“Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.” – author unknown.
I’m not sure who that quote came from, but never has it been more important to me than over the past two months. January was an emotional curveball. You have to be emotionally tough to survive in this industry. But tough doesn’t mean cold or calloused or devoid of feelings. These big beautiful creatures give us so much love and joy. They creep into your heart and soul. We don’t do it for the money. I think I tried to calculate my hourly income once and it scared me. Tough to me means allowing myself to feel the pain and losses and then to continue with strength to teach myself to be mentally tougher. January was hard but, I had my other wonderful horses and two dogs that all gave me reason to laugh and smile.
One of our earliest lessons as riders is if you fall off your horse, get back on right away. So that is what I did. That meant I had to get jumping again and cross country schooling. I took two of my young horses out to a combined test and cross country school. The low-stress and easy atmosphere of a schooling show was what I needed when I faced the fear of jumping again.
The accident had been so fluky that it is hard think what preventative measures could have been taken. And since it was ruled that no mistakes had been made and it was just that, a horrible fluke, it took a lot of my mental training not to be fearful. It was a hard, but excellent experience – a personal mental achievement. Both horses jumped really well and had even better cross country schools. I enjoyed each jump and was so grateful for the opportunity. I found that reason to get back up and stay in the game.
The next major issue was the main reason why I left my family, friends and students to come down and train for three months. The fabulous Faux Indigo, or Indiglow as he is sometimes called, is a horse I broke seven years ago for his owner, Margot Acton. He was supposed to be a Dressage horse, but he didn’t like that lifestyle. He has been Eventing with me since he was six years old. He is an amazing athlete and everything is easy for him. He just needs the confidence and reassurance that he can do it. Once he understands, he retains it. He and I are making a bid for the Pan Ams. It may be a long shot, but you never know until you try.
However, January’s events put us two weeks behind where I would have liked us to be with Indigo. We pushed our event schedule back and therefore our qualification events changed. It hasn’t helped that my truck, “Betty White” (because she is a bit older and has quite the sense of humour), decided she needed to have some parts replaced. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.
As what usually happens in Eventing, we have moved on to plan B… maybe C. But that is the sport. You must remain flexible and adaptable. You cannot be rigid in your planning. You must always put the development of the horse before the ambitions of the rider. At our next big event we will decide whether to run the Preliminary or the Intermediate. Indigo is more than capable of the Intermediate, but this early in the season the crowds and trade fair might be their own obstacles.
Stay tuned for our next blog to find out how Red Hills goes and to meet some of my new sponsors.
In the meantime, check out this inspirational video Who says FaceBook is a waste of time?