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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Breaking news!

On February 1, Farley will be moving into a different barn.

Life is a series of major transitions.

My last major transition was graduating from UC Davis. Life conspired to throw a million different things at me at once (of course!) and I had my first (and only to date) panic attack during this time.

I learned an important lesson.

There is a limit to the amount of stress that can be handled, even over the short term. Stress isn’t healthy and it will demand its payment physically and emotionally.

I’ve mentioned to several of you that I haven’t enjoyed riding in the last couple of months. Even non-riding activities that I used to enjoy, like trimming feet, have fallen by the wayside. Lately, Farley has become another chore and another thing that I “should be doing”, instead of something that I look forward to all day. It’s unlike me to be so ambivalent towards my 100 mile ride in 3 ½ weeks. Yes, I want to go – but the excitement is gone and if truth be told – I’m going more out of desperation that I’ll be able to find “it” again – the pleasure that I felt at this time last year – and to see my friends than for the actual ride. I find myself wanting to make excuses for cancelling lessons (even though I still go and don’t use the excuses), and although I enjoy the lessons once I’m there - I’m struggling. I find myself going and trying because I want to make my trainer happy, instead of doing them for myself. Riding, so long my stress-managing tool, has slowly become a stressor unto itself.

As I (not so patiently) wait for word on my vet school interview and other million things that are happening this year, it has become obvious that I MUST reduce the total amount of stress I'm having to deal with.

It occurred to me on Monday that what I am paying in board, added to the cost of buying my own hay, was roughly equal to the cost of boarding at my trainer’s – which is full care. This is opposed to what I am doing, which is essentially self-care.

I didn’t realize how much unacknowledged stress was associated with how I was boarding Farley until I made the decision to move her. It doesn’t matter how well I was managing the stress or the winter-SAD stuff if the actual AMOUNT of stress is extremely high. You can only “manage away” a certain proportion. At some point you have to ELIMINATE stress instead of merely managing it.

I love having total control over the care and management of my horse, but I will get my chance again this summer for the next 4-5 years. In the meantime, not having to buy feed, feed hay, clean pens, worry about turn out, hook up the trailer 2x/week for lessons (and having to leave work early and thus trying to work split shifts), and feed supplements (only happens the 4-5 days/week I’m at the stable) is a huge relief. Not to mention access to arena with good footing year-round, not having to worry about security, and the knowledge that even on the days I can’t be there, Farley will be turned out, watched carefully and will get her supplements.

There are tradeoffs to moving Farley – it will cost a bit more, I will have less space for horse stuff (which is why lots of stuff will go up for sale and I AM open to offers – especially if you are buying more than one thing), and I will lose control over how/what/when things are done. But it is worth every single sacrifice right now – and none of these tradeoffs will create more stress than my current situation. All I care about right now is riding Farley and enjoying it and boarding her at the new barn will make that possible. And hopefully – riding will once again be enjoyable and a way to forget my troubles – at least for that short period of time I’m in the saddle.


  1. I think that even though you think it is going to be hard to let go of her schedule you are going to be okay. When I was in grad school I worked at every barn I boarded Gen at. That meant that he was mine all mine to take care of 6 days a week. I thought I would have a hard time going back to a normal boarding situation, but let me tell you, it really was pretty easy. Once you hit the "I can't do this anymore" point it is a lot easier to over look the small stuff that piss off normal boarders. I went through the same thing as you did about not wanting to ride. Worse was the fact that I don't have a horse to ride more than one day a week so I could really avoid it. Just like you I had fun every lesson, but it was so easy to do something else instead of riding. I feel like I am snapping out of it so hopefully the change of scenery will make you feel better as well. I miss the Mel who does 10 posts a week!

  2. I moved barn about 3 months ago. I had not realized how much stress this the old barn was putting on me until I made the move. We were basically a coop and whenever I was riding I was feeling guilty that I was not in there helping everyone get things done. So then the ride became uncomfortable and guilt ridden. I moved barns, I pay more. But if I have to work late, then I do it. If I want to ride and not clean stalls, well then I want to do that too. Also my trainer comes to me.

    Release stress where you can. You can find your joy.

    I will be waiting for the sales list.

  3. I've done self-care, home-care, and full board. Each was satisfying in different ways; when I was boarding, I really loved being able to leave town for a few days without having to cash in favors with friends and neighbors to get animals fed. When I was self-care, I could make sure that the skinny little pony at the end of the barn got food even when her owner didn't show up (I worked weird hours, nobody checked up on me!). At home, I love visiting my horse in the middle of the night if I want.

    It's all good.

    And selling = us buying? I love that.

  4. Glad you found a new place. Good luck. I hope everything goes smoothly.


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