Death to the Plan

Death to the Plan

All my life, I’ve been a good long term planner. My college degree was a back up plan for a not-likely-to-pay-for-ponies passion, and my eventual career was a back up plan to the back up plan. I like to plan my vacations out with lots of research months in advance. I like to plan big spending items and I like to plan housing projects by quarter.

As we all know, horses are a little bit less hard to plan… but still I make attempts. Plan for the vet. Plan for lessons. Plan the show season.

Plan. Plan. Plan.


Right now, my life has been forced into a day to day situation. This makes my little planning brain run around like, “Oh me what me do now!?!”

So what do I do without planning?

I will ride my horse today, and stuff his face with cookies. I’ll wait to try and get a dressage trainer until things settle down a bit, but will continue my flat work and maybe even dress Simon up in some dressage tack for fun.


Of course, I’ll continue jumping lessons and trying to improve. The show let me know that we both need to work on our fitness. I also need to learn how to do “jumpery” things like roll backs and such at a jumper pace instead of my happy slow hunter one. I’ll work on those things in my lessons, and maybe I’ll start inching closer to the 3′.

If a show comes up that I want to do, I’ll do it. It might be a while though, because I’m saving pennies for my Europe trip next month.


The next few weekends are non-horse related, but that’s about all I know with my plan right now.  I’ll try to take this as an opportunity to learn to be a bit more spontaneous, because really… you can’t plan everything.

If you’re a planner like me, how do you cope when the universe laughs in your face?

36 thoughts on “Death to the Plan

  1. Letting go and adjusting on the fly is something I have a hard time with, for sure. I’m getting better at it, but find it frustrating… I had my whole summer of showing planned out – days booked off work, hotel and stall bookings, money set aside, etc. and now the horse I was going to show is bit lame AND the owner is changing her mind about going to shows we had planned out months ago. *sigh*

    The best laid plans of mice and men…and all that… 😉

    I’m trying to look at it from a positive angle of saving money, but it is tough.

      1. Thanks…I’m trying to think positively about all the money I’m saving and not about the fact that I had a chance to get more ribbons from different shows! (I’m a closet ribbon ho!). :-S

  2. First off, sorry you’re dealing with life stuff that is making things a little unpredictable right now, I hope everything turns out ok. Second, this JUST happened to me. I had to cancel some shows for reasons I can’t yet discuss on the blogosphere and it sent me into a bit of a tailspin for a few days until I re-grouped. But you’re handling it well by telling yourself that for now you can only plan day by day. That’s the trouble with being a “planner,” because sometimes plans get cancelled and you have to just roll with it.

  3. So with a full time job, 2 dogs, and three horses who all live with me, I have to plan every minute all the time. And lately, monkey wrenches have been finding their way into my plans constantly! Like my new worker not showing up to feed and do stalls last weekend. Oh hey, three hours I didn’t have to spare! I’m trying to learn to just deal. But I haven’t yet figured out how to let go of the angsty feeling you get when you’re day goes to hell.
    Similarly, when the above things happen, getting kicked in the head does not help things go more smoothly…

  4. +1 for letting go. The only thing that works for me. Also, I try not to get sucked into the blame game where I blame myself or others. Stuff just happens sometimes and it’s only as important as I let it be:)

  5. Ah, being a planner is about control. I like control and I like to know what to expect. So when you get thrown a curveball, for me, it’s a little bit about fear of the unknown. It’s tough… but I take solace in remembering what’s going RIGHT and according to plan. Because even if it’s just that, according to plan, I went to work today and brought home a paycheck, at least that’s something.

    Big hugs to you. You’ve got a great support system and you know we’re all here for you.

  6. As a planner, i first like to mourn the loss of my plans by crying, moping, or being a huge dick to children. Then I start settling into dividing up my goals by week, then planning everything the morning of. Today I will ______. It works. Stuff gets done. I feel accomplished. Ice cream is plentiful. Children are happy.

  7. Reallllllly not well. It’s something I struggle with literally every day. Sometimes when screwed up plans pile up I get very numb for a while and just don’t care about any plans! ever! and then that backfires and I make minute by minute plans and…yeah. Not well.

  8. Drink goblets of margaritas and cry into a large bowl of queso.

    But on a more productive note – I try to make myself focus on what I’m getting instead of what I’m giving up. That whole look on the bright side thing. I’m doing this currently…instead of saying “My horse has been lame and I haven’t even cantered him since March and there goes all my plans for showing this spring and maybe even this fall” I try to tell myself “I’ve gotten to lesson on some really nice horses the past few months who have taught me a lot and its going to make us better when we start jumping again” Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Some days, all you can do is manage to keep breathing, and that’s okay too.

    Sorry you’re having to go through crappy life stuff. Hope it passes quickly. Hugs to you.

  9. This year has been one big flop for plans. So I’ve reverted to taking things a day at a time with the only “plan” To Be Happy and as Stress-Free as Possible. I’ve been living that plan and that plan alone for a few months now and I have to say, despite the debacle with Kenai – I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’m less stressed, in better shape, with happier horses than ever before. Do I have small goals? Oh yeah. But they’re beyond flexible and I’m no longer beating myself up when I don’t meet them.

    The past two weeks for instance – I wanted to ride Griffin 20 – 60 min every evening for 4 evenings/week. Both weeks some other things came up one of those evenings. I just went with it instead of fretting. And guess what? The world didn’t end and things are going amazing.

    I wish I had advice on how to achieve this more than “just do it”…but I don’t. I had to adopt the mindset out of necessity after the dogs surgeries. But wow…it’s been a blessing to end up in this zone of flexibility, happiness, and lack of stress! I’d highly recommend it…just don’t know the best way to direct one to the path.

  10. I am not a planner. I try to be a planner, because planning seems like something I SHOULD do, but I’m forgetful and disorganized. I am very glad to have Johnny, who is an obsessive planner complete with multiple spreadsheets, to do the bulk of planning for household projects or vacations.

    That said, I get frustrated when plans I’ve made fall through. Like when I can’t go to a show because the person who was going to trailer my horse there cancels on me two days before. When I get REALLY frustrated, I pop in a yoga DVD. It’s relaxing and surprisingly helpful for calming yourself.

  11. I honestly don’t know what I would do without planning. I accept that plans change but I always have daily, weekly, and monthly plans. You could say I’m plan obsessed.

  12. So sorry you are going through a tough time right now and that all your plans are going poof. I learned the hard way this year that the current will take you where it goes – you can either struggle to swim against it, or try to relax and float along. Either way you’re going where life takes you. I hope you enjoy your ride tonight and hope you can feel control by planning what you can – even if just 1 day. That approach makes me feel like I still have some modicum of control.

  13. I love love love planning too…I think when I can’t plan months in advance, then I try to plan the week. If I can’t plan the week, plan the day. If I can’t plant the day, plan the hour. Eventually it works itself out. Hope everything works out ok, whatever it is!

  14. So funny. I just got out of a training session on dealing with change and unexpected change. I wish I could say that I walked away with more incite but… all I got is that everyone has things and deals with those things differently. Shit happens and it’s better to accept and deal with it in a constructive way than be negative and destructive about it forever. Even when it’s really shitty. Or something like that.
    Planning can be good when it means you remembered to pack your toothbrush but if you plan down to the tiniest of details you might miss out on really good things that pop up along the way.

  15. I’m a planner in everything but horses ( I literally make spreadsheets to plan vacations). With horses, I just go and ride and do what makes me happy. I’m actually trying to change this currently and have plans as regards to riding so I’m sort of going in the opposite direction as you are. I would suggest maybe a fun challenge – like a list of costumes to do with Simon or trail ride goals or maybe timed sets for fitness – something that is flexible and not show oriented, but still gives you a thing to plan for when going to the barn.

  16. i’m definitely really really REALLY into planning – it helps me make sense of the world if i know what to expect… but then everything can come crashing down when the plan fails. like you i’m working on taking things as they come. and oddly it’s getting easier. good luck!

  17. I used to plan stuff to death and then somewhere along the way I just gave it up (I think it was around the time Saga went lame, TBH). Now I try to do things as they come up, based on Everything Else In Life. Partly I think it’s to protect myself from disappointment – if I don’t plan it and it doesn’t happen, I can’t be upset about it. Of course, sometimes this backfires badly – like, we don’t have anywhere to stay for our trip that’s in less than a month. Probably I should do something about that, lol!

  18. I’m a crazy planner too! I am suffering quite a bit these days because I’m waiting to be hired and plans will change depending on what kind of job I get, where the job is, how much it pays (because ponies are expensive), etc. It’s so hard to plan! Luckily the baby horse is only doing schooling shows this year so I don’t have to worry about planning too much of a show schedule. But ugh I want to plan!

  19. I’m kind of a general planner. I have big ideas/goals in mind and keep plugging away and try to be flexible inbetween. BTW. . . I’m going to Europe this summer too! Hope to read some of your blog posts about the trip! Have fun!

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