Riding Haajes

As I write this, I just got home from a horse show. I feel dusty and sunburnt and completely satisfied.

There’s been some things in my life lately that have been causing me frustration, and it’s been a challenge to get them off my mind. Every time I’m in my car, in the shower, or lying in bed in the minutes before sleep, I’m thinking about my future, stressing about my job, worrying about school and finances. But for whatever reason, this doesn’t happen when I’m showing.

I wake up while the house is still asleep, and I methodically get ready. I never seem to wake up groggy and disoriented; I always wake up eager and alert. On the drive to the show grounds I feel laconic and calm. When I get there, I move into my routine, and since I get there early, I’m not rushed. I feed, I change the water, I clean his stall. I groom and take him for a walk to the ring to review my course. Then back to the barn to clean tack and polish boots. And on, and on.

Not that I’m always calm; sometimes I’m nervous, excited, anxious, angry. It’s just that all these emotions seem to exist in a sphere seperate from the “real world” sphere.

But owning, training and competing a horse does take its toll. I never feel that I am doing enough. I ride six times a week and try to haul out for lessons as much as possible; yet the “possible” days seem to get fewer and farther between, and summer slides by like a river. On top of working with my show horse, I also try to keep up in polo. Practices are twice a week and games are once a week, and always seem to overlap with shows. So I feel like I’m not doing enough in polo, either. Yet my friends outside of horses seem to think that all I ever do is ride, and really… it’s true.

I am single minded. In an extracurricular sense, all I want to do is ride better. I can spend all day watching 1.10m jumper rounds and never experience a glimmer of boredom. I read and absorb every monotonous detail from every personal experience of refusals/colic/sun bleaching/cribbing/bit resistance that has ever been relayed on Chronicle of the Horse forums. (Why can’t I do this with my quantum mechanics textbook?). Realistically, I know that I will not be riding professionally as my career. But I can’t imagine a life without horses. All my plans revolve around satisfying this urge.

Sometimes, I wonder if I am missing out on other things because of this passion. But it’s an idle curiosity and not something that I would ever consider as a motive to quit. Whatever it is that I may have missed out on — camping trips, jaunts to the beach, wild parties that roll on til dawn — they kinda seem insignificant when I have a great round or a great ride. In fact, they even seem insignificant when I have a bad round or a bad ride (I’m usually so blind with frustration and rumination that there’s not much room up there for other thoughts.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is… maybe there’s nothing wrong with being single minded. Yes, balance is important — there are times where I have to bite my tongue with my friends or boyfriend, lest I bore them half to death waxing poetic about some nuance of a recent shoulder-in.

There are times where I agree to go out when inwardly I’d rather be home and up early for a ride. And I don’t regret these things either. But driving home from the show today, I realised something. The pleasure I get from being there, as unobtrusive and subtle as it may be – that makes everything worth it. It makes showing more than just riding horses and cancelling out on weekend activities. I’m happier doing this than I am doing almost anything else. And that has to be worth at least the $300 show fee!