After C’s 3-day break, we’ve gone back to our scheduled programming, working on the flat with true bend (not the fake stuff, C, I can tell the difference) and building up baby muscles a little more. A friend at the barn was kind enough to let me try her dressage saddle on C, and what do you know! It actually fits, and fits pretty damn well.
Everything seems to be resolving itself there, but I was doing some thinking the other day (as I occasionally do in my free time) and projecting where I’ll be in a year, or perhaps two.
As some of you may know, I graduate from college with a BA in English and an emphasis in Creative Writing this autumn. While I am thrilled, because school never suited the type of person I am, I’m also vaguely terrified. As of now I have three options coming out of school and they are:
- Move back home, get a job there, and keep C at a more pricey, upscale eventing barn. It would still be cheaper than paying my own rent plus C’s, but I don’t know anyone there. Facility is very nice so I have no fears there. I am, however, slightly concerned I’ll end up employed in customer service.
- Find a job here/in the area. This would be ideal, except that it has to be a nicely paying job that will pad my resume, because A) Rent, B) Board, C) Food, and D) Career. I really like C’s current boarding situation and he’s happy where he is. Summers here, though, pretty much destroy me because they contain all the heat of hellfire.
- Go somewhere completely different. I’m looking right now at a very well-paid, very emotionally rewarding job in Tacoma. Those of you who don’t know me personally don’t know yet that I adore rain. Like, I love it. I don’t mind riding in it (though Princess C might) and I love drinking coffee inside watching the rain. I like the sound, the smell, the noise… anything rain is something I love except perhaps smudged mascara. Point being, I want to live in Washington eventually. I’m just not sure now is the best time. Similarly, I don’t know any barns in the area so I’d be going in blind with C.
Along this vein of thinking, I was wondering where C and I would be. There’s no predicting, as horse people know, the bumps and blocks in the road. It takes a special kind of horseperson (like the aforementioned friend) to withstand all those bumps and blocks. They hurt, they suck, and they make it harder to persevere in this sport.
There have been numerous times that I almost quit. Danny was the first horse that made me doubt that I’d ever succeed in (or be happy with) my riding. Don’t get me wrong– he taught me tough lessons that I needed to learn– but it was a pretty brutal teaching method. I almost quit my sophomore year in college because I had maxed-out credit cards and I didn’t have the mental capacity (or organizational skills) to juggle school, a job, and riding.
I feel strongly, now, that where there’s a will there’s a way. I am currently juggling school, a job, and riding, and I’m (relatively) successful.
Yesterday I came home tired from studying for midterms, after a seven-hour workday, two hours of class, and recovering from a cold. I was frustrated from all the saddle fit issues and staring fitfully at my bank account. I got home and bawled into the phone to my mom who essentially said, “Adult life sucks. Buck up. And go snuggle your horse.”
She was right. Maybe it’s a bad idea to go to the barn if you’re in a foul mood and you think it’ll translate to your riding. But I was making excuses not to go, and that, I think, is where people who want to be competitive really fall short in their riding. This sport is hard. It requires the same patience and expenses as raising a child, the time and effort of a full-time job, and energy that most people rarely have left over by the end of the day. It’s about dedication, and getting out there as often as you can, even if you’re tired or if it’s cold or dark.
And it’s different for everyone, depending on where you want to go and what kind of equestrian you are. If you just want to flat around, play over little gymnastics, or pop the occasional jump, that is totally your prerogative and your choice. Everybody has different goals for riding and some people have no goals at all, and that is completely fine. Not wanting to compete at low- or mid- or upper-levels doesn’t make anyone any less of an equestrian.
As for me? Well, I’d like to do crazy jumping things one day, prelim being my current landmark goal. I’m a very long way off (and so is C, obviously, in age and training, which I knew going in) but I’m going to put in as much time and effort and work as it takes to get there, even if it means riding at 10 PM in bitter cold after long work days.
So, what kind of equestrian are you?