10 Days to go before Ben and I head off to our biggest show of the year, and I couldn't be more stressed. Well, maybe I COULD be, but I'm barely keeping it together with what I've got to handle right now.
There is nothing majorly wrong in my life - I'm just experiencing the typical stress of trying to fit it all in, and do it all well, and I'm failing, miserably. When I get like this I can see with a bit more clarity things that are preventing me from getting done what needs doing.
1. My commute sucks lately. I am clocking 3-4+ hours in the car, round trip, per day. Basically I leave at 6 am, and I'm home at 9-9:30 at night. So I give myself about 20-30 minutes before I have to go to bed and seriously be thinking about sleep.
2. It's been warmer out, and I just don't sleep well when it is warm.
3. The barn situation has me down and out a bit. Don't get me wrong, they get great care. However, a couple of things have been serious road blocks over the last few weeks. I don't really want to delve into them publicly, but basically, the place as great as it is to board, has been a bit harder to ride at. It just isn't being treated as an active riding facility (and primarily it is not a riding facility) - so I feel like I am climbing an uphill battle. There have been times I get to the barn and I can't ride for one reason or another. Some time it has been due to things that are clear safety and health issues, and other times it has been just some event (parties, farrier) in the way. My biggest frustration is that I'm already cramped for time, and the limited time I DO have to get things done up there, has been getting squeezed by things outside of my control.
4. One thing I will talk about is the lack of pasture turn out. It's not anyone's doing- just the fact of moving to a new place, but the timing couldn't be worse. My barn manager is trying to fix up the pastures, fencing, etc. Which means right now the horses cannot go out there. They have stalls w/ paddocks and also get time in the arenas/sand lots, but gone are the days that they are exercising themselves on the big hill. The big hillside, during the short month Ben was on it, was working wonders for him. It was that extra bit of conditioning he needed.And of course, right at the heart of show season, when I need him to be in tip-top shape, it gets taken away. Right at the time when I could use a little help in keeping him conditioned. Just bad timing. I completely understand the need to fix the pastures, and I appreciate the effort to do so. I just wish it didn't coincide when I needed it the most.
5. Trainer time-out. Of course, the other thing to have happened in July was taking a training break. All this time both of my horses have been in partial training...2 training rides plus 1 lesson a week. This has been great for me, especially on the days my schedule goes haywire. But show season is upon us, and my trainer was very upfront with her limited ability to drive down to ride. Again, totally natural...but totally a bummer.
6. Saddle fit. Saddles, oh saddles, how I both love and hate you. Fitter cannot come out to fix my custom saddle until later August, nor adjust the flocking in the Isabell- there is a tight spot that she can alleviate for Ben. Obviously there is no time to break it in and use it for my last 2 shows of the year. I hate it that I'm riding Ben in something that isnt quite right. And yet, I haven't found that magic bullet. I keep picking up used saddles as they come in from the local shops, and I feel as though I am getting closer..but we're not quite there yet.
7. Regular summer, non-horsey things that just get in the way and make life even more of a challenge. Happy hours, picnics, bbq's, dinners, etc. The list is a mile long, and I say "No" to most of it. But it makes me feel horrible inside. At some point I should actually pay attention to people outside my little equestrian world.
8. Horse #2. I've mentioned him here before. He's a young half-Arab, who was just started under saddle in February. He's flightly, very much a drama queen. He's terrified of our new indoor arena, and wash rack. Working with him is a major time-suck. And yet, I have to fit him in. Sure, I could let him be until next year...and then what? Next year I am kicking myself...why didn't I desensitize him before I needed to really focus on his under-saddle work? Why didn't I just put in the time he needs to gain his confidence? Ugh.
Normally I'd be cool about this stuff. Normally I am a very patient person, and just let things happen as they come, and deal with them accordingly. But not right now, not when I have a deadline to meet, and not when I am going to be publicly shamed. The biggest stressor is that in 11 days I am riding my first 2 dressage tests of the year in front of an S judge for the first time. I'm feeling VERY unprepared, and getting moreso by the day.
Why is this so stressful? My horse is young. 5, in fact. I was confident, given how well he had been doing, that we could put in a couple of decent dressage tests. But that is with all the conditioning and prepatory work to make it happen. He's *just* getting it, with a lot of outside help. And if he doesn't? Normally, I'd chalk it up to him being young, not being prepared. Which is all very true. My young horse needs to be prepared. But that is not what people will see. They have no idea what has happened over the last few weeks. What they will see is the bright white brand on his neck, shake their heads and whisper "ohh, its because he's a Standardbred."
NO NO NO. It is NOT because he is a Standardbred!
The negative person in me sees everything falling apart, and everything we've worked towards slipping away, right when it is most important that we be on our game. The fighter in me says "to heck with all this complaining, just work harder!" But I just can't find the time to actually work harder. The whiner in me says I may as well just forget doing all that I wanted to do at my 2 day show- I should just forget about the dressage test and focus on doing walk/trot open classes. I should just do what is easier, but it is likely now that he won't be conditioned enough to do much more than that anyway.
But I have to take all of that and just meet it head on. I still have 10 days. I've got to make the most of this 10 days. But I have some real obstacles coming up over the next week and a half, and I'm not entirely sure how to overcome them. I wish I could just explain to my non-horsey husband and work people all the work involved to make this show weekend happen. Its like signing up to run a marathon and not training the 10 days prior. So no, I can't stay late and I can't do happy hour. And I can't do dinner, either. Careers and relationships be damned. And the net result is that I'm sucking at everything, rather than being mostly good at most things.
Is it all really worth it? For what? To chase a few ribbons? To prove there was improvement? Do I need to do this to prove to myself that we're somewhat worthy? To prove that my horse is worthy of his legs, and worthy of being called a horse, and not some abomination of a breed called the Standardbed?
Why do I look back on these moments of pure stress and think "Wow that was fun, let's do it again!"