The End of Lofty Goals

I took a much needed sanity break.  My inspiration for these posts comes from two main sources – my own little herd and what is going on in the horseworld at large.  As the year wound down, I found that I had little time for the former, and little patience for the latter.  So, I took a step back, focused on what I needed to, and tried to piece together where I go from here.  The first, and most obvious, adjustment that I had to make was to my goals.

Nash and me in our initial attempt to renew our partnership.
Nash and me in our initial attempt to renew our partnership.

It has been just over four years since I started my journey back to serious riding.  My goals seemed rather reasonable at the time:

  • Get Nash and me back to fit, and pick up where we’d left off
  • Get Tally started under saddle and determine her future direction
  • Renew lessons with my former mentor
  • Try some local schooling shows to see if I wanted to return to competition

My long, long term goals were to work toward earning my USDF medals (if competition was appealing) and to return to teaching riding.  All in all, with my background, this seemed like a rather modest set of goals.

The journey started off well, with a couple of months of fabulous rides on Nash.  We were both unfit, but otherwise picked up as if we’d had no pause in our work together.  Nash felt strong and his responses were light and immediate.  It felt great!

Winter came and we had a brief wash out, but I looked forward to starting again at the first opportunity.  And that’s when it all went wrong:

  • Nash fractured his pelvis slipping in his stall
  • Java threw and then trampled my mother, leading to his retirement and leaving us with no rideable horse
  • Tally was coming along slowly, but later that year went to the trainer that ruined her in body and mind
Noble showing the foal "snapping" behavior toward an annoyed Coffee - "I mean no harm!"
Noble and Coffee in the early days.

That same year saw Coffee and Noble join our family.  Coffee was a blessing – but required far more retraining than I’d anticipated.  Soon, a year had passed with no riding.

For those who have followed this blog for any time, you know the rest – injuries and illness to horses and myself followed, one after the other, along with a massive time-sucking project at work.  And so, four years after that first winter break, I can probably count on my fingers how many times I’ve actually been in the saddle.

The fact that my goals seemed relatively simple and unambitious has only made the last few years all the more frustrating.  I’ve attempted to get my mind “back in the game” through writing in this blog and participating in Facebook groups of seemingly like-minded people.  This blog has been a blessing, but as my patience for my journey ran out so did my inspiration.

As for the Facebook groups, I have had many thoughtful exchanges that have rejuvenated old pathways in the brain.  It kept me thinking and learning, even when I could not ride.  However, there is a limit to what your brain is willing to chew on when you cannot actually take action on any of it.  In addition, the repetitive nature of the posts and arguments over the years has gotten somewhat tiring.  Even once seemingly reasonable people are now sounding more dogmatic – something I have never seen as being useful around horses – so, it was time to step away from the internet.

Roxie, our newest herd member, soon after her arrival.
Roxie, our newest herd member, soon after her arrival.

So, where do you go when your seemingly reasonable dreams now feel like Olympic level goals?  How do you jog when you clearly are not yet able to crawl?  As some may remember, last year I determined that my first step was to have something … anything … that I could throw a saddle on and ride.  There were some dead ends in my search, but by late November we finally added Roxie to our herd (more on her in a later post).

Of course, the last four years have not been without some progress:

  • Mom is having a blast riding her Coffee, who now is a different horse from the horse I brought home.  The handful of times I rode him, late this year, he felt great and is clearly ready for some further training under saddle.
  • Tally is moving better than she has since before she went to the trainer who literally broke her.  We clearly underestimated the physical damage from that experience.  She also will work calmly while a team of contractors runs a Bobcat and installs culvert pipe a mere twenty feet from where she’s working (proven just this past week).

On the other hand, Nash is retired due to a series of health issues.  His health and behavior are stable, at the moment – but Spring may bring new challenges.  And young Noble continues to assert his size and strength whenever it suits him.

So, as I face 2017, my goals have now become much simpler:

  • Just be able to ride!

At this point I would be happy to get some saddle time every week.  If we can get some miles in on local trails, I’d be ecstatic.  I no longer have any ambition beyond that.  Before I can run, I have to learn to walk again.

We will keep up on everyone’s training – it’s good for all of us.  What the future holds for Tally and Noble is a question mark.  Will I ever have the time and fitness to do them justice?  Looking back on the struggles of these four years, I’m inclined to say “No.”  We shall see if this year changes that answer.

My "little man" Jake.
My “little man” Jake.

I will endeavor to pick up “pen” and share more of our journey in 2017.  I will be working on a new look for the blog, and I will be adding a new section – Gone to the Dogs.  Aside from adding Roxie to the herd, I have also become “mom” to a most charming little Shetland Sheepdog, Jake.  I am once again smitten with a dog – something I wasn’t sure would ever happen again.  So, you will occasionally be treated to tales of his escapades or thoughts on dog raising.

I thank all of you for following and reading.  I hope that the start of 2017 finds you happy and healthy.  May 2017 be better than 2016 seemed to be for so many.  And may you reach all of your goals – whether simple or lofty!

Happy New Year!


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