Finding A Purpose

I just passed the three-week mark since my accident, and I’ve had (way too much) time to reflect on what happened and what’s next.

Since I began riding as a kid, I’ve never gone more than two weeks without being on a horse, and now I’m looking at mid-July for the next opportunity.

Unable to weight-bear for now, I feel like a totally useless blob. I’m unable to groom (except one side of the minis!) or bathe the horses, or mess around in the barn. I can’t exercise, go shopping, visit with friends in person or travel.

I feel like I’ve lost purpose without riding in my life. Each day blends into the next, and I just feel like I’m wasting time. All I’m able to do is work, then stare at a screen some more, either reading a magazine on my iPad or watching TV. I’ve taken to eating my lunch outside and sitting in my wheelchair in the barn while watching my mom feed and turnout the horses but that’s all the horse time I’m getting.

I’m such a type A, always-busy kind of person that having all this time is no fun! I plan my life by the hour. Before my injury I was actually getting mildly burned out with traveling so much, but I’ve realized I thrive on that. I’d much rather be standing out in the freezing cold rain at Jersey Fresh than sitting on my butt in the house.

Dusty riding Thomas on May 21.

I’ve had time to think about what I want to do with Thomas, and I’m just not sure. I went to see him at Dusty’s last weekend, and he was settled back into living in a stall for half the day. He worked on stretching him in walk and trot under saddle and did a little bit of canter. He said he’s been hacking a lot and just getting him to learn to relax. When I saw him go he looked quite tense, but I’ll give him that considering he’s in a new place with a new rider being asked to do hard things like bend his body much more than I ever would have thought to ask.

I’ve found that unfortunately with boarding and my budget, there’s always one thing that you have to sacrifice, and for me that’s hacking. I have access to two gravel driveways that make for a 20-minute loop, but I’ve been hesitant to do the whole thing on my own. And it seems Thomas is the kind of OTTB who needs a lot of hacking to learn to relax…see my conundrum?

Luckily I have two friends that will be moving in on June 1 so I’ll hopefully be able to have some help, especially when it comes to getting on.

If it was up to me, I’d do one to two just-hacking days per week. I’ve alway tried to vary Oh So’s work days, but he’s at the point now where although he loves hacking, if I can’t for a week, he’s fine.

Before the accident I was getting increasingly frustrated about not having regular flat lessons wth Thomas. With Bear and Oh So I got regular lessons so I felt like I had guidance, confirmation I was doing the correct thing, and most importantly, a plan.

I’m often told to believe in myself more than I do, but I still believe I need help. Ironically, Heidi, who isn’t able to travel to me right now, had made some time to come do both horses on the day I fell. That would have been my second flat lesson in 5 months, which thinking about it is insane. But Lisa didn’t think he was ready to start traveling yet over the winter, then I got busy with traveling, and it was never “the right time” either  because of weather or taking Oh So to a show.

I don’t feel super upset that I can’t see Thomas right now, but I am pretty unhappy that I can only see Oh So a couple of times a week and that I don’t have anyone to keep him moving on a regular basis. He tends to get in trouble/become feral when he’s not messed with most days. Plus, who knows how many more years I have with him? He’s being going great this spring, and now this!

Thomas and Dusty working on bending.

I’m not sure why I don’t feel that way about Thomas…I think part of it is that I know he’s in good hands and being ridden every day. But I almost feel like if I just let Dusty sell him now, I wouldn’t be too upset over it. I just don’t have that emotional attachment yet. To be honest, without flat lessons, I was feeling kind of lost and unmotivated. The first year seems to be the hardest part of training an OTTB, and a lot of it is just going through the daily grind of tension, trying to stay on or survive a spook, and without guidance, I wasn’t happy.

It was nice when I visited him. He was certainly more friendly to me than Oh So, who was being fussy and probably thinking, “Who is this amateur (my mom) grooming me, and when do we get going?”

He put his head down, and I fed him tons of carrots in his stall. I didn’t want to scare him too much being in the wheelchair!

I thought we’d gained trust in each other before the accident, but now I don’t trust him. If I decide to sell him when he comes back, I’ll still have to ride him, so I might as well keep him right? Otherwise I’d have to start over and potentially go through all of this again, bringing my next horse up from the start. It just seems silly that something as trivial as mounting could cause this apprehension from both of us, especially when we haven’t even begun the hard stuff like his first cross-country schooling or his first oxer.

If I don’t sell him, then I wonder, will I be scared getting back on the first time? How long will it take for this to all become a distant memory? Will I always look at him as the horse who did this to me?

Lucky and Oliver have been keeping me company.

If he’s an overthinker/worrier and I am too, does that make a good match? Do I want to deal with tension and the frustration again like I did with Oh So in the dressage? Or do I need to just get over myself, buck up and deal with it?

He’s obviously a quality horse, but how slow will I have to go? I’m not in a huge rush, but he is now 8, and I told my trainer I didn’t want to take two years to get to beginner novice again, but it looks like he’s going to take more time. I’ve been literally aching to compete on a regular basis since Oh So got injured in 2013, and every time I come close, something comes up with his soundness. Maybe I’m just antsy because I interview so many people about how easy their horses were to bring up the levels. Maybe they’re lying to me about the hard parts?

Rocky enjoys nibbling on my boots.

I miss the thrill of competing, and I think I tend to thrive on regularly showing so I can improve myself by getting into a rhythm. I just feel like I’m hanging on by a thread here, and I’ve felt that way for awhile, even before the accident.

What’s really killing me is Facebook. Seeing photos of how amazing people’s weekends are and what exotic place they’re traveling to makes my heart really tinge with sadness and envy. I’m mad about missing my vacation, and I’m mad I can’t be out enjoying my horses. I should stay off it, but literally, what else is there to do?!

Oh So is not happy about this situation.

So here I sit (literally because I’m unable to stand), waiting to start walking and hoping I can make it to Rebecca Farm and Great Meadow in July. I’m slowly ticking off the days, one by one.

3 thoughts on “Finding A Purpose

  1. Stephanie Traylor

    I totally get where you’re coming from with the not trusting him to do it again once you’re able to get back on. I had something very similar happen (strangely enough Lisa was there for that one too). Getting on and something spooked my mare and she just flew into the air with me hanging off the side of her as I’d only gotten one foot in the stirrup. It ended with a demolished shattered knee.

    And I’m not going to say the mare never pulled that sort of crap again. Because she did and often. We did figure out that she was damn girth and there was a certain way she liked to have it tightened. Tighten a hole, stretch, rinse, repeat 🙄. We never got on her from the ground…..always with a mounting block and it was always in the back of mind that she had it in her.

    That being said she was ine of those awesome horses that, once you were on, she gave 100%. So in my mind she was worth the hassle of being hard to mount. I guess that’s the real question. Does he have it in him to be one of those great horses and if so you find a way to make it work for you.

    1. Lisa absolutely believes he will be a great horse, but I wonder if I want to continue on at the expense of my health. Of course with horses there’s always a chance of getting injured, but this $700 horse has just become a very expensive horse with the cost of my medical bills and sending him to training.

      I can’t really afford to get hurt again, but I know if I start over with another young one, which is all I can afford, then it might happen again. I think the first thing to do is see how much he changes with Dusty, then if he comes back, I have no problem using Ace for awhile and having someone hold him on a lead while I get on.

  2. youngeventhorseblog

    You are definitely not alone in feeling like there is some kind of step you’re missing when everyone finds these horses, OTT or otherwise and they just seem to be so easy.

    They come off the track and in weeks they are out competing, succesfully, and moving up the grades.

    It was legitimately the story of my life after I had to retire my older competition mare because I have no financial backing outside of myself (and myself is a poor uni student). I clashed with the first horse and sold her on, the second one cost me so much money but he just mentally couldn’t really handle the change and the increasing level of work required to be a competition horse. The one after that was amazing and my best friend but he was injured. Always. Lacerated legs/abscesses/pulled shoes you name it – right up until he broke his leg! After that came a horse that was cleared in a vet check but ended up having undisclosed rotation of the pedal bone and solar margin fractures.


    But more importantly, you are not alone, this sport is hard and it takes everything. I don’t think it is a selfish thing to step back from a horse and say ‘this is not what I want, this is not fun anymore’. Especially if riding is a hobby.

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