A Garden for Horses

I have been so insanely busy lately, my life has become a true juggling act. Every year (every day, even) I think, This is my max. I cannot possibly cram more in than I have right now. And I can't. Despite my desire to stop adding to the list so I can concentrate on the mess I have, life doesn't work that way. New things come into my life every month, week, and day.

I got a book last year called 'The Art of Stopping Time'. It's 100 days of 'gong'. A gong is not only fun to say, but is a Chinese idea for a piece of time dedicated to yourself. The first day talks about your life garden. Every aspect of my life was a plant and my energy was its nourishment. As a watering can is not infinite, neither is my energy. Some of the plants are non negotiables: Sara, my family, work. But I have many other plants I want to take care of, one of which being horses.

Horses have been my refuge as long as I can remember. I moved around a lot when I was younger, I didn't have a ton of friends, I got bullied in school. But the horses were always there for me and I leaned on them heavily. They got me through some real shit, like horses do. By the time I got Runkle I didn't realize how big that plant had gotten in my garden, but that it was also ugly.

I put so much pressure on myself to ride a certain amount of times a week, compete, take so many lessons a month. His behavior was a huge influence on my mood. When things weren't going well with him, I felt like I had nothing. Every time he got hurt, or we suffered another setback, it was nights of tears and grief. Can I do this? Am I not good enough? Am I failing him? Am I not working hard enough?

I started down the same path with Indy and when he went to his new home, I realized I really needed to rip that plant out. That plant could not be a weed, sucking up all my energy but giving me nothing in return. I wanted more from my life than just horses. I wanted to be successful and happy in my work, I wanted to marry the woman I love, I want to have a family. Those things couldn't exist in the same world with horses as I had previously. But maybe the way horses were in my life previously wasn't healthy. Maybe they could give to me and not just take; be something that adds to my life that lets me take on more.

When Spicy came home I had a lot of old habits I had to squash out. I couldn't worry about him incessantly, or guilt myself when things just became too much and I couldn't go work with him. It's taken months, and I still have relapses, but the barn has finally after so many years truly become a place of peace.

I realized it on Monday in particular. Spicy was having a diva day (as I call them) when he just Could Not.

I found this gif and it made me laugh so hard because it's SO SO SO HIM

He was so besides himself I couldn't even get on. We spent the whole session on the long lines and I actually really got somewhere with him. I drove home super proud of his progress and frankly, mine. There was a time where that day would've resulted in me crying in my car. Blaming myself, work, anything my brain touched for why I failed my horse so terribly that it led him to fail me. 

When I think of how horses must look now, in my imaginary life garden, they are a smaller corner than they used to be, for sure, but they are a far more beautiful and peaceful part of my life.


  1. aw i love the garden metaphor, it really fits. finding that balance is so hard, esp bc i'm finding that as an adult, my center of gravity is constantly shifting way more than i ever quite expected. maybe that would be the "seasonal" aspect in the garden metaphor? who knows... anyway i'm so glad to read that things are going so well with Spicy, and that it's truly become a part of your life that's rewarding and happy, vs being a drain

    1. right? I thought when I was in school and everything was changing every 2-4 years THAT was the struggle. But now I find things change constantly... like I'll go through my clothes when I have a free moment, a phrase first used in the summer of 2016.

  2. What a lovely way to look at life and horses in particular - there's only so much space in a garden, and no room for weeds. Thank you, I needed to read this.

  3. Love this so much! The balancing act is truly one of the hardest things about horses

  4. I feel like I am reading a post I could/would/did write about Carlos after I lost him. Before he was gone, anytime he was sidelined I was thrown for the biggest mental loop and anguish. Once he was gone I really had to re-evaluate my life, including some of the shitty people in it I kept around because they were tolerable as long as I had Carlos. Very well said, it's all about balancing the things we love and lean on so that way when the chair leg is pulled out from under us it's not such a big deal, we are able to maintain our balance and rebuild that leg more solidly or maybe even add additional balance points where we need to.


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