I was going to call this “Monday Feels” and then I realized it’s Tuesday. That about sums things up.
Instead I’m going to pivot and talk about goals and plans and expectations… or the lack thereof. Or how my view of all those things has changed so much in the past 5 or so years.
Long-time readers of this blog have been on a bit of a roller coaster ride. First I didn’t compete much, then I did EVERYTHING and went REAL HARD and always had my eye on the next goal. and then now for the past few years I haven’t done a whole lot at all. I’ve talked a lot over the years about my journey with mindset, and how much of a struggle it’s been for me, and how much work I’ve had to put into it. Honestly, I needed the time away from the competitive side of things to help give me more perspective, and let all of that sink in. Time and hindsight are excellent teachers. But sticking my toe back into that world again, and this time doing it in a healthy way… that’s the road I currently find myself standing on.
Trainer is a big ol’ Planner (enneagram 3, if you know you know) which is probably good to counteract me, who dodges commitment and goal-setting with riding stuff like it’s my actual damn job. It’s funny because in other aspects of life I am extremely schedule and plan obsessed. I have an itinerary for literally everything and every day of my life is planned out. But I think I got so wrapped up in competing there for a while with Henry that now I’ve scared myself away from making too many plans thus ending up a) disappointed or b) so consumed by a goal that I don’t enjoy the journey. I have that obsessive, one-track type of brain that makes it really easy to slip into that. In an effort to not make that mistake again, I think I went from one extreme to the other. It’s probably good to have someone like Trainer to add a little balance back into things, otherwise I’d probably still just be trotting circles out in the field with Presto. I know I’m in a much better place mindset-wise with Presto than I was for so many of those years with Henry, but ya know… the process of learning about yourself and how you think/cope/react is never-ending, and I just don’t want to make the same mistakes. I can see now that it has gone so far the other direction that it’s become a bit of a “paralysis by analysis” thing, so… having her to push me back out of that is probably a good thing.
All of this to say that she’s been planning out my fall and winter season. I’m over here like “yeah sure as long as it doesn’t cause mental/financial anguish” because I have to be deliberately casual about it. First and foremost this is supposed to be fun, and no one can suck the fun out of something faster than my brain on Goals.
It does help that it feels different with this horse. I don’t know why it always seemed to me like I had something to prove with Henry but I don’t feel that way with Presto. If anything you’d think it should have been the opposite. Overall healthier mental state now vs then, maybe? It feels easier to enjoy every single little bit of progress with this horse, and be able to appreciate the journey no matter what it looks like. After all, how many times did all of this come precariously close to never happening? I never forget that. Not for a single day.
I also have no end goal in mind. There isn’t a particular level I want to hit, or a competition that is a “must”. I’m just here to enjoy the horse that I made, learn from him, and see what we can do together. If that looks like 10 years of Novice, that’s fine with me. If it looks like something bigger, then ok… we’ll cross that road when we come to it. I just want to get better and have fun with a horse that I already get so much enjoyment from, no matter what that looks like.
But I can also recognize the fact that being TOO nonchalant about that stuff does lead to the paralysis by analysis thing on my part. Taking a few years off from showing means I’ve settled into a bit of a comfort zone that could probably go on forever if I let it. And the truth is that I do actually enjoy competing. I’m not a super competitive person these days, and I don’t want to horse show like all the time (that is exhausting), but I do genuinely like it. Or at least I do now. There for a while I think I really didn’t, and I wasn’t totally sure that I would again.
But what I’m noticing now (that we’ve got a grand total of two shows under our belt… I know, things are getting serious…) is that the horse shows help give me a little bit of push and direction. Both important things if your priority with your horse is the journey. Apparently this new phase of life is going to be learning to actually go Do The Things but also without taking it too far and imploding my brain, because then I’ll just run away again back into my little brain cocoon.
The very loose “plan” is to do a recognized Novice at the beginning of December and, if that goes well, a schooling Training a couple weeks later. The show season here in Florida is really Jan through April, so things are gonna start to kick off hot and heavy in a couple months. How much or how little I want to participate in that will depend on a lot of things, but… I didn’t move all the way to Ocala to hide in the bushes, did I? I didn’t breed and raise my dream horse to not get out there and do the thing I bred him to do, did I?
I trust Trainer’s judgment implicitly, so I’m happy to go along with her whatever her plan is. I don’t have the best track record for plans, after all.
Both of the last two shows have been the best my mindset has ever been in competition so hopefully that’s a sign of growth. They’ve been fun, and no pressure, and I haven’t lain awake at night stressing about shit that’s completely beyond my control. There are a lot of things helping contribute to that, I think. But it does feel fun again, and I do find myself coming home from the shows and looking forward to the next one. It’s a work in progress but maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to find the middle ground.