The Mare and I are coming off of a summer (a school year and the summer, really) of constant growth, riding nearly every day, and lessoning at least once a week, although often it ended up being much more frequent than that. We spent the summer chasing pretty hard after the goals I’d set for us (we achieved them, and so much more). The Mare and I ended the summer in top form. Each ride had a purpose, a defined set of skills we were working on; Each lesson was tailored to eliminate a weakness. Each week built up to another show, waned, and then built up to the next one. I knew what the end of the summer meant, and I was frantically trying to absorb all the information, take as many lessons as I could, and push myself and The Mare as much as our limits would allow.
We have been at our new barn for about 2 weeks now, and I still find myself adjusting to our new ‘normal’. I am about 20 minutes from school, and 20-30 minutes from the barn (depending on if I leave from home or from school). This is a daunting commute, considering I have previously lived in an apartment attached to the barn I boarded at during my time at Otterbein, and when I moved for this last summer, I was only about 5 minutes away. It means that I have to block off about 3 hours for a trip to the barn.
I am in classes from quite early in the morning until about 3pm, if not later on some days (study time not included). I was well aware of the time constraints veterinary school would put on my equestrian pursuits before I brought The Mare with me, but that does little to allay the feeling of being a Bad Horse Mom. I think I have a schedule worked out; and I should be able to get out there Friday through Monday, and give her Tuesday through Thursday off.
There are a couple days I could go out there if I really wanted, but The Mare has added her own terms and conditions to our new situation. She is currently on overnight turnout, and they get fed and put out around 5ish. Which means if I get out of class at 4:20 and book it out to the barn, I am not getting there until around 5. And The Mare could care less about Mom when it comes time for dinner and turn out. (I did this once last week, she spent the entire ride utterly distracted, and when we walked back into the barn she spent the entire time I was untacking loudly expressing her impatience to get outside). I know my horse loves me, but in comparison to her lush field, I’m going to lose every time. I’d rather give her the day, let her enjoy her pasture time, and not get into a fight.
The barn I’m boarding at offers lessons, and has an arena full of nice jumps I’m allowed to play around with on my own; a cross country field I am allowed to frolic around in, and trails that I haven’t even explored yet. But I am lost. What are our goals now? I don’t know that it is realistic to keep showing, from a financial or time standpoint; most series are winding down in the next month or so anyways. Flatting has never been our forte, so there is always movements to work on there. Over fences, I know I want to maintain the level and form we achieved this summer. I want The Mare to stay in similar physical form that she has (i.e. not get too plump on her lovely pasture) But overall, even in just these 2 weeks, it feels like our rides have lost a sense of drive to them.
There isn’t another show. There’s not a lesson that I have to be ready for. Heck, there might not even be a hack I have to get ready for. There’ll be weeks once my classes get rolling that I might only make it out there on the weekend. And I am still learning to be okay with that.
I am trying to define our new ‘normal’, and I know that this transition is rough for both of us (perhaps moreso for me). From hacking 6 days a week to just 4, I am dealing with a much fresher horse on that first day. I am looking to outline a different set of goals, ones less focused on an end goal, and ones more focused on each individual ride.
And while I figure this all out, I am trying to convince myself that my schedule is going to be okay for both of us, despite the nagging voice that tells me I’m not paying enough attention to her (basically what this means is that the days I can get out to the barn, The Mare gets more treats than she ever has in her life).
I am trying to enjoy the time I do get to have with her, rather than worrying about the time I can’t give to her. We are both coming off a fast-paced, high-stakes roller coaster, and now we’re looking to adjust to a quieter routine of honing different skills, and most importantly, remembering to enjoy the ride.