Lost My Mojo?
I knew I would change after Tim died. I’ve blogged about it. I’ve thought about it at length and talked about it a little with friends. Despite all of those conversations, I can’t tell you exactly how I’ve changed in great detail. As we head into fall, I’ve begun to realize that these changes have affected my horse world.
One of the ways I got through the worst of my grief was throwing myself into projects to distract myself from the cruelties of reality. You might recognize some of these projects like my horse coloring book etsy store or even just getting through all the logistics of death. My brain is a very logical, rational place at times and it helped me to divide and conquer when I needed a break for my own feelings.
Diving into horse shopping was perhaps another way to distract myself. What is more exciting than perusing all the pretty ponies, getting stressed over vet checks and into the “getting to know you phase”? Those things can be all consuming, which is great to someone who wants an escape from their grief. However now things are starting to normalize for me, and I wonder… did I take on too much?
Perhaps the biggest part of this equation is something that’s been heavy on my mind but not on the blog, and that’s finances. I’m still getting used to living on a single income. Without having to spill out the financial details of my marriage, let’s just say I went through an abrupt change when I lost Tim last summer when it comes to that. We all know this is an expensive sport, especially when you add horse showing into the mix. I’ve got everything covered to keep one horse in a very limited training/showing capacity, but that’s it. I’m juggling both right now with some creative means, but it won’t last forever.
Right now when I go watch the hunter ring at a horse show, it feels like a world I won’t be able to afford again for a long time. The horses who are winning cost three times my max shopping budget, and going to all the shows that they point chase for would eat up half my annual salary. Whether I like it or not, that’s just not going to happen for me in my current situation. I’ve had my head in the sand a bit about nothing changing with my horse world after losing Tim, but denial doesn’t change fact.
At the end of the day, I want it… but I don’t want it enough right now. I’m not willing to be the adult amateur that’s working an extra job and spending all her free time at the barn riding the green bean horse through all the crap they throw at you. I want the horse that’s already going, the help of my trainer at all times and my cushy horse budget back to pay for it all.
Right now I have a mixture of feelings about all of this. I pout sometimes when I think about all the things I can’t do right now with horses, but the reality is that I own a kick ass heart horse that I’ll be able to keep indefinitely so I choose to focus on that. Plus my wild card new horse isn’t a bad guy, and right now I’ve got means to turn him into something… even if it’s on a ticking clock. Above it all is a layer of guilt, because I feel like I should want it more. I should want it enough to sacrifice like I used to, but I don’t. I guess that’s one of those intangible changes that’s happened to me and is now coming to the surface.
25 thoughts on “Lost My Mojo?”
I totally understand in that I bought Paige with life insurance money after Dad died (they should totally put a hold on those funds until you get control of your emotions imho). LUCKILY, Paige is the bomb.com perfect match for me, minus that I always wish she were ten years younger instead of creeping to 20! When you mention horse shopping being all consuming and distracting you from grieving, I agree completely…I did it with Paige, then a horse trailer, then a truck with which to pull said trailer. The trailer wasn’t a match though and I sold it… If you do end up selling Roman, you’ll get no judgement from me. If piddling around trail riding Simon or picking up a random other discipline makes you happy, go for it. Throwing money at a dream that isn’t working is no fun.
I almost wrote a gripe-y post on Facebook the other day about how at so many barns, the tail (horse shows) starts wagging the dog (love of horses). Horse showing is outrageously expensive. I like your new horse, I like you on him. I hope you can enjoy him even if it’s slow steps. He seems like a really good guy, who can be a good buddy to you. Not in a “treat me” way, but in a “get on, focus on us, and forget the rest of the world way”.
This. I’ve had the same feelings lately about riding and horses and money and time. Just because I don’t want it that bad right now doesn’t mean I won’t want in the future. But right now, I’m going to enjoy the horse I have on the budget I have with the time I have and not put myself in a position of getting burnt out just because I “should” be doing something more, bigger, “better.”
I’m going through a big life change too so I feel you! (although obviously not on the same level as a death, it is a change affecting me emotionally and financially) I had a lot of big horse related plans that kind of got smashed to smithereens so I’ve actually taken a step back from serious riding a bit and it has helped. Riding can be so mentally draining sometimes and honestly, I just don’t have the capacity or energy to handle it. So I’ve ridden some fun, easy horses, played with my baby horse, and just piddled around trying to find the joy in it all again. Some days I don’t even ride-I’ll go to the barn with my dog, walk around, pet my horses, and hang out with my friends. My plan right now is to just continue working on the things that make me happy, whatever that ends up being. I feel like letting go of the expectation that things should be a certain way with horses has helped too. Just takes the pressure off 🙂
We all have to find where we fit in the horse world and the real world. Frankly, I think that “second job at and night and living in a trailer” thing sounds like hell. I like my house. I like my life. I like my horse and there are things in the world other than horse shows. I will always love satin, but I don’t live and die by it.
I live on a single-earner income and have two jobs. It’s not as bad as all that–you’ll find balance, it just may not mean living quite the lifestyle you expected. I think you can either have money or horses, but not both! 😉 Unless you win the lottery. Gotta go buy tickets now …
Be kind to yourself. You have been through a huge life altering trauma. What works for you right now might change into something totally different in a year or two. I’m a lot older than you, ridden at both a more intense and a happy hacker level, and each suited different times in my life. The big thing through it all has been that horses have brought joy to my life no matter how serious or unserious my riding was. You will find the right balance for you in the present and you should count on it changing many times in the future.
i’m trying so hard to not let myself feel guilty for ‘not wanting’ it right now. my situation is (obviously) not the same as yours, but there are some similarities. my routine is disrupted, and dammit i wish it would just go back to being the way it was. but it won’t. so somehow i’ll cope and figure it out. but feeling guilty about it won’t help me out at all so i’m just trying to let that go. hope you can too! the beautiful thing about horses is that they’re always there for us when we’re ready 🙂
Uggghhhh, hate that you are struggling with the horse world again. Take heart not all of us on the local circuit are riding things that cost 3xs what you can afford. And the not worth what you have to give up comes to many for different reasons at different times. It’s ok to take a step back and not feel guilty about it. It’s part of the whole yucky adulting thing. I sent my 11yo green TB to the ring for the first time this summer-he did not mind that he was a weekend project for the last 7 years while I worked too much and occasionally rode other horses. Your boys won’t mind if you don’t ride every day either. And they forget very little on hiatus and if it gives you the break you need, then do it.
I feel you on this though from a different angle. I have a 3 year old who is requiring some special attention and all my money. I love my horse life, but right now it isn’t working. I feel a little guilty giving up on one of my favorite disciplines (endurance) right when my mare is hitting her stride but I can’t seem to find the time or funds to get the miles in. Switching to dressage seems like giving in almost but I can get a 60 minute ride at the barn in without much headache or money. Hitting the trails takes at least 4 hours and I just can’t do it right now. Do what makes you happy and fits now. It may change again in a few months or years. Who knows what tomorrow brings?
Hell, “wanting it” is overrated. I have never stopped “wanting it”and have nothing to show for it. Reality is a fickle mean mistress, so do what you do and love who you are and what you do. In the words of the little prince, what is essential is invisible to the eye. The rest fades away. Enjoy your time and life however you want in that moment.
Bugger this ‘reach for your dreams’ bullcrap that makes us feel bad whenever we’re not busting our gut. Everyone needs rest, we can’t all be hustling along at 110% all the time. What we have capacity to do (financially, physically, emotionally) changes over time & it’s perfectly natural and fine.
I’ve never ever been able to afford all the bells and whistles of horses. Now I don’t even have the time most days to enjoy the horses I have. But they don’t really care if they are being ridden every day. Or shown at all. If they’re cared for and played with them they figure life is great, easy way to earn food.
PS I’ve learned that both of my horses are great horses, but they occupy different parts of my heart! Plenty of room for both of them, my 3 mini humans, my husband and my friends and family. The more I open my heart to live what I’ve got, the more space I’ve got to love even more!
Lol! They are great horses for sure, but I meant to put heart horses!
There are times when many of us need to step back from competing — time and money are hard to have at the same time. But the horses always are there for us when we get back.
I think horses are like anything else in life. Sometimes you have to step back and rebuild. You’ll find your mojo again. I think it’s especially hard with these youngsters because they do throw all kinds of things at you. I haven’t shown this year either, and while I miss it, I’m also kind of fine with it too. Kind of.
I think for the majority of us, sacrificing for it is something we let go of as we age. It’s ok for the young to have fire in their belly and live hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck. But who wants that? You have a lot on your plate – a full time job, 2 dogs, 2 horses, friends and family. You *might* be able to get a second, job and spend all your time riding, but A) Its okay not to want that and B) other areas of your life would probably suffer.
It sucks to let go of some of the horsey dreams that always sustained us. But you will adjust and find what works for you. I like what Aimee said “We all have to find where we fit in the horse world.”
This brought back some memories from long ago. For my 3rd horse, I bought one from neighbors for $250, because they said she wasn’t suitable for them to ride. I retrained her to be a hunter, both in the field and in the show ring. She had obviously been abused at some time (not by the neighbors, as they only had her for a few weeks). She was terrified of a whip, a stick, even a long blade of grass held in my hand. If she did something she thought was wrong, she would cower and shake. (For instance, in kicking at a fly on her belly one day, she lightly brushed my head while I was picking out a front hoof … not her fault, purely an accident, but she panicked. I quietly talked to her and petted her neck, and she calmed down.) As she learned to trust me, I was able to show her a whip, and worked up to rubbing one over her entire body while she stayed relaxed. Even years later, I could lunge her holding a piece of grass or straw. LOL. She became a GREAT heart horse, and we had fun on trails, hunts, outdoor courses, in show rings, etc. We were doing really well in competitions, even though I’m not really a competitive person. I was really showing for fun and to be with friends. I couldn’t show too often, as I was single, living in a mobile home, and was only able to keep a horse by working at the stables cleaning 27 stalls every day before my second shift factory job to pay cover her feed, and spreading the manure over the pastures with a spreader. I saved every penny I could after bills, often eating nothing but relish on bread for weeks at a time. At a show one day, when we received reserve championship working hunter, I realized I wasn’t enjoying showing. For one thing, I suffered a heat stroke at a show long ago, and ever after that, being in the sun or heat made me ill. I just wasn’t having fun. At that show, I told the friend who hauled my horse there, that it was my last show. She told me I HAD to show at least one more time, and when I said, “No”, she explained that for my birthday, she had entered me in a huge show, paid all my entry fees, and was hauling us there for free. I finally said OK, but that it would absolutely be my very last show. We went, and I did really well, but I was only riding for fun, so I felt no pressure. I did place 6th in a hunter over outside course (like an event course of today), and was very surprised, as there were about 50 or 60 people in the class. Yup, my name was in Chronicle of the Horse, but I knew in my heart that I never wanted to show in formal shows again. I spent many decades after that truly enjoying everything associated with horses again other than showing. My friends and I did many many trail rides, which I had always LOVED. I got into dressage just to better myself. I still trained my own horses and a couple others, I managed stables, body-clipped, pulled and braided manes and tails for others, was a brood mare foaling manager for one stud farm, then finally opened my own boarding barn. I am one of those people who loved cleaning stalls, and kept them skipped out several times a day if the horses had to be inside. I could just sit in the barn and enjoy looking out at the horses in the pastures.
I bred my mare, and pulled the foal as he as WAY too big for a maiden mare. I kept my mare until she was 22 and I was moving across country again, and gave her to a friend who wanted a horse. Her foal, I kept until he went down to roll and couldn’t get up (maybe a dislocated hip) 2 days before his 33rd birthday. He was still happy, healthy and well-fleshed, still running and playing, even the morning of the day he went down. Yes, it cost a LOT more to feed him as he aged, especially since he either lost or had molars pulled until he had none. I kept him on really good supplements for senior horses, too. He is now buried about 40 feet behind the barn. I couldn’t ride horses for the final 15 years of his life due to brain surgery, but I still enjoyed every minute with him, grooming, bathing, clipping, just sitting with him in the pastures, etc. Although that was over a year ago, I’ve not gotten another horse, as my health is really poor now, with five emergency and semi-emergency just this year, plus being old. I still long to have a horse, to look out the door and see horses grazing or running around, but I know it is absolutely impractical at this stage of my life. Will I ever get another? Probably not as my health will likely not allow it, but I still dream of one day having another to care for and just be with. I would LOVE to just breathe in horse scent again. Until then, I read horse books, watch horse movies, watch Heartland, etc.
I really wish you liked trail rides, as they were perfect for me when I decided to stop showing. We would make jump courses and all jump them, allowing several horse lengths between each rider. At times, I still went with friends to shows, and helped them tack up, memorize courses, fetch food, etc. That was fun to me … I could even be in the shade most of the day. 🙂
I pray you can find things to really enjoy with your horses, and if you aren’t happy, and want or need to sell Roman, most of us will definitely understand that. It may be that you have been pushing yourself WAY too hard and need to take a break for a short or even long while. If you want to keep both Simon and Roman, I hope you can find true enjoyment with them in some way. I wish I knew what to tell you to do, but it is definitely something only you (and your finances) can decide. Hugs, and best of luck.
So sorry … didn’t realize I had written so much. :/
Be kind to yourself is right on.. I went from having five horses on my competition string, riding daily, living, breathing and focusing solely on the horses to getting a divorce, having my annual income cut to 30% of what it was previously and absolutely losing all motivation. I rode TWICE the year following my divorce. Sold all but two of the horses and found myself questioning whether or not I would keep riding at all. One of my best friends told me to give myself permission to shelve it all for as long as I needed to. The following year I found my interest creeping back, but I had to “find my new normal,” as my friend put it. I had to ask myself if it was the competition that I loved or the horses, because if it was the competition, I wouldn’t be able to continue. It’s taken me TWO YEARS to find my niche again and that was after a divorce I wanted. I can’t imagine facing that after a death I didn’t want. Give yourself permission to wander a bit. Your new normal is out there, it just seems to take forever to find it.
Makes perfect sense…I get it too. I’ve been catch riding and taking lessons and quite honestly, that’s not the kind of riding for me that’s worth the money and time away from my kid. Life also threw a (good) curve at us recently so I told my trainer Id revisit riding next year. I miss it sure, yesterday as we were pushing the stroller on a crisp morning all I could think is how nice it would be to be riding in the fall air….but I know there will be more fall days God willing and more heart horses and until then I find my identity in other meaningful things <3 That's been the challenge since even before Pongo died, if I'm not an eventer, competitor, owner…then who the hell am I? And if I'm not all those those things then would anyone ever find me interesting or unique again? Things I ponder that basically wreck me 🙂
I maintain that you’re allowed to change your mind, allowed to change course mid-sail and you’re certainly allowed to do whatever you want with your horse(s). Sometimes that might mean chasing points in the Adult Amateurs, and sometimes it might mean going for trail rides and toodling in the ring.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is to be happy… so I’m always going to vote for whatever happy looks like for you <3 <3 <3
I can relate on a slightly different level. I wasn’t very far ahead of you in the “world falling apart” department and my stress levels were beyond being just merely, thru the roof.
The end of 2013 my husband got arrested. That led to a seperation, finally a divorce and to make things more chaotic (and I’m not even sure thats the best word to cover it) lets add in moving twice, rehoming 6 horses, stepping away from the majority of my family as well as withdrawing from a lot of people I thought were my friends.
After seeing several things I had wanted slipping away from me I started to lose the desire to show as well. Ponyman’s performance at our last show was pretty dismal at best and clearly told me his heart wasn’t exactly “In it to win it!” either. At the end of the day I knew there would be no time or money left to throw at it, so there it all sits.
But the two horses remaining are still there waiting to be fed, waiting to be turned out and have their stalls clean when they come back in. I would like to compete again some day, but until then I keep my mind focused on a few other things that are taking center stage in my life right now. The horses are my escape and my relief. They are the sanity in this insane world I know right now.
Sure I love ribbons and acknowledments for my accomplishments, but they are not the be all end all in life. Take all the time you need. We will all still be here, trudging along with you thru the peaks and the pits, dodging the potholes on the road of your journey in life.
I was really scared of changing and embracing the uncertainty is tougher than tough, but you can do it!
I think it’s easy for us horse-crazy, competitive adult-amateur types to push ourselves…and sometimes that’s too much, for too long. I’ve had times (granted, not the same as what you’re going through) where I feel completely unmotivated and uninspired. And I finally realized that’s okay. What else in life do you expect to feel gung-ho about 100% of the time? Nothing. Not even food. (But maybe wine.)