I wish I could truly let go of the equestrian world. Even if I have no contact with other equestrians by now, at least not in “real life,” I still find it hard not to question the way I am keeping my horses.
I haven’t really ridden in about a year. I completely lost interest in riding last year, and I am not blaming the equestrian world entirely. I realize that it’s not just that I have become disillusioned. It’s me, not being able to handle anything aside from the absolute “need to do” things on an everyday basis. Call it depression, call it by whatever name you want. It hardly matters. Truth is, I have been struggling with doing simple things, like I used to. Like ride my horses.
It’s not a new sensation to me. I’ve always had dark spells in my life, where I have had a hard time getting through the days, but this… I have never tried to lose interest in riding so completely before.
I keep going back an forth between telling myself that it is okay, and freaking out because what comes next? What if I end up giving up on horses all together? What if I end up convincing myself that they may be better off somewhere else, with someone who wants to ride them, and train them and use their talents?
What if they are?
I have days where I sit on my pasture and wonder if they are bored. I mean, they have each other, they play and they are happy, really. But still. A mind like the one Tardis possess. Or Apocalipse. Do they need challenges? Am I preventing them from reaching their full potential, by not training them? Are we not developing their intelligence like we should? Am I holding them back, because I can not handle being the trainer I used to be?
The truthful answer is yes. No doubt about it.
The question is, then, does it matter? If they are happy, healthy, cared for, and well fed, do they need to develop their intelligence as much as possible? Do they need to be challenged, trained, and do they need to leave the pasture?
I guess that is the joy of owning an animal. As much as you are responsible for making sure that it is not dangerous to others, you are responsible as well, for making sure the animal is happy, healthy and stimulated.
And that brings us to the other side. The side of me that keeps telling me that it is okay.
They are young, they still need to grow up. I shouldn’t ride most of them anyway. Honestly, even though Apocalipse is turning 6 this year, I still look at him and wonder if he is ever going to be done growing up. His shoulder still looks too fragile for carrying a rider, which weakens his back. Even if I had not lost interest, I probably wouldn’t be riding him yet.
But I could still train him, like I used to. Run with him, play with him, take him for walks on the road…
I just don’t.
I can’t. I don’t have it in my anymore.
There is so much he needs to learn, still, and I just don’t know if I can do it all one more time. Or four more times, with Tardis, Ablaze and Marble as well.
Sometimes, I find myself thinking that I should buy an old horse, that is broken in, and safe to ride on the roads. Maybe then, I’d start riding again? Maybe then, I’d find the energy to bring the young ones onto the road again, as well? If Apollon had not died, would I have given up like this?
Ablaze is turning three this summer. I have not had him on the road once.
The mere thought of that, is freaking me out. I have never had a young horse, I have trained so little. All my other horses has been on the road, alone and with others, long before they turned three.
I can’t help but wonder if I am letting him down greatly, by not taking him for walks. And then again, why should he be forced to learn to handle cars and traffic and leaving home, at a young age, if we can do it later, when he is more mature, and I (hopefully) are more up for it? Am I doing damage here, by doing nothing, that I cannot undo in the future?
I always believed so. I always believed that horses should be trained when they were young. I always believed that if you didn’t, they would never really develop and they would never really fell safe with leaving he herd.
I guess time will tell if I have been wrong all my life, or if Ablaze is growing up to be a horse that will stay on the pasture forever.
And so what if he is? As long as he is happy, right?
One of the things I love so much about him, is how pure he is. How untrained. Untamed. Unbroken. This is the one horse I have raised who has no concept of violence, no idea of restraints or being forced. I never want that to change. But I don’t know how to translate, not forcing him, not restraining him, into taking him for walks outside the fence. Bringing a horse into traffic, is a huge responsibility, not just to the horse, but to the people as well. I would have to teach him to respect the halter without question. I would have to teach him that when I say “no,” it’s not up for debate.
I would hate that. I love it when I play with him, and I see nothing in his eyes, indicating that he is doing it because he knows he has to. He plays, because he wants to.
When I play with Apocalipse, there is always this glimmer behind his eyes, telling me that he knows. He knows, that if he doesn’t play along, I’ll probably try and make him. I hate seeing that in him. I hate that I taught him to accept a halter when he was a foal. I hate that he got injured, and that I had to tie him up and wrap him in bandages everyday for months on end, when he was a year old. I don’t know how I would have done it differently, looking back, because it was a matter of his life and his future, but it still haunts me.
Truth is, I guess, that I don’t want to force them to do anything, ever. And I am finding it very hard to unite that with doing the things I used to do. Like train them. Take them on the road. Ride them. And so, I don’t. I just let one day take another.
I was actually wondering today, if Saleem would mind going for a ride one of these days. He has been ridden a lot in the past and even if I am changing his training to exclude the bridle, he is the one horse I have, that I can actually trust on the road.
So why don’t I ride him?
I honestly don’t know. Maybe I feel that he is better of not ridden, with his headshaking and his frail mind. Maybe I just can’t handle it, when push comes to shove, because I don’t have the energy for more than carrying kilo after kilo of hay onto the pasture, making sure they never need anything. Maybe I don’t trust that I can handle him on the road, without the bridle, and dusting off the bridle again, would be too big a defeat? How much of this is my stubbornness, battling my insecurities?
And so, I turn to Tardis. I should train her. She is turning seven this year and she is hardly broken in. I should make it my goal to at least do that, this year. I actually want to ride her. I love her mindset and her courage. So why don’t I?
Why don’t I.
I wish I knew.
Maybe I am just really tired of being an equestrian. Of the responsibility, of always being broke, of always worrying over something, and of always feeling like I don’t quite measure up. This has been my life for 22 years. I have felt stuck before, but I was always able to put it aside and accept that you can’t have everything and as long as I had my horses, I would be okay. So maybe, losing four of them in two years, shook that conviction. I don’t know.
For now, though, all I can cling to, is that the little ones are happy.
Even when I flash my camera in their faces in the middle of the night. They are happy. And they are just going to have to wait for me, to bounce back.
I will. Someday.
For now, I cling to the one horse that keeps me sane. The one horse that has no expectations from me. The one horse who is always honestly happy to see me.
My Ablazing Legacy. He always forgives me, even if I don’t. As long as he gets to lick my face, he has had a good day. That has to make me smile, no matter what.