Disappointments are a part of being an equestrian. Bleak, I know, but very true. Horses get sick, hurt, or even die. Or if they are perfectly healthy, perhaps they simply do not want to do what you want to do. Perhaps they end up being crazy. Or perhaps you have everything going for you horse-wise and you get hurt or sick. Maybe you struggle with nerves and low confidence, which can be crippling. Maybe you just don’t have the money for a horse, horse shows, or even lessons. All of these things are struggles that every serious equestrian could potentially deal with in his or her life. Disappointments and struggles are inevitable. But how we deal with them is what defines us as equestrians.
Believe me, I have had my fair share of disappointments in this sport. Horse injuries and behavioral issues. My own struggles with my confidence. I’ve been held back by my finances. The list goes on and on. Just over a week ago I was planning to go to a show and my horse sliced his face up. Did that disappoint me? Heck yes it did! But that’s horses, and life for that matter. Just because something does not work out the way I had planned, or the way I wanted it to, does not mean my life sucks and that I might as well give up on all my hopes and dreams. That sounds ridiculous, yes, but I have witnessed so many people having that attitude. I have had that attitude! Disappointments are a part of life. Looking past them, and staying positive, can make all the difference.
Horse injuries are setbacks that really get to a lot of people, even causing some to give up the sport. Horses rarely get injured when it’s convenient; like when you were already planning to take some time off. They usually do it mid show season, or sometimes even mid show. It can be very frustrating. But the thing is, many injuries will heal. Obviously there are some that will not, but there are often still options for horses with career ending injuries. Many horses that cannot jump anymore might be calm enough to be trail horses, or lesson horses. Also, many barns offer pasture board for retired horses that can be less expensive that stable board. It is a good idea to think about this when buying a horse because any horse can sustain a career ending injury. It is always important to have a plan B, and also to think about whether or not you could afford to get another horse if yours is badly injured. I also think it is so important to insure horses, even inexpensive horses, just in case the absolute worst happens.
I think the most important thing to do when facing disappointments is to look forward. Look forward to what you will do when your horse’s injury heals. Look forward to the next horse you will own if you have to get another one. Look forward to when you get your horse over a training hurdle. Just keep looking forward and moving forward. The one constant thing about life is change. Things will not be bad forever. Disappointments make us stronger, and they make the good times sweeter. I get such a thrill every time Chance jumps around a course well because there was a time when he would barely jump anything. I will never take a sound horse for granted because I have experienced a boat load of lameness issues with my horses. I will also never take having a horse for granted because there was a time when I could not have one of my own. I will never take my nerve for granted because I have lost it at times, and it is so hard to get back. Disappointments do not have to cause us to give up on the things we want. They just may require us to work a little harder, have a lot of patience, and to keep moving forward until one day we realize we are past them.