So I sort of fell off the wagon for three months. Whoops. Turns out retiring my horse combined with a big fat dose of seasonal depression is really not a great thing for my blogging motivation.
But we're still here. I'm still riding a little bit. Dino is still doing a great job healing and living his best life of leisure, and I'm still getting the opportunity to ride my friends' wonderful horses and take lessons on occasion. I just haven't been terribly inspired to blog about any of it.
On one hand, it's not a bad thing to be in a little bit of an in-between stage in my riding life right now. A person can't keep up a constant schedule of training and competing and work a full time job and part time jobs and maintain a healthy marriage and non-horsey friendships and continue to volunteer and spend time with family without getting totally fried. Balance is a good thing, breaks are a good thing. As much as I was gung-ho about continuing to train hard and take every opportunity to sit on any horse I could when I first retired Dino in the early fall, that enthusiasm has waned as the winter dragged on.
|I've gotten to ride Dewey a lot, and he's learning some very cool stuff lately!|
A lot of that is just winter. If you know me in real life, you know I'm not shy about the fact that winter is a hard time for me. I suffer from seasonal depression, and with the cold and the darkness each year comes a whole host of unpleasant symptoms. If you think you're unmotivated to go to the barn when it gets dark at 4:30pm and it's 20 degrees, imagine how much less motivation you'd have if you also felt completely exhausted on every level of your being, deeply wanted only to eat carbs and hibernate until spring, and were fairly sure that life was meaningless and beauty and joy had abandoned your existence.
Oh, and also the equine love of your life is retired, and you don't have a second horse to pour yourself into.
My friends, what even is the point of going to the barn every day in such a situation? This is what I'm dealing with, here. And I know once spring comes I'll feel differently and be able to think more reasonably about what my riding life is right now and what it will be in the future, but for now, things are feeling a bit bleak. I'm in between worlds, and I'm allowing myself to stay here for a while without the pressure to figure things out right away or make any big choices. Dino is doing great with very short, low key walk/trot rides three days a week. He gets wonderful care at my barn, and thankfully during this period of the year when everything is hard, he doesn't need me to be there every day. So I'm burrowing in and laying low until winter ends and my brain gets the sunlight it needs to operate at full capacity.
|I've also had a lot of fun on Luka, the enormous hunky Drum Horse|
A lot of folks have asked me if I'm going to get a second horse. I really, really want the answer to that question to be yes. I want to buy a fancy youngster (just like Basil, only smaller) and get back to training and developing a horse for dressage. I want to start the journey over again, and hopefully make fewer, or at least different, mistakes this time around. I want to see what I can do with a pony that's a blank slate - something without the years of baggage that Dino was carrying when he came to me. I want to put my education and my skills to use with a young horse that's physically and mentally capable of going up the levels. I want to ride down centerline again. I want to finish my bronze.
But to be perfectly honest, it's probably not the right time for it yet, for a host of reasons. Financially, doubling my horse spending is a big, big deal. While I could certainly afford the initial purchase of a bargain-basement-priced pony; board, farrier, and vet bills for two is a lot of money every month. It's money that, while yes technically I do have to spend, would be much wiser to put in savings, my 401K, or to put towards the new car that I'm going to need when my decrepit Honda Civic finally kicks the bucket. I know there's lots of folks out there who barely scrape by in other areas of their lives in order to have horses, but that's just not my financial strategy. Plus, I could afford a nicer pony right off the bat if I'm patient and put my pennies away for a while instead of grasping for whatever is available and cheap because I want something to ride NOW.
Aside from the nuts-and-bolts financial piece of it, I still haven't quite wrapped my brain around my situation yet. For the first time in 11 years, things are different, and I'm not really sure what the next step even is. I don't want to stop riding and give up the sport because Dino isn't capable anymore, but the way forward isn't clear to me. I do want to own another pony eventually - I know myself well enough to know that half leasing or lessons alone won't satisfy the desire for what I find truly fulfilling about horses and riding. The best part of it all for me is forging a connection with a horse, figuring out what makes them tick, building trust and learning to bring the best out of my equine partner. Yes, I want to continue to grow as a rider, but I also want to build a horse of my own into a confident, happy athlete.
I'm just grappling with the timing of it all. What makes it difficult is that yes, I COULD make it work if the right pony came along right now and the stars aligned. So, so many people in my life have stepped up to support me in my riding journey and continue to support me in whatever it takes to continue it, and I know that village is there for me to help move mountains if I ask. I could put lots of time and effort into horse shopping RIGHT NOW and MAKE the next step happen, savings account be damned. But none of those things feel right when I get down to running numbers in my head or inquiring about horses for sale. Every time I start to go through the motions of acquiring a second horse, my gut tells me it's not the right one, or not quite the right time.
So, I'm sitting here between worlds, waiting for the next part of the story to reveal itself.