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Sunday, 22 September 2013

Dissapointment is Inevitable ... Misery is Optional.

Well I am ashamed to admit that I did not intend for almost 4 months to by between blog entries.  I was chock full of good ideas, blog-fodder and grand intentions.  Then something happened ... LIFE.

Its been a wild season for our little group here at Stride Equine!  We've seen some major disappointments and heartbreak, some wonderful victories and we've learned a whole lot about who we are and what is important to us, both inside the riding arena and outside.

My next few entries will no doubt go into much more detail about some of our recent challenges and adventures and some wonderful anecdotes that our amazing four-legged friends and their two legged pets have taught us! I`m also very excited to share with you some of the training tricks and fun ideas we`ll be trying now that we`re into the fall and the off season (at least for those in the competitive crowd!).

Today I would like to speak a bit more to the philosophical in the crowd.  I have done a great deal of pondering on all of the events of this past year so far.  Our team gained a few new members.  We also lost a few as well. Some simply moved on to different earthly pastures.  Some moved on to a more eternal place of rolling trails and still waters. 

I know its hard to believe but working with horses is not all sunshine and roses.  Heck, I don't think it matters if you work with horses, people, computers, microorganisms or oil rigs.  Life doesn't always turn out how we think it will. Sometimes its minor.  We go out for a nice ride.  We had a hard day.  We just want to see our best bud and feel the breeze through our hair as we trot blissfully away from all our troubles.  Unfortunately, it always seems when we want this the most, our equine counterpart wants something entirely different. You know, like, to stay with the herd instead of being caught.  To spook at every single grain of dirt that has been displaced since the last 800 times they`ve been in that arena.  Or maybe they`re just plain lazy or stubborn that day.  Whatever the case, we all know the crushing blow it is when our expectation of a wonderful horse encounter turns into a schooling session, a lesson to be delivered or sometimes a downright fight. 

For the competitive in the crowd, its often that one class.  "Okay Bronco ... I just need you to do everything perfect for this one class.  I will certainly not be making ANY mistakes so I expect that you will be on your best behavior and act just as perfect as you always are at home". 

Okay, so I'm being slightly facetious, but you may be catching my drift.  It's generally at this point that ole' Bronco makes a strong stand for free will and boundary breaking.  It's at this point we generally blame Bronco (for being a dolt), our trainer (for not fixing Bronco), our head cold (for slowing us down), our boss (for making us miss that last lesson) and our Great Aunt Sally (for the time she told me when I was 8 that horses are no good and mean, and showing horses was a big waste of good money). Why is it that when we need it the worst (whatever it is), it seems to elude us.

I`ve grown to believe that this is just life.  This isn't a bitter cynicism.  It`s a reality.  Life is NEVER what we expect.  Our horses are not machines (not that machines are always that reliable either!).  We cannot predict how everything is always going to play out.  Sometimes they have a bad day.  Sometimes WE have a bad day. Sometimes we just really want something to work out a certain way and it doesn't.  I guarantee I am not the first one to point out that there is a whole lot of NOTHING we can do about all of this. 


This is where the title of today's blog becomes really important.  And not so much the first part.

We all know that we can't always get our way in life.  We know it in our head, but our heart doesn't always believe it.  That's sucks sometimes, and I know first hand.  My husband Brendan and I have been trying for over a year to buy a farm or acreage where I can board a few horses, train, teach some lessons and work from home.  We had the down payment, we had a more than adequate pre-approval, and now we also have 4 offers that have fallen through as the banks run scared from agricultural purchases.  It's been a case of one heartbreak after another, and each new attempt to acquire a property leaves us more tentative in our excitement and enthusiasm. 

In the midst of all this, our team lost one of our dearest members.  Even worse, my longest client and dear friend lost her dad.  It was fast.  It was awful.  It was totally unfair.  I`m pretty sure I still haven't really processed it. 

All of this has tempted me to sit down, cry and hole away .... in MISERY.  But life, family, love and the good Lord have come through once again, and at the exact right moment I heard this phrase ...

"Disappointment is inevitable, but misery is OPTIONAL."

I swallowed this one like a horse pill.  It goes down hard.  It feels kind of icky.  But something deep down inside me knows it's right.  Feeling disappointed is normal.  Feeling sad, depressed, upset and angry are also normal, and generally out of our control.  Acting miserable though, is our choice. Lashing out, complaining, whining, and being generally ungrateful and unpleasant is TOTALLY our choice.

We are not responsible for how we feel, but we are responsible for how we act.  This applies to our riding and to our larger life in general.  Our horses can make us feel joyful and overwhelmingly happy.  They can also terrify us and leave us feeling angry, confused and disappointed.  We have to learn how to process these emotions without becoming totally miserable.  We have to learn to smile, laugh and occasionally "fake it 'till we make it"!

Life is so much better when we don't let it steal our joy.  The friend and client I mentioned earlier has been the best example of this.  Her dad was her best friend.  They were closer than any father and daughter I've ever known and I know why .... He was one of the most fantastic guys around.  I honestly worried that she might not make it when he got sick.  When he passed away I was sure she would be crushed and maybe crumble.   We had plans to take his horse to Canadian Nationals and he was planning to be there in the stands cheering us on.  In no way did I expect my friend to show up at that show, only 7 short weeks after the funeral. 

She came.

Not only did she show up, she chatted, she smiled, she hung out with the team.  She laughed and she celebrated and she got to hold the trophy when her Dad's horse won his first National Championship.  She was truly inspirational.  It certainly inspired me to keep a smile on my face.  If she can do it (no doubt feeling terribly sad and torn), I thought, how can I not?

How we "are" is a choice.  If our horse is a brat, we can feel mad, but we don't have to act mad.  When we lose a class, we can feel disappointed, but we don't have to act melancholy and depressed.  When life gives us lemons, we can make lemonade.  Happily.  With a smile.  As though we meant to make lemonade all along and life just helped us out by providing the main ingredient.

Brendan and I made a commitment a few weeks back not to lose hope.  We decided we would enjoy where we're at now, until we're on to something new.  We decided that we've seen some disappointment but we're not going to let it stifle our enthusiasm or drive us into misery. We made the pact to stay invested in our dreams and forge ahead boldly. 

It was right after this that our renewed and reinvigorated search brought us to an amazing and "dream worthy" property, in a better location than we could have ever imagined. 

And guess what?  We just found out it's now going to be ours. 

Sure glad I didn't let misery win.  In the future I'll be much quicker to get my joy back.  I wouldn't want to miss any more blessings like this.