In the Night Farm…Your Ride is Here.


Raise your hand if you remember the beginning of this blog.

I was disciplined!  I mapped out training sessions for every horse, all summer, on a spreadsheet.  In January.  I knew months in advance which horses would be trained on which days.  In Aaruba’s case, I knew how far and fast we’d ride, over what kind of terrain.  I scheduled 2-3 horses per evening, 6 on weekend days, with Friday’s off.

Some of you think I’m kidding.  I assure you, I am not.

If it had worked, I’d be riding all the Barbs by now, and competing with four of them.  It might have worked, had I been able to control the little things like weather and life.  But I couldn’t, and it didn’t.  Our springs turned windy and rainy, the round corral slick with mud.  Aaruba developed chronic colic.  I tore my hamstring.  Consolation tied up.  I got un-married.  A job-related nightmare dragged on for months.

The thing about setting goals and failing to reach them is that you get discouraged.  Impatient.  You forget to enjoy the journey.  You beat yourself up.  And none of that gets anything done faster, unless you count burning yourself out.  So, I finally got smart and quit planning so much.  I set far more general goals and relaxed about the scramble toward them.  I focused on other things.  I took days off.

The thing is, that didn’t get the horses trained, either.  So here I am, with Aaruba out of commission, Consolation as my reliable mount, Acey very green under saddle, and Ripple in the pre-riding groundwork phase.  When anything goes wrong with Consolation, I’m out of the running for endurance rides, which are one of the major rewards for all this work.  And I’ve had it.  It’s time to polish up more horses. 

Don’t worry; I won’t get out the spreadsheet.  But I will resume some of my old, laser-focus…without sacrificing my newfound flexibility.  At least, that’s the idea…

My major goals for this summer are to get Acey ready for competition and Ripple well started so she can compete next year.  In that order.  If I have time to train just one horse, it’ll typically be Acey.  Ripple will be next in line.  (All this remains within the context of Consolation’s conditioning, of course.)  I’m going to be more adaptable when it comes to adverse weather.  It’s amazing what you can accomplish despite wind and rain, if you put your mind to it.

Take yesterday, for example:

Rain until 10am.  Stay inside for coffee, breakfast, and blogging.  Round corral soaked.  Catch Acey anyway.  Note that she feels too “high” to safely ride out.  Trim hooves, walk 1 mile on pavement (for hooves), practice trailer loading.  Catch Consolation.  Handgraze, trim hooves, practice trailer loading.  Put her away and run inside just ahead of a storm.  Hunker down with tea and a Mary Twelveponies book until rain finally stops at 3pm.  Head back outside.  Catch Ripple, who is extremely nervy.  Take for brief walk along road.  Back off and work on bending in the farmyard instead.  Get Consolation back out, go for handwalk along the canal.  Give her a massage.  Finish just in time for thunderstorms and pouring rain.  Work out indoors.  Do chores in light rain.  Make dinner and enjoy evening with Ironman. 

See?  It can be done!  (Remind me I said that.)


10 responses

  1. Great post! Well said: The things life teaches us over-time about setting goals and enjoying life at the same time.

    May 28, 2011 at 9:20 am

    • Yes. It’s easy for driven people to focus too much, and easy for more carefree people to focus too little. Maximizing the potential of either personality takes discipline — but they’re different kinds of discipline. Use the wrong kind, and you’ll make matters worse.

      May 31, 2011 at 7:00 am

  2. I remember those spreadsheets and your busy schedule…your new philosophy seems much more sane and attainable. You sound ok with it. Good!

    May 28, 2011 at 6:42 pm

  3. Rosanne

    Your new plan sounds like a very workable one. Allowing flexibility in your training schedule will make your training time seem even more fun for you and your horses.

    May 28, 2011 at 8:10 pm

  4. I love reading your blog and hearing about your horses….and I admire your determination. Setbacks, though unfortunate, are what make us human….and it’s how we handle them that shows what kind of person we are.

    I want more than anything to try an LD or competitive ride…..and I will someday. For now I’m trying to apply my focus to the little things that will one day make that possible….things like budgeting my money better & saving. Getting out and getting exercise both with, and without my horse, eating better (& loosing weight), saving for-finding- and buying a small horse trailer….and last of all seeking an equine partner capable of doing distance riding (not that I will ever part with my current horse – but he’s a senior citizen with some arthritis and will never be able to do distance competitions).

    I am also thinking about volunteering to help at some rides in my area to meet others and learn more 🙂

    My point in all this is that you are one of a (very) few bloggers that are an inspiration to me. I have my favorite posts marked and I find when I need encoragement – I can go back and read them…..and that helps.

    Thank You

    May 29, 2011 at 7:02 am

    • Aww, thanks Carol! It’s the occasional comments like this that have kept me blogging for all these years. 🙂

      I definitely recommend volunteering at a ride! It’s great fun and very educational.

      May 31, 2011 at 6:58 am

  5. Oh…and I forgot to add.
    Grif and I ride (and walk together) in the rain often. Windy, rainy, and generally crummy days provide great teaching experiences to help my boy be a bit more brave when away from home. Once you’ve had a walk through tree-snapping and wind and rain — then a sunny day ride is a piece of cake ( and I find that I enjoy it more and don’t take it for granted). 🙂

    May 29, 2011 at 7:11 am

    • Yes! I play things by ear when working horses in adverse weather conditions (sometimes scaling back what I ask of them), but it surely does make me appreciate the nice days more!

      May 31, 2011 at 6:56 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s