Sunday, October 30, 2011


Sometimes things get a bit bassackwards around here...
I have control issues.  Lots of 'em.  If you've read this blog on a regular basis, or even once or twice, you're probably sitting in your chair thinking, "Uh, DUH, Amy. No earthshaking revelation there!" 

Anyway...years of therapy, scads of self help books and hours of introspection later and I can occasionally surrender my need for control and attempt to roll with the punches of life.  As my father has said on more than one occasion, "The boat of life has a tendency to go tits up.  Better be ready to grab a life preserver and start swimming." Frank is a font of pithy idiomatic statements like that.  I shoulda saved all that money I spent on therapy and those silly books and just listened to Frank.

Anyway, on to today's topic....Nothing serious, just by this point in the year I'd hoped to be confirmed at 3'3" and winding down my show season with a few 1.0m classes.  I'd also hoped to have improved my riding by improving my general fitness level.  Instead, as a result of (thankfully minor) injuries sustained during a fall, work insanity, family commitments and other unforeseen incidents such as Dad's recent minor heart attack, I'm stuck at 3', saddle time has been limited at best and restricted to flatwork. Workout time hasn't fared much better.

Given what other people face in their lives, this is NOTHING.  I get that. About 5 minutes into my ridiculous pity-party I put a quick halt to the festivities with a very stern self-administered Come to Jesus session. Really, Amy?? You have a healthy family, a roof over your head, a job, and you're complaining about WHAT, exactly???  Really??  Silly cow, get over yourself. 

The thing is, the riding is what helps me deal with the fact that the rest of life is so out of my control.  So when the riding thing gets wonky, I get a little goofy.  Hence the self-talk, where I breathe in and out and tell myself, "Life can't be controlled.  The only thing that CAN be controlled is how I react to what happens."  You can make a plan to get to where you want to be, work the  plan as best as possible and, when things don't go according to plan, you need to be able to pull your big girl pants on, deal with the disappointment, and come up with Plan B.  Or, as my Dad says, grab one's life preserver and get swimming.

One sees that in horses as well as life.  How many times has your trainer given you a plan, and you enter the ring with every intention of riding that plan, but for whatever reason things go cattywumpus. You can either react positively and readjust to riding plan B, or you can go to Control Freak Default Setting and micromanage and nitpick the situation until either the horse stops in confusion or something worse happens.   Do you "just ride, dammit" or do you panic and go fetal because your need to control the situation has been surpassed by your ability to control it.  Again, you can't control the situation, only how you react to it.  (Can you tell I'm hoping that the more I write that, the better I'll get at it?)

So what do you do when your life has, for the moment, gone a bit sideways and your #1 stress reliever is no longer as much of an option?  What's your Plan B? (Hint: Imbibing copious amounts of your favorite adult beverage and freebasing Oreos may NOT be an advisable option. Just saying...)

What's wrong with this picture?
For me, at the moment Plan B looks like doing what I can for Dad and what I need to do for work (after all, the job is what pays for Princess Sugar Britches' Jimmy Choos). It looks like accepting that the horse thing will have to happen in a different way than I am used to for a while. When I can get to the barn, we'll work on our flatwork, which is always a good thing. When I'm unable to get out there, I'll need to rely on my trainer and friends to keep her in work.  In the meantime, I can use my new subscription to to fill in some of the gaps in my learning.

As for the fitness thing?  Certainly Dad's recent heart attack demonstrates the importance of diet and exercise in overall health.  So what if I'll be doing more walking and yoga than running and weightlifting, and it'll take longer to reach the fitness goal I had for my riding.  I keep telling myself, it's all about the journey, right??

My Nana had a saying she'd trot out anytime life got crazy.  She'd say, "This, too, shall pass."  Back then I would ask, "When?? When will it pass?  How can I make it pass faster?"  Nowadays, my Inner Control Freak still wants to ask that, and to try to figure out 80 different ways to make it pass more quickly.  However, now I've gotten a little better at telling that Inner Control Freak to hush for a moment. Now I can sometimes tell it to just let me sit with the situation, figure out what I'm supposed to be learning from it, and then grab my life preserver and figure out where to swim to.

What can I say?  I'm a work in progress.  It's slow going, but it's progress none the less.


  1. Sometimes just being is enough. Sometimes just breathing is a gift, and having a few moments to breathe slowly is a treasure. So glad your dad's heart attack was minor, and that you are able to assist him.
    I remind myself all the time of what I used to tell my son when things got hairy on the field: "Guess what you get to do today? Play Baseball!!" So guess what you get to do this week? RIDE a Horse, your very own Horse!!! Wowser!! (that is what I tell myself to remind me of what a gift it is to have a horse, and that she carries me around on her back!!)


  2. It looks like the horse is backwards in those photos. How can you train it not to do that? Amy, your Dad sounds like a neat guy. I hope he's doing okay.

  3. I just found your blog today via the horse carnival. You are an excellent writer and I think have elegantly summed up why most of us need to have our barn time and what happens to the rest of our daily lives when we don't get it. Also, your Dad sounds like a great character! I love the life preserver saying. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.
    Adventures In Colt Starting