Monday, December 9, 2019

Nothing to Prove

As the end of a decade draws to a close, I've been finding myself doing a lot of reflecting and introspection in my (rarely found) downtime.

When I started my riding journey about 6 years ago as an adult beginner with little to no experience, little did I know that I would own a horse for 5 of those 6 years and be blessed with so many opportunities of a life time to catch-ride for others in competition and be invited to vacation on horseback in so many states and countries. What an amazing journey it has been so far, though not one without its fair share of disappointments and low points.

Riding has taught me so much. It has given me hope when I was in one of the darkest moments in my life. It has given me the confidence to trust my gut instincts (e.g.; when taking a leap a faith on a horse bought sight unseen at an NJ feedlot auction). It has given me the tenacity and drive to pursue a hobby that had been forever out of reach and beyond consideration.

Over the past few years though, I guess I started to forget why I started riding in the first place.

That original, simple joy was replaced with preoccupation and plans for competition as I actively tried to insert myself into conversations and social circles with those more knowledgeable, more experience than me. Maybe it was bad luck, or bad timing, or fate, or everything listed there... but the competition season I had dreamed and hoped for about never came to be and since then its been nothing but an uphill battle. My efforts to find local endurance mentors repeatedly turned up empty or worse (disgruntled, irritated responses filled with empty promises of training rides that never- and still haven't- came to be.)

All these setbacks inevitably have left a bitter taste in my mouth about the sport, the people, and the community.

My priority has always been first and foremost the well-being and longevity of my horse. As Quest moves into her "senior" years, I came to the slow conclusion that I've been thinking about it all wrong: We had nothing to prove to anyone, ever.

Maybe one day everything will fall into place and that competition season that I've always wanted will happen. My husband is 110% supportive of my riding hobby and wants to learn, even maybe compete together with me. He's even mentioned finding me another endurance horse after Quest is retired.

Though for now, it's just me, my mareface, our happiness, our soundness, and the open trail as we meander, wander, and explore life together. It's hard to put aside my goals for competition because its been my frame of mind for so many years but I hope to quiet the voices in my mind and in my heart completely someday until it is time for us to prepare again.

We might not be the fanciest pair but we have golden hearts. And sometimes that's all that matters.


  1. It is so easy to forget why we chose riding and horses in the first place and get wrapped up in things that really don't matter in the long run. There are amazing endurance riders with huge hearts out there. Unfortunately, in my own experiences they can be few and far between. Enjoy yourself and Quest to the max because you are 100% right - you don't have anything to prove to anyone.

  2. I'm still so sad that you've run into so many roadblocks, especially with mentoring. That's so frustrating to me, especially since I'm in no position to do a damn thing about it. This entry resonates with me. I *have* been lucky enough to get my dream season (and then some), but I get so caught up in horses and goals and competition and training clients and bills that I often forget the simple joy that drew me into horses in the first place. It's a struggle to keep that balance for me, and I strive to juggle my passion for horses with the fact that there is more to life than horses...

  3. Ugh that is so frustrating regarding the non-materialization of mentorship! You have some great perspective here though, it can be easy to lose sight of our original simple wishes (to ride, to own a horse) in the cacophony . It really is though for the love of horses and its good to remember that.

  4. Totally relating to this post.

    When reading blog entries from riders that are achieving goals that I dreamed of, I do struggle with feeling envious sometimes. I'm located too far from civilization to access training regularly, and showing would be prohibitively expensive. It's helpful to remember though - how incredibly lucky we are to have horses in our lives in any capacity. Being a horseman has made me a better person, if a poorer one lol.

  5. I related to this post too. I was able to 100% fall into that competition mindset with endurance and follow through on it to have that dream season...and while I am not sorry for the experiences lived and the lessons learned because they turned me into who I am today...I could also have happily gone without so many of the negative experiences garnered: the injuries, the judgement from other endurance bloggers, the pressure, the ever-worsening anxiety, the fake friends. Endurance helped *create* my relationship with Lily (I would have sold her a lot sooner otherwise), but at the same time if I hadn't tried to make that relationship work, I probably would not have ended up with horse-related PTSD from trying to continue down that path. We were something wonderful for a bit, but at the same time, that journey destroyed a huge part of who I was: the horse-crazy girl that I was for most of my life...and it has taken far longer to heal from that than from the actual physical injuries sustained the last few years riding Lily.

    But I also wouldn't have Gracie now: she was supposed to be the back-up endurance horse.

    Gracie is semi-retired these days and I'm still trying to figure out where horses fit in my life now, in a life post-Lily. I am fortunate to have a mare now that is happy to wait until/if I figure that out, but who still happily greets me at the gate when I visit her, for no other reason than because it's me. <3 At this time in my life, the only reason why I still have a horse is because it's Gracie.

    Sometimes, the simple joy of enjoying your time with your own horse on your own terms is the best, and it is the greatest and most magical adventure of all.

  6. I want to see how you made the diy bareback pad but the pictures dont show up :(