I drove home from the barn tonight, trying not to think about the situation as is stood. I took deep breaths, convincing myself that I was just being selfish and that crying would just confirm what I'd been thinking for weeks - that I was acting spoiled. I needed to just get over it already and accept that just because I wanted something didn't mean that I was entitled to have it. My situation wasn't that bad, right?
Despite giving myself a stern talking-to, a tear brimmed in my eye and fell on my cheek. You big baby, I thought as I wiped it away. Ignoring the tightening in my chest, I blinked the rest of the tears away and got a hold of myself. All this drama is because I feel like my riding is going in a downward spiral that I'm afraid I might not be able to return from. This is due to a combination of my horse being injured and where I have him stabled.
As far as Kaswyn's injury is concerned, I think he's healed. For the most part he feels sound and he's usually willing to work. A few times in the past month he's felt lazy and I've had to work hard to keep him going, and this does worry me a bit. He's seventeen years old now, and having almost two years of inconsistent work mixed with long stretches of rehab makes for a difficult road back to top training form.
I fell like I could be making progress right now, except my barn situation is far from ideal. Like every farm, it's got it's pluses and minuses. On the favorable side, Kaswyn loves it there. He gets out either all day or all night, weather depending. He gets along with his pasture mates, and it's a quiet place since most of the stalls are empty. Also, the board is inexpensive due to the shortcomings of the farm.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of things to list in the "minus" column. Small stalls with no windows or gates. No outdoor arena. No trail access. Small indoor arena that needs a lot of work on the footing to get it the proper depth and level. And, unless I water and drag the arena myself, no arena upkeep is done. Ever. This makes things hard on me because I really don't want to spend my barn time watering and dragging an arena that is not mine. I want to ride and then get home to my family. However, I also don't want to ride in footing that is too dry and have my horse and I breathe in all that dust. So I water. I drag. I spend two hours at the barn and I don't even tack my horse up. Then I go home, dirty, tired, and feeling sorry for myself.
Don't get me wrong. I love the barn owner, who I've known now for sixteen years. She's just really done with the whole boarding barn business. She doesn't want the hassle, so she accepts very few boarders. I know she'd always let me in her barn because we're friends, but she's really not interested in fixing the barn to my liking. I can't say that I blame her either. I'm the only one who rides in the arena, so why should she do two hours of work each week just for me?
I boarded at her place for years until it was clear that Kaswyn needed to work in a full size dressage arena if he was going to progress in his training. When I decided I was going to move him to a different barn I talked with her about it. She was sad to see me go, but understood why it was time to do so. Now that I'm back she sees this as a place for Kaswyn to rehab, or even retire. I don't see it that way at all because I want to get my horse back in the show ring at some point. The only reason why I'm there is because I couldn't afford board at my trainer's old barn anymore.
Which brings me to the reason this has finally all come to a head. A while ago I found out that my trainer was getting her own farm. During my eight years of training with her she had her business in four different barns. Now she has a place of her own, and I couldn't be happier for her. It's the stability and control of her business that she so desperately needed.
When I began training with her, she had just started taking clients and was forming her business. Every time she moved, I moved with her. Twice I fell on hard time financially and had to move Kaswyn out, but I was always able to come back and make it happen. She always was accommodating for me, coming out to any barn to give me lessons or ride Kaswyn. This sounds queer, but I've watched her grow and change in so many ways. She learned about running a business, how to deal with clients, judges, and other trainers, and her riding has continued to improve.
Now, she's got her own place. A farm that she can run the way she sees fit to give her and her horses the best place to train and be successful. She's finally where she's always dreamed that she should be.
I can't be there to share it with her because I can't afford it.
Here is where we hear from the little nasty monster within me. This sucks. It's not fair. I want to be at a barn where everyone rides so that I can watch and learn, instead of being at a barn where I'm the only one who rides. I want to be able to ask other riders if my horse looks off, instead of riding alone a few days a week. I want to be confident in the facility and know that the footing is safe instead of being afraid to ride my horse more than twenty minutes in the too deep, uneven footing. But mostly I want to be there to see her reach her full potential, and to hang out with her again. But it's not meant to happen that way. At least, not right now.
I fully realize how spoiled this makes me sound. First of all, this new barn is not about me, it's about her. Second, I'm lucky that I even get to have a horse. Some people can't even afford the cheap board that I'm paying. Lastly, I have a great husband, two adorable, smart, healthy girls, and a good job. We have food to eat every night, cars to drive, and beds to sleep in. I'm very fortunate.
But I want more. Is that so wrong? That's something that I've been asking myself a lot lately. It ran through my mind again as I was driving home. You see, I had stopped by the new barn before heading out to pick up the girls. The horses had just moved in yesterday, and I wanted to stop in and see how things were going. Everything was clean, well organized, the horses looked happy. Most importantly, my trainer looked happy.
She was there with her mom and another student who I've known for years. I only had a few minutes to talk, and then I had to go. We made plans to meet later this week, and as I got in my car and drove out of the driveway the wave of sadness broke over me. Somehow I was able to control myself and I didn't allow myself to actually cry. But there were definitely tears in my eyes over this. And I imagine they won't be the last ones.