The Relatable Rider

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A few months ago, things were going well with riding my mare, Fire. I felt we were making progress, and everything wasn’t so very hard. I was able to add in some lateral work, and feeling pretty accomplished. And then a pile of dirt showed up outside the ring - even worse, it was outside the scary door of the ring. My mare does not like change (not sure where she gets that from!) and the appearance of this dirt pile proved to be no exception. It catapulted us into weeks and even months of struggle.

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A few weeks ago, I arrived at the barn, looking forward to a ride. But when I took my horse’s blanket off, I was shocked to see three lumps on her back, and even more shocked when I ran my hands over them and poor Fire just about jumped out of her skin. I knew immediately that I couldn’t ride, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the lumps were or how they got there. Were they bug bites? Irritation from the saddle? An allergic reaction to something? I didn’t know, so I gave her the day off, hoping that things would be better the next day.

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I have been trying to write a blog for over a week. But writing about anything other than COVID-19 right now feels just about impossible. Over the last few months we have all watched this pandemic progress across the world, and now at home in Canada. I am someone who suffers from a pretty high level of anxiety daily, yet initially, when this started to get more serious in our own backyard, I was oddly calm. I joked that I have been preparing for this my entire life. But that is not just a joke - I have. I am what some might call a worst-case-scenario person. Or as my therapist says, I catastrophize situations. Having a word to assign to the behaviour I have endured my entire life is incredibly helpful for me.

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In my last blog, (Struggle Bus), I talked about the challenges I was having with my mare, Fire. Looking back, I recall just how frustrated I was. I hate to admit it, but riding was becoming a chore, and I was no longer enjoying it. I pride myself on being a problem solver, not just with riding, but in general, and I was frustrated about not being able to fix whatever issues were plaguing my horse. I take my job as her caretaker very seriously, and all I want in the world, outside of any performance goals and aspirations, is for her to be happy.

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A situation, task, etc. that seems difficult or frustrating: With no sleep last night, I'll be on the struggle bus today.I have a confession to make. I am struggling. And in the interests of being open and honest, I am going to write all about it.

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There is a saying that you can’t pour from an empty cup. The idea is that if you take care of yourself first, you are better able to take care of those around you. It makes me think of the pre-flight announcements when we are reminded to put our oxygen mask on before helping anyone else. If you can’t breathe, you certainly aren’t going to be able to help anyone else. Yet here I am, feeling a little like I can’t breathe.

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Sometimes you get to the point where you can no longer accept “no” as an answer. Recently, that happened for me with my mare, Fire. There is a beautiful five-acre park behind our barn that we can ride through, and it’s a nice loop to cool out on. I have made it there a few times with the help of a horsey babysitter, but never managed to do the loop with Fire solo. So, on Saturday I decided I was going to try again.

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