By my rough guess, May is 15 this year. Statistically speaking, she was most likely born in the Spring, so 15 it is. Obviously, May has no idea she is 15. Just a week ago, she was dragging me through a 1 stride gymnastic with all the enthusiasm of a 3 yr old thoroughbred. But I would be lying if I said wrapping my head around this number didn’t rock me back onto my heels.
On one hand, I am wildly proud of this little mare. She is brave, confident, and reliable. After nearly 6 years together, we have reached a level of understanding that often results in full blown conversations between the two of us. Most days, I am able to meet her sass with laughter, and on days that I can’t, I am now wise enough to hand the reins over to a pro or just go on a trail ride. When another horse gets loose, I am comfortable enough to wrangle them back with May, and I know that as long as I kick on, we’ll make it to the other side of pretty much any obstacle.
We’ve done more than I ever expected us to do. I bought May as a hail Mary to keep myself in the saddle. I had nearly no budget and wanted something that would help me overcome some demons. The hope and the dream was to find something I could maybe take through a starter-level event one day. In fact, the goal was to put some miles on her and resell her, so I would have the budget to buy a “real” eventing horse. Turns out, she is (and basically has always been) a pretty solid eventing horse. In a lot of ways, she strikes that balance we are all aiming for between a brave, confident horse and one who is sensible and careful.
On the other hand, it’s tough to look at the things we haven’t done and not be disappointed. Our time in KY didn’t coincide with an AECs run. Our move up to Novice has thwarted by moves, life, and a pandemic. Issues with her training that came preinstalled by her lack of education still pop up to haunt us. And my own riding demons never totally disappeared.
Many of us are chasing dreams on the horses we own. Some of those dreams are escaping reality to wander down a trail a few hours a week and some of those dreams include olympic medals. And lately, I have felt myself torn between two different dreams.
One dream is to fully throw myself into enjoying this little mare. Maybe look towards qualifying for a long format BN 3 day, actually join the hunt and hunt her, and maybe even dragging her to every trail I can find in this area of California before I have to drag both of us back across the country. There is a ton of joy to find in that. To enjoy every moment of this super cool horse that life gives me.
The other dream is my desire to campaign a horse at training one day and maybe go after a bronze medal. To have something that is a bit more purpose-bred and able to do more than I have ever really done in my entire 25 years of riding. It would likely require me to hand May’s reins over to someone else at least a couple of times a week, or at least dial down her workload. I can see the logic here, to have a horse coming up (because I cannot afford something finished at that level), while May can still be my security blanket.
But those demons… They sit on my shoulder and whisper in my ear that I don’t ride well enough to sit on anything other than my corgi horse. They warn me that I will ruin anything nice. That I am too old, fat, busy, stupid to do more than strive to be in the ribbons at BN. I fight back with logic, which is mostly ineffectual, and I remind myself of all the growth I have experienced over the last six years.
But for now, I am sitting in between these two dreams. I know that, one day, life might make me choose. May might stop at a fence, and I will know her days of running around even BN are over. Or the perfect leaser comes along for her, and I know life is telling me to find my next partner. Or maybe that next partner shows up in my life unexpectedly, and I end up stepping forward before I even realize I am doing it. Either way, I know that the last 6 years have been the most fun and the most rewarding years I have ever had in the saddle, and I hope to keep having very detailed conversations with May for another decade.