Yesterday we covered my top 5 best memories from 2019, and for the sake of balance, it’s only fair to also talk about the less shiny parts. In general I don’t like to focus on what didn’t go well, because IMO you learn from it and move on, but I do think its important to be honest to anyone reading and talk about the bad as well as the good. I make mistakes. Sometimes things are disappointing. That’s just life.
The barn closing
I think the thing that gutted me most was when the barn I’d been at for 3 years sold to developers and closed down. The place was a bit rough around the edges, not at all fancy, and mostly a barn for very occasional trail riders, but it had tons of beautiful open land, they let me do what I wanted, and it was only 20 minutes from my house. Over time I’d come to make that place work quite well for me, and I was attached to those back fields in a borderline spiritual way. It wasn’t just the fact that we had to leave that was so disappointing, it was the idea of the land being turned into more disgusting cookie cutter neighborhoods. It still makes me ill to think about. Plus it broke up our Hillary/Bobby/Amanda trio of trouble. But, it did lead to bigger and better opportunities, so I suppose “for everything there is a season”.
In May I managed to sprain my ankle pretty badly when I stepped down on the edge of the mounting block (it’s STILL not quite right) and then had a particularly nasty fall a couple weeks later while XC schooling. I ended up under the horse, and while overall I was fine, I was pretty well banged up. The hematoma on my leg is now a permanent dent. I think I learned a valuable lesson about taking better care of myself and giving myself appropriate time to heal rather than being stubborn and trying to power through things (as is my general nature). I think. I hope. I’ve tried to take the “treat yourself like you would treat the horses” approach a bit more. Grit is one thing, stupidity is another.
It has literally been one freaking vet bill after another since June. It started with routine floats and vaccines and injections, then there was a respiratory funk, an allergic reaction, a hematoma that subsequently got infected, a skin funk from hell, a ripped off chunk of hoof/heel, a cut hock, a broken tooth that needed to be extracted, and then a mystery foot lameness. And now they’re due for routine stuff again next month. If I could go a month or two without giving hundreds of dollars to the vet, that would be fun. Between the money and the issues, it killed any hope I had of a fall or winter season. Which again, may have turned out to be a good thing, because it gave me time away from all that to really have a think about what’s most important to me and spend some time just enjoying the horses without any other pressures.
Going splat at Coconino
So, real talk, that was a shitty moment. We’d had the best XC of our life the day before, and by the time we stepped into the ring for stadium we were literally the only pair left that hadn’t been eliminated. All I had to do was stay on and jump the jumps in the right order and we’d win, taking the $1200 Open Prelim division money home with us. And we jumped the first jump brilliantly, then almost fell down in the mud a few times in the corner before sliding through fence 2, and I went flying through the air to end that dream with an unceremonious splat. Disappointing, for sure. To be honest though, I kept waiting for it to feel like some kind of soul-crushing, life-altering defeat and it just never did. This sport is hard. Shit happens. To everyone. It would have been freaking awesome to win and bring home some money, duh, but I was still really pleased with my horse and no matter how it ended, the XC was a career highlight that could never be erased or minimized. In the old days, pre-working-on-my-mental-game, I would have been absolutely devastated. Now it was just… a bummer. So I guess, depending on how you want to look at it, it could have been a good thing? Showed some growth anyway.
While I was happy that Presto qualified for FEH Champs again, and grateful that he was sound and could actually attend despite trying to rip his foot off a month before and then cutting his hock a few days before, I was admittedly disappointed in the day. I believe heartily in the importance of the FEH and YEH programs and want to support them as much as I can, and I had really been looking forward to Championships. Prices went up this year, which I totally understand, but it was a lot to spend (like as much as I’d spend on a regular recognized horse trial) and a very long hot day (we had to stand in the sun in 100 degrees for a couple hours after we were done to wait for results) to show a baby horse on the line. While Presto wasn’t unsound from the cut on his hock, he did move very wide behind to protect it, which (fairly) they did not like at all and seemed to interpret as a substantial overall weakness. We got good pictures and more experience, so it wasn’t a total wash, but given the time and money involved, it was a bit disappointing. Naturally he was moving normally again within a few days, because horses.
To be fair, these are really the only truly disappointing moments that spring to mind from the year. And even then, I think most of them have or will ultimately lead to something good. You live, you learn. Shit happens for a reason. Blah blah blah. I don’t always believe that, but as long as I’m learning from the blunders, I do believe they can turn into positives in the long run. Or ya know, build character at the very least? And honestly, sometimes my stubborn hard-headed self really does have to learn things the hard way.