I keep having to remind myself that I’m an adult amateur. This means, I ride for me, not others. I pay my own bills, pay for lessons, own my horses myself, and am not in any way, shape, or form a professional. Recently I’ve decided to retire my upper level horse from jumping. This is not a decision that was made lightly. But, he is 100% sound and happy, jumping just isn’t for him anymore. I’ve talked to family and friends about it, and I’ve dropped some hints on social media about it.
Because of the social media heavy world we live in, I feel like I need to make a statement about it. It’s like this need to explain what’s going on, why we made this decision, and talk about what our future holds. Part of me is alright with feeling that need, and part of me is horrified. This is why I didn’t become a professional, so that the only person I need to justify my actions to is myself. Why do I feel the need to justify it to strangers?
We live in a world that is so transparent, that I feel like I owe some sort of explanation to the world for my actions. When in reality, they don’t need to know what happened. Anyone who knows my horse and reads a few of my blogs knows he’s a tough ride with a lot of emotional baggage. That’s common knowledge. It doesn’t take much to put those two things together to see what it didn’t work out.
Eventually if he stops coming to horse shows, people will realize he’s not eventing anymore. They’ll see no more jumping photos and an influx of dressage photos, it’ll be obvious that he switched disciplines. Despite all that, there’s still that nagging feeling of needing to explain it.
It shouldn’t matter. I compete for myself, my happiness. Those who truly love and support me would understand and appreciate this decision. The ones who don’t care about my safety or success would be the ones to whisper behind my back. Part of me is worried what people will say. Will they accuse me of giving up on him, or will they say that this should have happened years ago?
It shouldn’t matter.
But it does.
I’m working on explaining away my shortcomings. I keep telling myself, if a great rider like Lauren Kieffer doesn’t feel the need to explain herself after an average performance at Badminton when the Facebook crusaders are came at her, then an adult amateur like me certainly doesn’t have to explain why I’m switching my horse from eventing to dressage. Note to self: In all areas of my riding, horsemanship, and mental game: be more like Lauren Kieffer.