The 4 C's
Covid, Cold, Couch, Coffee
That's how I've spent the last few weeks...almost the whole of the year so far, really. My husband and I were exposed to Covid over the holidays, we both ended up testing positive and having mild symptoms. Quarantine combined with the cold weather in Ohio has allowed some time for settling into my comfy couch with a mug of hot coffee and my thoughts.
With all the resources available through USEA and USEF, I have been doing my version of online school; streaming video of the USEF Horsemastership Training Series, the ICP Open Forum, Dover Horsemastership Clinic, and reading ICP recommended books and articles. Starting on my way to ICP certification and preparing to relocate has prompted some evaluation of my hopes and dreams in terms of my equestrian career. Surprisingly, understanding my horsey goals is helping paint a good picture of what I want my life to be like outside of the horses as well.
I got involved with horses at age 9, since then most of my time has been dedicated to horses: riding, learning about riding, watching people ride, and making plans for riding. When I was in middle school, my class was tasked with writing as essay about what we wanted to be when we grow up. I wrote in detail about three-day eventing and show jumping, stating that I would be a professional rider like Karen O'Connor and Beezie Madden. Those awesome women riders were my role models in the sport, they were also the only women pros I knew of at that time. Today, I know of and know personally many more than two professional women riders - most of the sport is made up of women! And I'm finding myself trying not to be just like them. Or maybe, not like the portrayal of them in (social) media. Seeing the tippy-top competitors winning at the fancy shows and getting selected to teams, it's easy to let the pressure of "should" creep in.
Should I be doing what they're doing?
Am I a real professional if I don't compete at the top of the sport?
...if I don't spend the winter training in Ocala or Aiken?
...if I don't have a million clients and work 10-million hours?
...if I have a life outside of horses?
I do not aspire to compete at the top level - nor have I ever. My focus has never been on competing, not even in 7th grade basketball. I have always been most interested in learning, improving, and participating. I aspire to reach the level of skill that is required for the top level, but compete there? Ehh, not so much. Being like Karen and Beezie never meant that I would go to the Olympics, I just wanted to be a professional. Since I do not imagine myself becoming an olympian, how about I don't compare myself to people on that path? There are many ways to be a professional in equestrian sport, I get to create the way that works for me.
As much as I love being in the barn, I love being with my family, reading, baking, traveling, and so on. Spending every waking moment thinking about horses doesn't make me any more professional, or any more of a horsewoman. I am allowed to be a person separate from horses, in fact I have to be! I have tried it the other way and been completely miserable. So when my students come to a lesson and say "I haven't ridden all week" I do not judge them for that. I understand that their life includes many things other than horses, mine does too. I know you have your own idea about the role horses play in your life, too. We are not all reaching for the same goal, no one path is the only way. The only thing we "should" do is whatever leads to the truest and most beautiful life we can imagine for ourselves. #untamed
So what are my goals then? Well, I'd like to keep my horses and myself sound and happy, which always turns out to be easier said than done! For starters, I plan to get settled in my new home, and get the horses settled in theirs. After those adjustments are made, I'm looking forward to getting Milo out and about to learn his new job, earning more Bronze Medal scores with Carter, and completing my ICP certification. If that's not enough, exploring the DC area and meeting new people, finding our new "regular place" for dinner and drinks, getting back into running, and all the other normal life things are on the list as well.
When we were kids my dad would say "Wherever you go, there you are!" my sisters and I would look at each other and laugh, thinking 'yep, Dad's saying weird stuff again.' I was probably thirty years old before I understood what he meant. Same me, different city.
Good job staying warm out there, Carter!