Thursday, August 4, 2016

Because I Want To

The Graduated Equestrian wrote a great post last week titled Cloud 9, and part of it really grabbed me -- “There was no reason from a training standpoint to put it up again. I just wanted to. And I realized that’s okay. It’s ok to sometimes do things with my horse, just because I want to and because it’s fun. That’s one of the best part of having your own horse I’m learning.”

Hindsight is 20/20, and now that I’m starting this blogging journey I kind of wished I had done it sooner. In 2015, I was a showing machine. I hit almost every schooling dressage show in a 100-mile radius, racking up ribbons and points across the state. It was a productive year, and Topaz and Ruby helped me bring home some impressive year-end awards. Impressive only in the sense that my poor self-trained horses carted my ammy butt around the ring and did well (in spite of me most days!). It was exhilarating and exhausting and epic (needed a third e-word there). It really helped me overcome my crippling show anxiety -- although it still rears it’s ugly head from time to time, I do think I remember to breathe in most dressage tests now, and hopefully I look less like a frozen version of the Tin Man in photos. I would have had SO MANY things to write about in 2015 as I struggled training two very different horses at different levels. And the show recaps and gratuitous satin shots alone -- man, what a wasted opportunity!
From this: No breathing allowed in dressage tests.
To this: Wait, is smiling allowed in dressage tests? Can I have... fun?
Probably 75% of the satin in my office is from 2015

However useful 2015 was for me, the flip side is that it did really burn me out. Like really. It’s August and I’ve shown once this year. And that show was a last minute decision -- I had about three weeks of prep leading up to it and as you can guess, that was a recipe for disaster, haha. I am potentially aiming at three fall shows, but since that would require me actually schooling instead of hacking out all the time, I guess we’ll see how things play out. 
The show this spring was literally so bad I just stopped editing photos after this halt photo and never looked at them again.
So what am I doing instead of schooling? Just playing with my horse. Trail riding. Organizing (and culling/selling/possibly buying) tack. Treat stretches. Cantering through grassy fields and up hills. Turning Ruby loose in the indoor and chasing her around at liberty and playing tag. Teaching her to ground tie. Reading braiding tutorials and gathering supplies so I can do a photo session with my blingy braid bands. Ground driving/long lining. Bareback hacks. Snuggling. All the cookies. Playing matchy matchy dress up with shirts and saddle pads and making DH photograph. Braiding forelocks/tails. Searching for a place to take Ruby swimming. Reading my Kindle while she grazes. Baths. Basically whatever I want to. And you know what? That’s okay. There are no deadlines that I’m missing. My horse isn’t sad that she’s not out showing or improving her skills. She isn't sitting around wishing "gee, I wish my owner had me in full training and showing at 2nd Level as a 5 y/o."
I need better photos of the blingy braid bands.
Ancient picture, but having FUN with my horse.
Unicorning. This was FUN.
Don't even start helmet nazis, this photo is like 10 years old. And I was enjoying myself. And clearly nobody died.
Even when I was schooling hard for all the shows, sometimes I still did things just because I wanted to. One day last summer I decided I would see what Topaz thought about flying lead changes. Not because I needed to from a training standpoint (she was showing Training level), but because I wanted to. It was fun! She offered up two or three when I asked, I praised her, and then I didn’t ask again for the rest of the year.
Pre-2015, and not me riding, but isn't her canter pretty?
Lately most of my rides have been hacks. Because I prefer the scenery between my horses' ears to be grass and woods and creeks as opposed to arena rails right now. And that's okay. In six months, I might be back to obsessively schooling in the sandbox. And that will be okay. Because I do this for fun, and whatever is fun to me might change in the moment. And that's okay.
What most of my rides lately look like.

I had initially scheduled this post for yesterday, but then a friend shared this post with me and I wanted to wait until I'd had a chance to reread it and then share it in my own post:

Are you having fun with your horse? Or are you doing things just because you feel like you "should" to or because you have a set schedule? (no judgement here, just wondering if I'm alone in being a slacker!)

 

14 comments:

  1. Fun is so important! I always try to make sure to check in with myself regularly and make sure that we're still having fun in our day to day work.

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    1. Your bareback road hacks sure look like fun to me! 😉 And I'm sure if I actually had concrete goals right now and a training plan, that would be fun too, but for now I'm kind of aimless and I'm enjoying that. I'll be goal-oriented again soon I'm sure!

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  2. Having horses is about having fun. They're too expensive to not have fun with. I've had a lot of fun this year showing Penn a ton. I still make time to play though, it's good for both of us!

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    1. Agreed! I do kind of miss showing this year, I did have a ton of fun last year. But I don't miss spending all my money and getting up early and all the washing (showing two horses, one of them grey, is miserable if you're lazy like me and hate bathing).

      Maybe 2016 will be the year of showing again for me. Right now I'm just loving all the show recaps from other bloggers! 😀

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  3. I have days where I just tell my horse he is pretty aka I groom him give him extra feed and turn him back out. I think it is important for all of our mental health just to have fun sometimes.

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    1. I bet Stinker thinks those days are awesome 😉 I know those are Ruby's favorite lol.

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  4. great post - i love the sentiment. i'm kinda in a weird place right now bc we're doing the 'just have fun' thing and.... it's honestly not really where i want to be. i believe in balance and taking edge off the rigor and discipline of competition and training but going on trail rides and relaxing etc. but for me, the balance means both of those sides of the coin should be present. it's cool tho. my horse is just like yours in not feeling in the slightest like her talents are being wasted by just hangin out in a field or only going on trail rides. the problem is only mine, and i'll figure it out eventually!

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    1. Definitely -- true balance would incorporate both. I'm 100% not balanced right now but mentally it's working with me. I imagine that switch will flip for me soon and I'll be back to real training!

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  5. It is all about the fun- what't he point otherwise? it's like we're going to the olympics any time soon....

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    1. You're dashing my hopes for 2020 or 2024! 😂 J/K. I'll be lucky to be riding 2nd Level by then the way I'm going....lol

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  6. I generally have fun. Always at the cost of making any actual training/show progress, but I'd rather enjoy myself.

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    1. Why do it if it's not fun, right? ☺

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  7. I just found this, but I feel like you 100% got what I was trying to say! It was weird to start making the change, and sometimes I still feel like I'm doing something wrong by not accomplishing all of the things, but it's also a beautiful thing to get back to why I started riding in the first place: because it's fun. This is a great post!

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    1. I'm glad you liked the post -- when I originally read yours and got to that line, I stopped and read it like 6 times. I think it's important to keep in touch with our inner little girl who just wants to have fun sometimes!

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