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.