Get Your Head in the Game

It's been a while since I've written a blog post. Some of that delay is due to embarrassment, some is due to the current COVID-19 reality, and the rest is due to the fact that I just haven't had much to say. But with the delay has come time to process, and since my previous post was such a huge, forthright Take-a-Stand declaration, I feel that it's finally time to share how it all turned out.

Short answer: Not well.

The longer answer is more complicated, and also more directly tied to our current situation, both as horsepeople and as people.

There are lots of reasons why the horse world never panned out for me, but the main tipping point between jobs that "worked out" and "didn't work out" for me always came down to my mental health.

I've never been what you would call a happy person. My default setting tends to be more down than up, and I also get pretty anxious in situations that wouldn't really phase other people. These are not great building blocks for a career full of high stakes, unpredictable animals, and Type-A personalities.

To be fair to myself, some of my jobs probably eventually would have worn anyone down, but others.... let's just say that I'm honest with myself to know that I lack some of the mental and emotional resilience needed to be in this industry as a professional of any kind. This is why once a horse gets my number, it tends to keep it. This is why turn-out/turn-in always fills me with a sense of trepidation (I hate hate leading two horses at a time, which is pretty much the norm for any barn that needs to keep things moving at a normal pace). This is why long days eventually wear me so thin that I feel like I'll snap.

I was hoping that with my current support system in place, these mental hurdles wouldn't play as big of a role as they did in the past. But it was clear that even after a few days, my mind (and my body, which was a surprising development for me) were not going to be able to handle the daily stress, the 2 hour long commute, and the unpredictable routine that inherently comes with horses. I could feel myself plummeting down into a dark place which I've had to claw out of in the past, and never want to revisit again.

To be clear, my decision had nothing to do with the environment or conditions at my place of employment, and everything to do with my own limitations. There's a very unique irony in having enough introspection to recognize your abilities and talents, and also your mental limitations, in achieving your dreams. It says to you, "Yes, you technically could do this, all other things being equal, but all other things are not equal for you."

In that spirit, this experience has made me come to terms with the fact that, for me, my dreams might still lie in achieving great things with horses, but my mental health will always be happiest and safest as an Adult Amateur. Maybe achieving fun things with horses instead will ultimately be just as rewarding.

Cal Pal and Me


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