Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Final Epiphany

The next morning there was a rider working on "the creeper."

It's moment like that, when Mark gives advice that is so simple, its hard not to feel like a doofus for not figuring it out yourself. Like when you mom shows you how to keep the plastic in the dishwasher from getting flipped over and filled with water.

"You have to set boundaries and stick with them," he said, walking her though boundry setting.

In reality we are the creeper, aren't we. We let things creep by us until before you know it things aren't working out the way you planned.

We rode in the arena after the clinic. Smokey and I worked in the round pen - the night's festivities, and unusual confinement resulted in one wired pony - and he was better. Good enough for me to try the canter, a sustained one. With a soft back.

And it worked.

We packed up and headed to the campsite. I felt good, I'd accomplished a little and learned a lot. But it would all change in 24 hours.

Nails Creek state park is a fantastic equestrian facility. The pens for horses are amazing, and we settled in for the night in the dark due to our late departure from the arena. I knew I was dragging my feet. Everything was so wonderful. I cooked dinner, my special goulash, and played my bass uke (like a four string mini guitar) and laughed and enjoyed the night.

I didn't want the morning to come.

This next part is too hard to write, even now, weeks later. It's why its taken me so long to write this entire series, why I have avoided writing it because I didn't want to admit my failing, not here.

It's why it's been weeks before I could talk about this, let alone share it here.

But I'm not one to crow about my accomplishments and duck my failings. Especially this one. Because I'm not really ashamed of this moment, this step on the journey. Because it's honest. I'd only be ashamed if I avoided the truth of it, if I didn't own it.

But I'm not going to make it long. Honest is one thing, but it's still not easy to talk about.

The next morning we saddled up to ride. Smokey was up and I was sick to my stomach. I couldn't bring my self to get on him, so I led the trainer's horse while she rode Smokey to a point where he was more settled.

And I still didn't want to get on him. At that moment, that low, low moment when she was urging me to get on I shouted "Look, Smokey isn't my trail horse. Lily is my trail horse."

Lily is my trail horse.

This horse, my dear Smokey, who I had ridden in the mountains, taken to rides at Storm Ranch, this was not the horse I wanted to ride on trails. I wanted to ride Lily. My highly trained, finished horse, who I can galllop with a halter and stop on a dime.

As I walked back to camp I thought about this.

During the drive back I thought some more.

Over the last three months my daughter's illness has reset my world. I've had to face realities.

I don't have time to train this horse. And with the medical bills I won't have the funds to provide him a trainer.
I don't have the energy to get through these issues. Nor the time and support system to get there.
I don't have the time to condition this horse for long trail rides and to do endurance as was my dream when I bought him.
I've been over horsed, but wanted to overcome it. But right now that's not where my world is. My world demands something different, demands I focus on overcoming something altogether different.

I am holding him back because I don't have it in me to deal with everything in my life - with a demanding 60 hour a week job, a chaotic family life, and health issues - especially because no one else is riding.

And I'm holding me back. I don't go on trail rides with friends because I need to get through this with him - yet I don't ride the horse I can ride anywhere. My finished horse is lossing muscle tone because no one is riding her, and yet my young horse is riding the same 10 acres over and over, getting a decent handle but good and stuck.

Right now, with the stress of my life, I need to face facts. I will do more and learn more and enjoy more if I accept the gift of Lily and pass on the gift of Smokey.

This Sunday Smokey will go to a wonderful home with an amazing woman I met who has been looking for this horse. I've done well by him. I've helped him become responsive, kept him sensitive, taught him enough basics to be a wonderful companion.

Now someone else will take him the rest of the way.

I'm lucky. I've found him a wonderful home and I can now give Lily the attention and adventures she wants, and if she's in better shape she will have a better chance of staying sound.

Because I love Smokey I'm letting him go. Because I love myself, I'm giving myself a really wonderful horse. Lily. She'll teach me a ton, and I'll become a better horseman with her as my partner. And because my family needs me more than ever, I'm reducing my time away because Lily needs less of me, but is there for me at the same time.

Smokey's new partner and I will stay in touch, even ride together. I've set up a trial period, established that I will provide him a home in the future if he ever needs one. But I'm confident that won't happen. When I saw her ride, and saw him respond, my heart softened and I had my final epiphany.

This is love, my heart said. When you let them fly. Even if it's not with you.

Even when it breaks your heart.


Allenspark Lodge said...

We're gunna miss you, Smokes.

Ride on.


Mikey said...

I'm so sorry. I know exactly how you feel right now. It's great to send them on to do better things, but it's hard to realize you've gone as far as you can go with a horse. Having just sold Quinn for much the same reasons, I sympathize. But it's the right thing to do. Your life isn't in the same place it once was, and it's the right thing to do by your horse. Doesn't make it any easier though... Sending a hug your way and hoping time eases all.

Kate said...

Powerful post - and a hard one to face, as you say. It's delightful that you found him such a good home so quickly - that must be quite a relief.

I have some decisions to consider myself, perhaps - but I don't know yet and will have to let things develop.

Can't wait to hear about your travels on the trail with your good mare!

Maia said...

I had a hunch this was coming and I don't want you to beat yourself up about it. You did the right thing, even though it was impossibly hard. Sending you hugs from the east coast.

PS: Saddle up your mare and have a wonderful time.

jill said...

*HUG*!! You are incredibly brave and unselfish.
By spreading yourself thin between all the things you have going on, you were losing you. I think your ephinany was knowing you needed something for you at this time. You must be so stressed and worried about everything. Your horse time should be relaxing, enjoyable and something you look forward to...for yourself.
And you've done something wonderful for Smokey. Now, be good to yourself when you can and enjoy that stellar Lily of yours!
I think your are incrediably brave and unselfish. (did I already say that?) ;-)

shadowlake2005 said...

What a wonderful post. You have struggled through to the right thing and had the wisdom and courage to follow it through and do it. I am so looking forward to the rest of your journey and I think it will help me on mine, so thank you, thank you.

Laura Crum said...

I think you're making the right choice. I've chosen only to ride older, solid horses at this point in my life, and I am so grateful for the enjoyment and absence of anxiety that has resulted. Not to mention the greater freedom. I also think its a good choice for Smokey. Have fun with Lily.

Fetlock said...

I know it probably sounds bad to say I'm happy for you, but I am. Making these decisions is like a trip through a meat grinder. I'm happy you're on the other side of the grinder now.

We work so hard to be fair with our horses that sometimes we forget to be fair to ourselves. Smokey's a good boy. If he had a way of comprehending what anguish you've been through on his behalf (on top of your other mountain of worries), he would have suggested this very same thing.

Spring is coming. Lily's waiting for you.

Susan said...

Who knows what the future will bring. All you can do is make the right choices in the present.

Good luck to Smokey and his new owner.

Shirley said...

Letting go isn't easy, and it isn't a failure. You know you did the right thing, and your family and Lily will benefit from this, especially since it will bring you more peace of mind.
Blessings to you!

Dan and Betty Cooksey said...

Well done. Dan

Grey Horse Matters said...

This was a hard decision for you and I'm sorry you had to let Smokey go. At the same time I do think it was the best decision for the both of you. He will have a wonderful home and you will have peace of mind. There are so many things going on in your life right now you don't need more stress. Lily will provide you with a safe comfortable state of mind and I'll bet you two will have lots of relaxing fun times this year. It's nice you'll get to see Smokey and his new person and even ride with them. I'm happy for all of you.

Funder said...

A hard decision, but a wise one for you right now. Hugs!

Landers said...

Tough decisions and heavy hearts. I'll be thinking of you. You made a brave decision, and found him a good home. Head up girl. x

the7msn said...

You've done right by him, and yourself. Yeah, so why does it still sting so much? Hang in there.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

I think the fact that you found Smokey a good home so quickly is a sign that you were on the right track.

Sometimes doing the right thing doesn't exactly feel good, at least not right away... but it will. Hugs.

achieve1dream said...

Riding is supposed to be fun and trying to ride Smokey on the trail wasn't fun for either of you so I also think you made the right decision. I'm crying for your loss, but happy for the time you gain with Lily and your family and happy for the peace I'm sure this will bring you when the pain of it passes. I'm happy you found him such a great home where you'll still get to see him. Hugs!