"If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment."
- Henry David Thoreau
One thing that we all must accept in the world of horses, is the inevitable disappointment that occurs - sometimes over and over. It wouldn't be a journey if there weren't highs and lows, and this is something that I know - but it doesn't make it any easier to accept when it happens.
Regardless, we trudge on. We take the blows, whether emotional or physical, get back on, and press forward towards the goal. There are days I wonder why I strive SO hard to make things happen when I feel like they never will. But I have yet to give up, and have no plans of doing so.
I'm starting to get a little superstitious. Which is funny, because I have always been the least superstitious person in the world. I mocked my husband when he told me stories about baseball players wearing dirty cups (EW!) because they felt if they washed it, they would have a bad game. The only quirk I've ever indulged in is the occasional knocking on wood, and I swear - it's only been when discussing something horse-related. But I digress. I swear, every time I try to go to a show with the group, something happens. A piece of wire is impaled in a frog, a shoe is thrown, the horse is "off", the trailer broken...it seems like something always happens. The only plan I have been able to sucessfully stick to was the jumper show I went to on my own.
So, I came back from a hack last night to discover a lost shoe - the day before my lesson, and two days before the next jumper show. I have one of the best farriers in the greater Charlotte area, but the downside to that is that he is never sitting around twiddling his thumbs, ready at a moment's notice to tack a shoe back on...so at the moment, we are in limbo of whether it will be replaced in time to be ready for a show. Disappointment strikes. I stomp my feet, utter a few expletives, and slap the headphones on with some head-banging music to fend off the storm inside of me. Go to bed, wake up, and have regained my sense of perspective. I'll be the first one to admit, I'm just as human (a.k.a. immature, impatient....) as the next guy. I won't even pretend to take it in stride every time, because it's the furthest thing from the truth. Thankfully, I am progressively challenging myself to take it a little better each time.
In other news, I was cleared to start riding again about a week ago. The concussion symptoms have all subsided, minus a few brain fart moments like losing my debit card and phone...It took a few days to get my general stamina in the saddle back, but it has mostly returned, and we have been back to our original schedule.
The fear tried creeping up on one ride. I felt that old familiar pang, as I was working through a classic red-headed herdbound mare moment on a conditioning ride. She threw a pretty decent-sized temper tantrum when her boyfriend left her in the dust on a hack. I let them go on ahead and chose to work on the issue instead of having them babysit me. Big mistake. Mare fit ensued, complete with planting, spinning, a little rear - and for the first time in I can't remember when, the old thought of "maybe I should get off...." crossed my mind. As quickly as it came, I dismissed it, and finally managed to get through it and get back to the barn. Then came the inevitable disappointment at the return of the old "fear" symptoms. But you know what? I brushed my ego off and got right back on the next day, and finished one of our best jump schools to date.
I guess I knew I hadn't built up some magical immunity, to where the fear might never return. This sport comes with risk, but the measure of our success isn't in the reward of ribbons and showing - it is in the everyday obstacles we overcome. For me, that obstacle is fear and confidence issues. And I am striving to continue succeeding in beating it, day by day. What I have found, in the last couple rides, is that I did get spooked. In all honesty, most people get a little shook up (no pun intended!) after a concussion. I think the biggest thing in my favor is the partnership I have built with my mare, and the huge bank of positive experiences in the past that I can rely on. I trust that horse, and I truly believe she is beginning to trust me as well. I am discovering that may be the most effective ingredient in the recipe for riding through the fear.