woman and horse

“In mythic symbolism world-wide, both horses and ponies represent the following things: Physical strength, inner strength, vitality, appetite for life, the driving force that carries you forward, the driving force that overcomes obstacles, passion, movement, flow, self-expression, and that which makes you thrive. They are also symbols of vital life forces held in perfect, exquisite balance: love and devotion paired with freedom and mobility; the wild and instinctive supported by the disciplined and domestic; strength balanced with vulnerability, mastery with modesty, power with compassion.” ~ Teri Windling, “Mist, Wild Ponies and the Animate Earth” 

Horses and all they represent have lifted and carried me at times in my life when I felt powerless, weak and afraid. They have provided me moments of grounding and peace when I most needed them.

However, like all beings, horses age and as they do so, that strength and vitality begins to wane.

horse being nebulized

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horse trail riding
horse trail riding

Trail Riding in 2012

Okay, so this blog post has been through a couple reiterations because I wanted to quit writing about my up-and-down, roller coaster life and start writing posts that would be useful to people. What I discovered is that I may not be any good at being useful.

So here’s the scoop, I’m trying to simplify my life. Right?

And I was going to start doing that last week, after my Tuesday morning blog post. Well, about four hours after I published my post, I received a text message that the barn I’m boarding Luke at was closing and I should find a place to move him as soon as possible.

Now the point of writing this is not to complain about the people running the barn. Shit happens. No one knows that better than me. I really like these people and I wish them all the best, but I had that “What the f’#!” reaction accompanied by a shortness of breath and I’m going to barf feeling.

I called and emailed as many boarding places as I could find in my area that I could afford – which amounted to five places. Only three of the five responded back to me. I visited one boarding place a day.  The third one I visited didn’t actually have any spaces, but I had heard good things about it and since they offered to show me around, I stopped in so I would have information for future reference, which I’m glad I did. I met a couple really nice people there and learned about an amazing saddle I now wish I could afford – an Ansur saddle.  Lighter than what I have and sounds like it would fit Luke so much better.

Oops, I wandered off topic with saddle lust…

The other two boarding places I visited were small, backyard setups with no indoor arena and no place to park a trailer. One of them doesn’t have an outdoor arena either, but it is right across the street from one of my favorite parks to ride — the one I’m pictured riding at above. There goes any immediate need to know how to hook up and back up my trailer in order to go trail riding!

So that’s where I’m going to board.

Finding a place to park my trailer was another challenge, but a very generous friend has volunteered to let me park at her place.

I did get a follow up message that something has been worked out at the barn Luke is at and he could remain where he is. But we’re still moving since trail riding is what I want to do, but haven’t been able to do for the past four years. I hope Luke hasn’t forgotten how to be brave on the trails by himself.

Who am I kidding? I hope I haven’t forgotten how to be brave!

We’ll find a way to deal with all that. Because what initially sent me into a panic looks like it could turn out for the best.

Funny how that works…

horse in trailer

fat tire biking on trail

bridge across river

I’ve come to rely on my GPS to get to my destination. It’s a safer way to navigate than the paper maps I used to use — looking down at the map, up at the road, down at the map — all the while losing my place amongst the list of turns.

When I would miss a turn, first I’d swear a lot, then hysterical call someone, expecting them to gather immediately where I was and be able to get me back on track.

Now I pull out my GPS, plug in an address and follow the route the electronic voice calls out to me. But sometimes the directive to “Take exit 35C” cannot be followed because the exit is blocked and some orange detour sign is telling me to keep going straight.

Those signs don’t tell me how much farther I’ll need to go to get back to my original route, if that’s even where they’re going to take me. And when I drive too long in one direction without seeing another detour sign, I wonder if I missed it and should turn around. I don’t have any idea where I am and just drive on blind faith that I’ll eventually find my way. What other choice do I have?

And the whole time I’m following the detour, the GPS keeps bellowing out directives to get me back to my original course because it’s unaware that such a route no longer exists.

I spent a great deal of the summer thinking about what I want more of in my life and what I want less of. From that, I was setting priorities on how I would spend my time and making sure I created enough space for the things that really matter to me. I was also working on a financial plan to pay down my mortgage and put more money away for my retirement.

Then Luke put his face in a bur bush. This has meant four vet visits, eye surgery, many tubes of eye antibiotic ointment and Banamine (horsey aspirin), switching from pasture to stall board and daily trips to the barn.

It appears my route has changed — both financially and in how I spend my time.

fat tire biking on trail

My initial reaction was to say that all that work on naming my priorities and looking for ways to live according to my values was pointless.

  • I haven’t written for weeks and I’m not sure when I’ll find time to write again (although I did eek out time for this post).
  • And I’ve gone from working on skills for the job I’d hoped to move towards (which would mean lower pay but more job satisfaction) to working on skills to up my value in the job I’m already in because it looks like I’ll be there much longer than I’d planned.

After having an internal (and sometimes external) tantrum over what, in my tantruming mind, is “unfair,” I am searching for what can be salvaged. In other words, can I find the gift in this?

I know, being Pollyanna is not like me. I’d rather rant.

But this hasn’t been all bad.

The lesson is this: caring trumps expertise. I have a tendency to pull back and trust other people’s knowledge, experience, opinions, and actions over my own. I’m afraid to say what I think or what I want because, in my mind, I don’t have the right. Because everyone is smarter than I am.

And then, totally unrelated to this situation, I started taking a course in Negotiation because I have some things I need to negotiate at work. And I got something unexpected out of the lecture videos…

You need to identify the pie.

The pie is what you are splitting up with someone else. What do you want? What is at stake?

fat bike


I’ve never been very clear about what I want. I rarely believe I have the right to “want” anything.

  • Wanting is selfish.
  • Wanting is thinking I’m more important than someone else.
  • Wanting leads to someone saying “No.”

You repeat those messages enough and it becomes very difficult to even allow yourself to think about or recognize what you want.

And you know what? That is really annoying to the people around you. No one likes a martyr or being forced to guess what someone else wants.

I’ve had to say what I want done with my horse. Yes, that means paying for it but that’s better than letting other people decide what’s necessary. It also means taking more responsibility for the outcome because I have asked for what I want. If I end up not being happy with what I get, I can’t blame someone else for the results, like I can if they have to guess or make decisions for me.

I still don’t know where this detour is taking me. And I don’t know if my rambling is making any sense to anyone but me. But I’m not feeling as lost today as I was yesterday or the day before that.

I expect that I won’t come out on the exact road I had planned on taking, but I’m learning a new way to travel.

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