by Laura Crum
Lately I have had conversations with women, both on the internet and in real life, who are sad because they no longer have a passion to pursue their activity of choice, be it horses or aikido or writing or what have you. The reasons vary—some women have gone through a traumatic event and just never could get back into their former activity, sometimes due to fear, sometimes due to depression and grief. Others have had life changes that forced them to work hard at full time jobs and they are just too tired to put much energy or emotion into the pursuit that they used to love. Still others have recently had a baby and discovered, just as I discovered myself, that it is very hard to pursue a sport/activity while raising a nursing child, especially if one also has a job. Others have health issues that make it impossible for them to ride (or train) the way they used to. Whatever the reason, the prevalent emotion is often sadness and a feeling of letdown, sometimes frustration, often guilt. So today I thought I’d talk about this.
I have been through these ebbing periods in my life with horses—several times, for different reasons. And I find myself, this fall, once again in this place. Unlike other times, when I was younger, and felt somewhat aghast, this time it feels natural. I don’t have resistance, more like acceptance. Because after six years of pretty much non-stop trail riding with my son, this lovely autumn we’re not drawn to head out on the horses.
The reason? I dunno, to be honest. My son is thirteen and has other interests. My own desire to explore our local trails has sort of run its course. I rode (and mapped) every trail that we could access from our home; rode the main loops hundreds of times over a six year period. During this time houses were built and the access to some of these trails was closed—which was somewhat discouraging. But some of the loops are still open. The last time I rode our “usual” loop to the Lookout was this summer and I found myself with a slight “been there done that” emotion. I haven’t been back up on the ridge since then.
Our horses are all getting older. Lately we have been exercising Sunny and Henry lightly in the riding ring here at home a couple of days a week. I’m riding Sunny bareback—just for fun and because I strained a muscle in my shoulder and lifting the heavy roping saddle onto the horse hurts. So I piddle around on my little gold horse, and my son helps his twenty-five year old Henry to stretch his legs…and that’s it. It feels good to be horseback in the fall sunshine. And yet both of us are not currently drawn to do more with our horses.
The thing is, this isn’t a problem. It is only a problem if I think we “ought” to do more. And there is no ought. Maybe because I’m older and I’ve been through these cycles before, I can readily accept the fact that I’m not motivated to ride much right now. I still love my horses; my heart lifts every day as I walk down the hill to feed and see them watching me with pricked ears and eager neighs. There is no part of me that doesn’t want them in my life. Right now my oldest horse, Gunner, is going through a rough patch, and my big priority in my “horse time” is being with Gunner, letting him out to graze and just rubbing on him and telling him how much I love him. This is what I’m currently drawn to do—and I’m OK with that.
So, for me, these “ebb” periods in my life with horses are both natural and not an issue. I may return to a more vigorous horse life…and I may not. Either way is OK. I’m pretty sure that my son and I will see a few more views like this between the ears.
But at the moment, this is what we are doing on this same lovely beach (my son catching a wave on his boogie board).
Both are good.
And hanging out in the barnyard with Gunner is good, too.
Right now I’m planning to build a garden pool. I’ve got a few writing projects on tap. I’m enjoying my bareback “pony rides” on Sunny. My son is engaging in new activities and I think that’s good. I’m accepting that my riding life is in an “ebb” period. And so, for me, this is not sad or frustrating or guilt creating. It just is.