Being involved with horses can bring the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. But what happens when the lows, catastrophes, and heartbreaks come swiftly, one after the other, with scarcely a bright sunny moment to make it all worthwhile?

After a string of unfortunate events so long and arduous as the ones I’m going to describe, one can’t help but feel a little…deflated.

The Hard Goodbye

Having a wonderful free-lease on a wonderful horse, and having to send him back after not being able to collect the funds to buy him.

The Affliction

Getting a knee operation on the understanding that it only means a month without riding – and finding out after said surgery that it’s in fact nine months out of the saddle. Proceed to bang head on wall.

The False Hope

Having an exciting sponsorship opportunity fall through at the last moment. More head banging.

The Broken Horse

Buying the most perfect horse and having her go lame in the warmup for the first jumping lesson since said surgery. Said horse has arthritis and won’t ever be able to compete, and is currently fattening on grass in a pasture as I bid adieu to hopes and dreams of NAJYRC.

The Rejection

Getting dropped out of a clinic with a high-profile clinician at the last moment because of overbooking, when someone had generously loaned me a horse to ride in it. Naturally, I got sick and missed the next clinic after that one.

So how does one deal with such a volley of misfortune? Equal parts tears and laughter, because the worse the situation, the more hilariously terrible it is. Treading slightly into cliché land here: focus on small things that make you happy, and let them fill you with joy.

A crisp and sunny morning ride before school and the way your horse looks at you with their hungry eyes at dinnertime can bring inordinate pleasure, but only if you take note of it. Otherwise, it just slips away unnoticed.

There’s always something that can make you happy, even if you have to dig halfway to China to find it. I never knew how many things about horses made me happy until I was searching desperately for them. Treading further into corniness, there’s also the belief that according to the law of averages, whatever good thing is coming is going to be really, really good.

As one great Thelwell cartoon states, “You can’t expect to win every time.”