of my hand
Those component process goals, in case you forgot, were:

1) Continue preparing for a move up to T
2) Organize necessary paperwork + memberships
3) Plan a thoughtful calendar considering favorable venues
4) Budget appropriately and realistically (and early)
5) Maintain a comprehensive wellness plan for Charlie
6) Invest in developing my skill set and toolbox as a rider
7) Focus on positive experiences and additive mileage
8) Be flexible and accept setbacks with poise, bc #horses
9) Enjoy the ride!

we've got some pretty decent space for hacking at charlie's farm, but this place is unparalleled 
So, how did that all work out? Here we are in the final quarter of the year and I can honestly say that when viewed through the lens of these component pieces, this year has actually been pretty freakin spectacular. Especially that item #6 - investing in my own education as a rider. Yea, we've done a LOT in that department haha.

look at all these big wide open hills!!
Just going through and updating my "Events" page here on ye olde (poorly neglected) blog a few weeks back really helped snap me back to reality, out of my little sad sack navel-gazing doldrums. Because damn, we've actually done a LOT this year, and it's not over yet.

honestly i miss it sometimes...
I also recently rewatched the Purina Stories of Greatness: Boyd Martin profile video. Which like.... If you haven't watched it, you totally should. It's great on so many levels haha. One part really stood out to me in this watching tho - when Silva was expounding on all the shit that had happened to them, and yet they still kept fighting.

brief pause in the trail recap for the stories of greatness video link here

Like... Falling off at a horse show is barely even a blip on the radar for these people. Having to take two steps back in order to get one step forward is par for the course. That's just the nature of this game with horses. At some point, everyone who rides will get pushed onto a back foot and will face a choice on whether to stand down or fight for more.

aaaaaand back to the trails haha. ooooh looky, who remembers krimpet?!?
For me, this boils down to the small choices I make every day with horses, and the adjustments I can make in my attitude. Somehow my attitude this summer got a bit infected, I started worrying too much about how everything could go wrong, how I could mess up or make a mistake or let my horse down. And the fear of those unknown failures paralyzed me.... Made me feel like maybe it was better not to even try lest those worries become reality.

we actually had a pretty big and varied group
Turns out, tho, that attitude made me feel even worse. And the longer I went without putting myself back out there, the worse I felt about our prospects for doing so.

fun times splish splashing through the creek <3

So we're getting back out there haha. Gonna do some things. Have already done some things lol. Like the hunter trials!! Can you believe it had been since May that I had ridden any sort of full length course? We desperately needed to just get out there and run and jump.

emerging back up around the pasture lanes after a giant climb up from the creek bottom
Even doing it once wasn't really enough to dispel my feelings of angst -- I honestly did not want to go a second time and kept trying to come up with excuses to bow out. But thankfully I didn't bow out, and we did the second run, and it was even better. THAT is the feeling I need to hold onto -- not the perpetual worry telling me, "Hm, maybe this isn't a good idea..." but that feeling of happiness that can only come after the deed is done lol.

and returning back to the barns after such a pleasant jaunt out. this was basically charlie's best day ever haha
I also went ahead and sent in entries for a couple more horse trials this year. Which... Ya know, obviously anything could happen bc #Charlie is the #KingoftheDings. But I'm getting excited about it, getting pumped up haha.

can you imagine having nearly 50m of climb right out your barn's back door??? no wonder it was always so easy to keep our horses fit there!!
Fall is my favorite season for riding, so why not try to put together a fun little schedule to finish out the year??  Plus I have basically the best horse in the world, shouldn't I be out there enjoying him?? Yes, the answer is yes haha.

So that's what we're gonna do. Even if it takes a friggin taser to keep my recalcitrant ass marching forward. Anyone else out there trying to turn the proverbial leaf before the year is out?


  1. I ❤️ This so much. Horses definitely teach resilience. Or else we’re masochists and THAT can’t be true. Right?

    1. ha definitely not masochists, no way, nuh uh, how could you even think that?!?! lol... ;P

  2. Ugh, those doubts can definitely creep in and take over, don't they? It can be so hard to dig your way back out of that hole, but I'm so glad you're finding your way!

    1. ugh yea i feel like we always have to somehow keep digging that hole deeper before we realize we're going the wrong direction, right??

    2. Oh, for sure! This sport is so hard, physically and mentally. I think sometimes you have to hit that emotional rock bottom before you're like, wait, wtf am I even doing here?

    3. yea, that's the great thing about horses tho is how much they can teach us in recognizing those negative patterns and refocusing on what's really important!

  3. I basically lived in doubt the entire last year with gem and first year with Eeyore. It isn’t a fun or productive place to be. Trainer AB has been slowly chipping away at that for me and I’ve found that going and doing is really the best medicine. Glad you are getting back out there and enjoying it!!!! Also, love those lightning bolts on the ears.

    1. ugh the doubt is SO unproductive, it drives me crazy. and yet it's so hard to get rid of it. even as i find myself encouraging all my friends to just get out there and have fun, i couldn't take my own advice. so obnoxious. anyway tho, we do what we can to fix it, right? and i'm so glad your new trainer has helped you get excited about doing all the things now too!! :D

  4. My new leaf is the complete opposite. I'm in a place I never thought I would be. I don't want to compete anymore, and don't see that changing in the future. Some of it has to do with monies, ofc right? but also realizing I don't need to prove anything to myself or any one else. That is new for me to not want to get out there and see what I can do.

    ...Hopefully it isn't really just the Angst running amok though....

    1. omg i know exactly what you mean tho about the doubt of "is this just the anxiety talking tho?!?"

      honestly tho i think it's so so so important to sit back and ask ourselves if this is really what we want, esp as it relates to something like horse showing. i know countless examples of people who show bc they think it's what they "should" be doing or "should" be wanting, or like you say feeling like there's something to "prove," and that's a fast track highway to stealing all the joy out of horses.

      the bar i ended up setting for myself this summer when it came to entering shows or whatever was, is my answer to doing this a resounding "HELL YES!"?? and.... if not? then that's not good enough. if it wasn't a HELL YES, then it was basically a no. so i took that break. for me, the break eventually showed me that i DID want to get back out there, but i had to do so carefully and for the right reasons for me personally. regardless, tho, it took stepping away to figure some of it out. here's hoping your new leaf brings clarity too!!

  5. I totally feel you. <3 this 100%. That circling wheel of knowing you need to do something, feeling anxious about it, then not doing it and then feeling even worse for not getting out there I can so relate to. It's so hard, and yet sometimes we just need to kick ourselves in the ass and make ourselves get out there. Even though I get to ride Amber now, I STILL doubt whether I should be doing it. I'm happier, SHE'S happier, but really is this the right thing?? I've tried to be positive, like "oh, she's feeling better today" but then I worry I'm still aggravating her... Ugh, never goes away. It's that vicious circle haha. So, I try my best to ensure I just pay attention to what she's telling me, and enjoy that I get to ride her again at all lol

    1. uncertainty is the absolute worst, worse than so many other emotions i think. i hate not knowing the answer, not knowing if what i'm doing is "right" or "wrong." tho luckily with horses, there honestly seems to be very very few truly WRONG ways of doing things, and many RIGHT ways. in Amber's case, there's pros and cons to every choice around her lifestyle, but it seems like you're doing your absolute best to make sure you're supporting all her needs. and that's basically the best we can do, right?

  6. I get this, even though I tried REALLY hard, that big fat goal of the AECs caused some serious anxiety in me and made my body do things it hasn't done in a long time, and not in a good way. Since actually meeting that goal I've been burnt out- so I am also in the I-don't-wanna bus. I'm going to let myself ride it for a little while then think about starting back up... which I think is ok! We can't be go-go-go all the time!

  7. Dude just the intro to that video was inspiring! Yay I am happy for you, it can be tough to climb out of a funk or even recognize when you are in one and you are doing something positive, putting one foot in front of the other. You and Charlie are a great team and you've already done enough to be proud of, so don't worry you won't be a failure and your partnership will continue to grow.

  8. Me, me! I need to turn over a new leaf!
    Thanks for the inspiration. Loving your attitude and loving the continued use of Charlie's lightning bolts hat too :)

  9. Thanks for sharing <3 It's so easy for things to become self-fulfilling prophecies, and this is a good reminder to identify and break that cycle if/when necessary.

  10. Yay for wanting to do the things!!
    And... you're lucky to live somewhere where you have so many options! It doesn't have to be only horse trials- it can be trail rides and paper chase hunter paces, and hunter trials. All so valuable in so many ways, but without the financial commitment of doing a horse trial. I'm hoping you have the best fall EVER

  11. Sometimes we are crazy similar haha.

    I am the queen of talking myself out of things with the what ifs and it only makes me feel worse.

  12. Thanks for sharing. Glad to hear you are doing better and you are Mr. Charles are getting out for some adventures together.

  13. k, but that ear bonnet tho

    it took me wayyyy longer than necessary to figure out it is indeed pasted on the bonnet and not photo-shopped in, haha.

  14. I've re-watched that Boyd Martin video a bunch of times and it never gets old. Seriously motivating. We all get in that headspace and I think that's ok. Hell, I'm in it now. But you and C have come so far and will only continue to get better. And I have no doubt you WILL move up and it will be sooooo sweet

  15. I feel ya on both sides! I've been out of the game so long, it's really kind of scary to jump back in. So many reasons not to. But once I have a sound horse and can jump enough fences in a row without almost dying, it will be time. Gotta face those anxieties and show them who's boss! And the more you do the better it gets so long as you don't let the mistakes steal your focus. Good for you for getting back out there and enjoying your horse!

  16. This summer I went out and Showed My Horse at the lame little local dressage show series. At, yes, super-dumb beginner Intro B and Intro C tests. But I went to the three outings and I actually had OK scores at them. I learned to breathe in the ring. I got the go-ahead (from regular instructor and regular clinician) to move up to Training tests over the winter because really we can reliably do all the stuff in Intro at a solid level of doing and it is now too easy for us. The advice from the tests (Use Aids To Get More From Horse) was, once I stopped being angry at it, helpful as all hell. After a month and a half of Actual Marching Walk, horse is visibly bigger and more muscular about the hq. He's also more forward, more reliably. I've stopped grinding with my heel (!!).

    Last year really, really sucked for me on the horse front and I was quite depressed by spring... so I made a simple, clear goal that I could work towards. Go to the three little local shows. Do the Intro B & C tests. Actually work on this instead of (or more-realistically, WHILE) crying all the damn time about the dead baby horse and the dead mare. It helped, some. I don't love showing at the best of times and I still cry. But having a goal got me out of the house and riding my not-dead horse and so it was, on the whole, a good thing.

    For the winter, we're going to take another stab at a spring 30-miler. That will give me something to ride towards over the cold months. Here's hope for a not-very-snowy winter!!

  17. I think you're onto something regarding doldrums. Even in the realm of clinical psychology, cognitive and behavioral therapies (translate: changing thoughts and behavior which in turn improve emotional well-being) are strongly supported by experimental studies. There is still so much we don't know about the entire spectrum of depression, but attitude and action certainly affects it.

    I've been researching the growth mindset versus fixed mindset. Dr. Carol Dweck brings up depression in her book The Growth Mindset and basically says that depressed people or people who are experiencing negative emotions feel the same feelings, but they choose to act on them differently. The people who get up and function through the discomfort experience a better general well-being despite their problems.
    It's all very interesting. Resilience is so important!


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