Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Spilling over

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.


spottheblogger said...

I ended up in your blog today following a circuitous route. I hope you are willing to consider that the reason you aren't at your trainer's new barn is because you don't believe you can do it. Change your thinking. Change from "I can't have that" to "I CAN have that, there is a way, I just have to believe!". Stay focused on manifesting this desire into your life and a way will appear. I know this sounds like some crazy new-age thinking, but I've been putting this to work for me in my life, and in the past 6 months I've manifested many of the things I previously thought I could "never have". My journey started with an acquaintance who bought me the books-on-tape DVD of The Secret. It took several iterations of listening, and buying they book (and a source book The Circle) before I really got the hang of positive manifestations. Now I have great parking Karma. I manifested a horse trainer to start my horse under saddle for me in exchange for my photography services. I'm making more and more money on my photography. Enough opportunities keep coming my way that I can actually step back and make sure that the opportunity is the right one for me at the time - I ask myself "is this a step that moves me closer to my goals". In the past, opportunities were scarce and I took them all - which often led to going down a dead end in a direction away from my goals!

So if you really want to be in your trainer's new barn, manifest this in your life. Don't worry about the how, just be certain that the how will happen. If you are certain it will happen, you will recognize the steps when they come. Maybe you will be given an opportunity to do something special that results in a raise, or bonus, or a better paying job, or a consulting/part-time job that pays far more than you make now. Maybe you will come into some money. Maybe some old thing you have hanging around will suddenly be worth a lot of money and you will sell it. Maybe your trainer needs your services and will offer to trade services for board. Keep an open mind and don't worry about "how" - just be certain that it WILL happen and you can manifest it in your life.

Good luck!

Kim Ayars said...

Oooh, you made me cry! I think that is one of my worst fears, is to be "alone" in my horse ownership. I completely understand your desire to be "a part of it." No, I don't think you're being spoiled or selfish. I want the same thing. If you didn't have goals or hopes, then where would you be? Why would you want to improve? Have faith, be patient, and keep working toward your goals. You'll get there.

Beckz said...

That actually really sucks. I can understand your frustraton because you still have dreams for your horseand yourself and they are basically unattainable in the situation you are now. I can fully understand you getting upset, you have had a tough couple of years with your horse eh.

Katee said...

This stinks. I really wish you could be in your trainer's barn surrounded by other student riders. That would be great.

Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy a nice stall in a great barn! My advice: win the lottery. Of course you'll have to share your winnings with me since it was my idea in the first place. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry :(. I don't blame you one bit for wanting more. That doesn't sound wrong at all.

xylia said...

I completely hear you--I haven't ridden my now 8 y.o. OTTB more than 3 months of the year for the last three years. I've had fear issues and health issues and he's had health issues, including the massive solar abscess that he's just now starting back from. I used to ride anything and not be afraid, but he dumped me hard and it really shook me, plus he's a big spook (though I think his abscess was lurking for a loooong time and causing issues). I bought him to sell in a year or two and now it's been four. I've had LOTS of nonriding time to beat myself up over being fearful, spending board and vet money on a horse I'm not riding and struggling with, at failing at making a small business of training and selling horses work. All my money and time and energy for what? But I've learned a lot about myself and my horse and I have to think that it will be worth it in the end. I've decided that really riding dressage and getting to GP is my life's dream, and I am going to do it. Maybe I'll have to get rid of this horse (don't want to--love his personality, and most of all, I want *some* kind of success with him). But I am determined to do it. I realize I will have to make some sacrifices and be really creative to get there. I miss my trainer too--we moved three hours away from her and she's only ever even seen my horse once, much less been available to teach me. So, even if you can't board with her, maybe one or two days a month you could trailer over, have a lesson, hang out all day with her and the other horse people? (My husband was so grateful when I found a few pals at my barn to talk horse with!) Is there something you can cut out of your budget without impacting your family? Can you hire someone to do the arena maintenance once a week, like a teen who lives nearby?

At any rate, accept that you want what you want. Don't beat yourself up about wanting it (heaven knows I do enough of that for you and me both!) It's part of your dream, and it's understandably saddening if you can't have it. But keep plugging away at it and look at the underlying causes of the things that are holding you back--you may just find that they're not so insurmountable after all.

OnTheBit said...

I was in the same position as you about two years ago. Complete with tears as I was driving out the drive way of my trainers dream farm on my way to the less than perfect barn I had my horse. I could not afford my trainers barn long term, I knew that, but I also knew that my horse was not getting any younger. I took a chance and moved to my trainers barn just for the summer. She knew that going in and so did I. It was tough getting the board together for those 4 months but it was totally worth it in the end. I learned so much and it was great to have my trainer around all the time. The barn became like a family. I moved my horse at the end of the summer and was bummed about it, but glad I went ahead and did it. I know it is not the perfect solution for you and Kaswyn, but I don't know if there is a perfect solution out there. At least if you gave it a few months you could enjoy him in consistant work for a bit and re-evaluate from there. Good luck and let us all know what you decide.

dressagemom said...


Someone else also just recommended that book to me. I'll have to go and pick it up. I've said for years now that there has never been anything in my life that I've REALLY REALLY wanted that I've not been able to get. It took me 20 years but I finally got that National championship trophy. So I know I can make this happen eventually. Still, I need to pick up the book.


I'm trying to be patient. Now if I could just have my horse get younger instead of older I'd be willing to wait more.


Yes, we've had a tough time but I've learned so much about lameness and how my horse reacts to pain. I wish it didnt' all happen but at least I got something out of it.


I'm working on winning the lottery. It's one of those things that I REALLY want that hopefully I'l be able to make happen! Do I ahve to give you half or would you take like 30%? :)


Thanks. Sometimes it helps to hear that.


I would love to trailer over for lessons, but I'm trailerless right now. Also I'd be a little hesitant to hire someone else to do arena work. first, it's not my barn. Second, I'm a bit of a control freak and I'd want the work done my way (meaning the right way!) and if someone else messes up the footing I'd be mad and I'm sure Marge would be mad too.

On the bit,

A short term boarding situation at her farm sounds great. I know I can't make that happen financially right now. Besides my big vet bills and credit cards we're trying to pay off we just spent (over the past two years) about $18K fixing a massive water problem at our house. I made the expensive board thing work for as long as I could, but in February my kids tuition and my health insurance both went up, and I had to bail. I was just lucky that I had a less expensive, safe place to go. I'm hoping someday soon our financial situation will change.

SolitaireMare said...

I feel for you Dressage Mom.

I left my trainer and the show barn 7 years ago. Mostly because working full time and then driving 40 minutes to the barn and 40 minutes home brought me home by 12:00AM and then I had to repeat the process 5 days a week. I was a walking, driving zombie and this was before the kids came along!

In the beginning, my trainer used to drive in to where I board to freelance train me but his show schedule and my work/life/family schedule fell further out of sync and for me to trailer out to where he is will cost me half a day at best and I just don't have that kind of time. Plus there is no indoor arena where I am so I'd lose 3 months of training each winter when the ground got frozen and the footing was nasty.

Where I board, nobody goes to shows, they mostly pleasure ride. Do I miss being at a "show barn" with all the motivation? YOU BET! Working full time, getting married and having a high maintenance family sometimes feels like I traded in my passion for horse showing for something that's less than great. But I can't go back and I can't look back. So I school by myself, I trail ride, I hunter pace and every once in a while, I wind up at a show. I don't worry about perfection like I used to and I have FUN, more than I think I ever did before.

Use a vision/analogy that motivates me - and it's a reference I know you can relate to. You are riding a dressage test of your life. As in dressage, each movement stands alone, yet affects the others. Once a movement is completed, you cannot change that movement if it was a mistake but you can improve the one that comes next. In the end, it's the total score that counts, not one bad transition.

And right now you are in a period of bad transition, but you have to move on, you must expend your energy to create a new future for you and Kaswyn - you need to focus on your next "movement" not what has happened already.

Since your trainer is more than just a trainer and you have a relationship with her, why not gently explain your situation to her. Let her know that while she would be your choice in a heartbeat to school with, is there someone trustworthy she could recommend that you could work with now that would fit your situation? I know we tend to get comfortable with someone we have been successful with in the past but there is much to be gained by exploring someone else's expertise.

Have you seriously shopped around for a different boarding situation, one more in tune with your desires? If you are worried about your current barn owner finding out you are looking, take another, trusted horsey friend as a "cover" and make like you are just going with her to search for a new barn for HER. When I moved, I went to all the show barns in my area first and each one had policies that would have been a problem for me. I was about to resign myself to suffering through the commute when someone told me about the place I am at now. I never knew this place even accepted boarders! But it has been a pleasure to stay here - and I know the move was the right one.

Sorry for my lengthy reply but I feel you. You are entitled to your feelings, sulk, cry, scream in the car when you are alone (I've done that, and it always makes me start to laugh because screaming in the car when you are alone feels good but so absurd!). Then get moving and work on what you need to do to create your new happiness.

And if you ever need a kick in the pants or a pat on the back, post it and we'll all be more than happy to boost you back in the saddle!

dressagemom said...

Solitaire Mare,

I might have given the wrong impression, but my trainer will gladly travel to my barn and train me. The problem is the arena is in bad shape as far as footing goes and I'm hesitant to really train hard in there. Her barn is only 10 minutes from where I board now, and I know she'd drive farther for me.

As far as other barns, there are many in my area but unfortunately they are either quite expensive or not a place that I would consider bringing my horse to.

I haven't given up hope on this situation, although it might sound like it. However, a boost every now and then is a good thing. As is a well timed kick in the pants. :) So thanks for the support!

jesterjigger said...

I really feel for you too. Due to my job I must move every 3-4 years and I am worried with every move that I won't find a trainer I like as much as the one I'm currently using, or a place to board at that takes as good of care of my horses with the same amenities. I can understand the disappointment, and feeling left behind. It sounds like a nice silver lining that you can still work with your trainer, even if it can't be the way you wanted. Is it possible that you could take your horse there for a weeklong boot camp every couple of months? That way you can experience life at the new barn without having the full price tag?

dressagemom said...


A week long bootcamp is a great idea. I think I'd be able to afford one week of board every two months. It would all depend on if she'd have a stall available, of course, but fortunately she has run-in sheds with stalls in them that maybe Kaswyn could stay in for just a week.

Thanks for the idea! I'll run it past her!

Wiola said...

Oh, dressagemum, that brought tears to my eyes :(
I could say you are lucky to even have a horse and be able to afford an inexpensive livery. I could say you are very lucky to have your own house and a car and healthy family.
But...I know exactly what you mean as there isn't a day in my life that passes without me hoping/wanting to be able to train and compete again. And yet I have to be forever patient (almost starting to hate that word), forever trying to save to even be able to have a good training once in a few months...I feel like I am wasting my time and should do something but there is so many side circumstances which make things impossible right now.
I am trying to plow through it all but sometimes it's hard. It makes me cry which in turn makes me feel ungrateful and childish.
It is difficult to really want something. I think people with no ambitions have easier lives...

Hooves crossed for short term training opportunities. Maybe I should get that book too...

Rising Rainbow said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with you feeling this way. You aren't wanting your trainer not to have her dream, you're wanting to join her. I hope it will work out.

The boot camp idea sounds like a good compromise. I hope that it works out.

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