Excuses, excuses… it’s quite fashionable to write off genuine challenges as excuses, saying that ‘if you really wanted to do X you’d find a way’ – maybe, but sometimes it just can’t happen. The upshot? Disillusionment, negative thoughts, a self-energising spiral that either stays circling on the flat or descends into nothing.
Max moved homes at the end of November and found a very happy home where we could carry on with most of our winter work, except during the hard freeze before Christmas and the times I’ve found it increasingly difficult (or impossible) to get to the stables to work him.
Excuses? Maybe – that depends on your view. The answer? Making every session count, however infrequent; gearing the work towards maintenance of an older horse’s suppleness and way of going that means that when time allows his fitness can be brought into sharper focus as he’s still moving well.
Even so, it’s been hard (and some days impossible) to see the wisdom of keeping Max when he could be better served with another rider. Some ridden sessions have felt fine but no better – other times progress is visible. This past week has given me two opportunities to do what Max and I love to do best: jumping. And he’s still got it: the willingness, the energy, the love of picking his feet up off the ground- even in an unlovely shape once today…
Perhaps then, the time has been well spent even if it hasn’t been as plentiful as I’d have liked; perhaps I’ve been doing the right things after all. We’ve also been working on square halts and today, unprompted, Max produced some beautiful examples. Just in front of the dressage judge next time, eh? Also, he warmed up really well – long and low, just how you wish he’d do it every time instead of pointing his nose at the planes flying overhead…
It takes time – of course it does; horses take our time and teach us patience to give them more time so that they can reward us again and again for the time we give.
And the excuses? Call them that if you like, but that’s life, and how we respond to its challenges is what counts. Feeling more positive? Yes – and about time too.