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Monday, March 21, 2011

Pasture of regrets

Today is the FIRST official day that I could be notified of vet school. They (meaning the admissions committee) do not always follow their rules, and last years class was notified early, hence the slightly maniac Melinda on Friday…..but no word on Friday, so we (meaning the applicants) have settled in for the long haul.

TODAY could be the day. Of course, the DAY could be any of the next TEN days, but still – TODAY could be the day.

I’m about to start putting a moratorium on e-mail messages – how DARE there be new messages in my inbox on a regular basis that do NOT start: You have been accepted. Do you know how my heart jumps when I see a new message?

Back to focusing on…something besides school. And e-mail. And SDN boards.

For today’s topic, it is a rather dreary topic. Just warnin’ you. First, read this:

I think that endurance has graveyeards. I think, with very few exceptions, that you aren’t a “real” endurance rider until you’ve made a mistake that results in injury, or at least ultimately a shorter career, for an endurance horse. I think if you talk to endurance riders who have many many years and miles in the sport, MOST of them will have a story of a horse that they have regrets associated with. An injury they missed. A horse that was pushed too hard. And until that happens, I’m not sure that a person can really understand the implications of the sport for their horse, the risks associated, and why welfare is paramount.

I think it’s rare that a person can really empathize with a situation they haven’t personally experienced. I know that I will try and comfort people in the midst of something hard, and later, when it happens to me I think – “WOW! THIS is what it feels like!”.

It’s true that sometimes, “things happen”. But even when the injury or mishap isn’t fully the riders “fault”, I think in every situation (less a very very few) there is a kernel of rider mistake.

I *thought* I understood what putting the welfare of my horse first meant and felt like. Until my horse got injured. Then I knew. Really REALLY REALLY knew. And each time I make a mistake – even a minor one – that ends up with consequences such as a pull, or as innocuous as a “look” in the eye after a ride I don’t like, it reinforces the concept on an emotional level that is very hard to duplicate without the “real world” experience.

I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I’ve tried to learn through others mistakes without making the same, and in some cases I’ve made the mistake and have had to live it. Without a doubt, the mistakes I’ve lived are part of my heart. The mistakes I’ve watched live in my head. Both are motivating, but only one lives in my emotional conscious.

May you never make a mistake with a horse that you regret. But it’s not easy, and odds are eventually you will. In the meantime, try to recognize that before you ARE on this side of the fence (ie having to live with a mistake), that it is EXTREMELY difficult to predict what you will feel or think once you are here. I can remember being sympathetic but judging other riders in my mind (if only they had….it could have been prevented if…) as they dealt with lameness or other troubles. I thought I understood what it would feel like because I have an imagination, and I loved my horse. Not so much….

What do you think? Do you have a “pasture” of regrets that guide your endurance/horse choices today?

I think beating yourself up regulary because of regrets and guilt isn't healthy, but I also no that having regrets makes it easier for me to choose to do the right thing in the future.


  1. Not related to the endurance part of the post, but to the school part. AHHHH! Davis is teasing us both with admission decisions! I have my portal up almost 24/7 constantly refreshing it.

  2. LOL. We already talked in the e-mail, but I'll say it again - good luck!

    BTW - talked to an eventer yesterday and she said something similiar in eventing - that you will ruin 1-2 horses getting to a certain level when you are starting out. Not real familiar with the different levels so can't relay exactly what she said. I'm by NO means condoning the practice or saying it's OK, I'm just saying it's something that needs to be addressed and it's interesting to think about and consider when thinking about the implications of horse sports and animal sports in general.


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