The Man in the Arena

Thank you for your comments and condolences on yesterday’s post. After fifteen years of horsemanship, losing one never gets any easier. I now hug Nibbles every time I see her, even if I am in a bad mood… and it actually usually lifts that bad mood. Funny how that works. 😉

Oh man, first barn-selfie!

Oh man, first barn-selfie!

I’ve seen this quote before and stumbled upon it again this morning. I think it’s really relevant to many equestrians, especially those who are online a lot.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt

I personally haven’t had this problem as, frankly, I’m a baby very part-time blogger. But I know others have dealt with this. In particular, I think Facebook is vicious – with the anonymity of the internet, riders are quick to penalize other riders, judge them and otherwise fault what they’re doing. There is a time and place for constructive criticism but I think there’s something to be said about the many amazing equestrians out there who work their tails off week in and week out. I’m looking at all the fellow adult amateurs here! We may not be the country’s best riders and we certainly don’t have it all figured out – but I’ll be darned that we aren’t out there as often as we can squeeze in around work/school, putting in the time for the horse(s) we love. And I think that it’s important to remember that’s important, too. Not just the height of the jumps or color of your satin.

Wet pony.

Wet pony.

Last night when I was 10 minutes away from the barn on my hour long commute after work, the heavens split and it started pouring. When I got to the barn, it had lightened up but was still raining. Nibbles was soaked and was literally rolling in the mud when I pulled up. I was so tempted to throw my hands up, maybe brush her and call it a night. After all, I’d been up since 5:00am, worked 9 hours, and I was tired.

I’m so glad I didn’t do that. I switched my white saddle pad for the black air pad and got all the mud off I could. Other than that, into the rain we went – no indoor at this farm. Nibbles was awesome. This is her third ride since April and maybe her 15th ever. It was her third ride without an assistant. She now understands to move off my seat and also halt off my seat. We have lateral yields (just flexing her nose to her ribs), we have hindquarter disengagement (yay safety), and we have some semblance of steering. Her first ride “back” (since spring), forward was a real struggle. She just didn’t understand that she should walk out with me on her and not being lead. Last night, I think she felt confident in what I wanted. We made big circles and figure eights, checked out the corners of the arena, changed direction. She’s starting to respond like a big girl! It won’t be long now that she’ll be ready to trot in the arena. Trotting on the lunge with me up was no big deal so I’m really excited (and a bit nervous) to try it out. I wish I had a round pen but you work with what you’ve got, right?

How to Eat an Elephant

f593d05af13062d0a744203061e51be9Finishing your undergraduate work has some side effects not listed on the label. In my experience, they include:

  • Anxiety and sometimes extreme frustration over the job hunt
  • Disappointment when you don’t meet your family’s or your own expectations for post-grad life
  • Gnawing sensation in the stomach when deciding to continue onto grad school immediately or wait
  • Changes in mood and behavior, especially as related to the ability to make decisions

Joking aside, I finished my bachelors a year ago this month. Like so many things in my life, I’m not where I thought I would be at this point in my life but I’m also not so far from where I’d “ideally” like to be. I was very fortunate to find a job that I could pour my education and passion into not all that long (4 months) post graduation. I don’t make much at all but I feel blessed to be able to work full-time in the (indirect) equine industry.

So why do I feel frustrated and like I’ve let myself down? In talking to friends and peers, I think a lot of us feel this way after we graduate. When we started our four-year degree, we wore rose colored glasses and had dreams as big as the campus we now frequented. Somehow, real life has  a way of changing your path, little by little, in many beautiful and sometimes difficult ways. In my previous post, I talked about how I didn’t know what my goal with horses is. Can you believe it: 24 hours later and I still don’t have it figured out. The horror!

The advice I try to remember and have to constantly remind myself of is this: focus on what I can control right now. Break life up in to bite-size pieces and work on them, one by one if that’s what I need. I don’t have to have the answers to the universe before I turn 25 (which is in less than 6 months :x). I’m pushing myself and doing the best I can with where I am and that’s enough for now.