Ah, what a year it’s been. Thanks to the pandemic, I have been working from home since the early part of March. I go into my office 1-2 times a week for a few hours to print and mail my investigation letters but other than that, I’m stuck at home. Working from home was a hard adjustment for me but after the first 3 months, I got into a groove and honestly prefer being at home. But because of COVID, my vacation plans were scrapped as were any plans for day trips – I’m left with a lot of vacation days. So, I was able to take off every Friday for the rest of the year, plus a few extra days after Christmas. The rest will get rolled over for next year – hopefully the new normal will be a distant memory. So of course, my Friday’s are spent with Alfie.
Being at the barn on a Friday is much different than the weekends. It’s quiet. Like actually quiet. Because of the nasty rainy weather today, Alfie and his friends were turned out in the indoor arena so he was nice and dry when I got there. He was however, a big ball of mud lol. After I made him his lunch, I got to brushing my very dirty boy.
The quiet. I can’t get over how much different Alfie is when it’s peaceful at the barn. There were lessons going on, and the grain delivery had to be put away, but the general vibe was so different than the weekend. As I was brushing him, I had the soundtrack to Hamilton playing on my phone, I couldn’t help but sing to him. After I was done, I like to share space with Alfie. So I stood outside his stall with my back to him and just stood there. The next thing I know, he’s got his head on my shoulder.
Then he starts breathing in my ear…
It’s these moments spent with him, that truly make my heart explode with love. Alfie always has his guard up – he’s never one to just outwardly show affection. It’s been a long time since he’s shown me this kind of love.
Ok, the hallmark movie is over, now it’s time to get into the nitty gritty. While I was enjoying my time with Alfie, I found out that one of my trainers new students is cantering. This is not the first time that someone brand new to riding has passed my abilities, but the feeling of defeat came over me so fast. It’s nothing personal against the student, I think she is an incredibly lovely woman, but there’s that horrible feeling of defeat, creeping it’s ugly head into my brain. I know what follows the defeat, it’s the “I suck” mentality. That is followed by – what is wrong with me, why can’t I be the leader of the pack…yeah, as you can tell, I’ve been on this merry go round before.
All of these negative feelings about myself flood my brain, flood my heart and in an instant, literally an instant, all I want to do is sit in a corner and cry. Of course I don’t, but that’s what this feels like. I know all of my fellow riders have been there before whether you want to admit it or not, you know where I’m coming from.
I know, you are at the edge of your seat with suspense, what did Judy do to get rid of those negative feelings, did she look at Alfie, the horse she saved, did she nervously look at her phone trying to google how to stop a meltdown – well, if you guessed look at Alfie, you are correct. I gazed into his eyes and as if he knew in that fleeting moment I needed his assurances, suddenly those negative thoughts stopped. They were there but I didn’t allow them to consume my brain or heart anymore. I reminded myself of my mantra – slow and steady wins the race. This is what has worked for me my entire life. When I try to rush something, anything, it backfires on me. Accepting who you are and that who you are is good enough is hard to do, especially in the horse world where people’s abilities move and grow at different paces.
This is something that I’ve struggled with since I started riding 5 years ago. People just starting out, and passing me on abilities – it’s like the kid in school who was good at all the subjects while you struggled just to keep up. The feelings are the same. Of course I have absolutely nothing but excitement for my fellow student and I’m truly happy they are progressing so well and am impressed they are growing in abilities so quickly. But trying not to compare myself to them, it’s hard. Being totally honest here, it really is hard.
This moment will pass, they always do. The pity party is long gone, and I am very proud of myself for all that I’ve learned and accomplished, at my own speed, in my own time. I look forward to the day when I finally am able to have someone “skip levels” and not have any of the negatives invade my brain and my heart. ❤️🐴