I was musing yesterday about a couple of memes circulating the internet (I know they are often not meant for deep contemplation but there you go!) saying things like, “I don’t know who needs to hear this today but go ride your horse- you’ll feel better after” or a variation of that. And because the internet (and social media in particular) is a breeding ground for comparing-ourselves-to-other-people-and-stranding-ourselves-on-not-good-enough-island, I wanted to write a few words for those of us who perhaps aren’t finding solace in their horsing life now or who would even go so far as to identify it as a major stressor.
So. let’s get a couple of things out of the way so we can have an open conversation about it.
- It’s not the horse’s fault. We all get that.
- We love our horses. This conversation does not create a binary of a lack of love
But sometimes, when a particular area of your life is a struggle- particularly when that area of your life is something that you choose to do for joy- there can be a lot of shame attached to the realization that right now, you really aren’t having fun with it at all. Maybe even you resent it a bit. And it can feel difficult to talk about it truthfully because chances are you’ve put a lot of money into it, it takes time away from other things (like family for instance), and you feel like you *should* be loving it (but you’re really not right now).
Where does that leave you? Here are a few things I think are important to know and consider.
- It’s more realistic to expect challenges than it is to be surprised by them
It’s ok. Whenever you are in a long-term relationship with anything or anyone, there are going to be moments where things dip out a bit. We’ve developed this unrealistic notion that if we aren’t constantly happy or joyful, we are failing. Which in and of itself is ridiculous.
It’s ok to be struggling or challenged by something. We just have to make sure that we don’t stay stuck there. It’s a delicate dance of action-taking and assessment making. That worked, that didn’t, a tweak here, a decision there and onwards.
Be gentle with you.
- Call in the experts
If you are facing a specific challenge- maybe your horse is presenting you with something you don’t know how to deal with or maybe you have a confidence niggle you know is the limiting piece- reach out for help. There are people that dedicate their lives to the one thing that you are stuck with. Like me, literally, all I do all day is talk about, study, and help people with situations where their confidence might be wobbly or their nervous system is out of whack. If you need help cooking Lasagna, I’m not your girl. But if the former is what’s up, hit me up.
Likewise, with training issues, there are hosts of amazing people who devote their lives to that thing. Ask them. Work with them. Get help.
Know that if you ask lots of people their opinion, they will give it to you. And that can be confusing- especially if they are shooting in the dark or don’t have the expertise in that area that they perhaps think they do.
Be discerning. But reach out for help. People want to help, but you have to ask for it.
- Claim your space
If you are online a lot or trawling through social media and the comparisons of people having a lovely time and doing what you want to be doing but feel like you can’t currently is sending you to Camp Crappy, call time out. Claim your space.
Switch off your phone, shut the laptop, take the app off your phone, throw it into the river, whatever. But claim your headspace and recognize engaging in those things is a (very seductive) choice. Nervous system wise, comparison is a beast of burden. We need to avoid it at all costs.
It’s ok to have time out. We all need to do that. Protect your headspace so you can make choices that are in the best interest of you and your horse.
There’s nothing wrong with being in a sticky spot. It’s normal. And it’s also temporary.
What’s more, there is no such thing as a wrong decision. Every move you make gives you more information about the present. We just have to keep on keeping on.
p.s. I did actually make a great Lasagna once. I surprised myself.