I can’t stand to be around me.
I am short tempered and irritable. I hate just about everyone. I have been indulging far too often and regularly to excess.
I have not exercised in a week, unless you count riding my bike less than a mile to the bar yesterday.
My house is a disaster, there are dishes in the sink, I cannot recall the last time I did laundry. And I really don’t care.
Even my dog steers clear of my reign of terror.
I may be generally cynical about a good many things, but I’m also a pretty happy person. I’ve had a stressful couple of weeks with our entire barn moving to a new facility (stupid llamas), working my first PrideFest weekend as an official Board member (an all-volunteer festival hosting 32,000 people over three days), and helping a dear friend run for an elected position (ultimately unsuccessfully).
Though as Taylor Swift puts it, I’m usually able to just “shake shake shake it off.” Yet I’ve been struggling to figure out why I’m so damn ornery .
Then it hit me – Jorge is broken and I haven’t ridden in TWO WEEKS!
Two weeks. 14 days. 336 hours. Basically an eternity if we are being honest. Or over-dramatic. Or both. Yeah, both.
We had a great horse show at the end of May where we cleaned up in all our divisions. I was proud of my horse as we had been on tenuous terms going in to that competition because schooling at home led me to conclude he was bound for an extended stay with the cowboy who doesn’t believe in Jorge-Jorna style negotiations. My confidence was back and I was excited to start an illustrious career in older amateur medal classes. Not to mention, it was outdoor summer show season, so of course I was totally pumped.
A few days after the show we spent a week moving 25 horses and ALL their stuff – from tack and buckets to mats and feed – to a new barn, as our gorgeous old home had been sold. To people who are going to raise llamas. Yes, you read that right – llamas.
I snuck in one really fun ride right before we left, not knowing that would be the last time my foot would hit a stirrup for what may amount to more than three weeks.
Jorge arrived at our wonderful new barn sassy, fat and sound. I was looking forward to breaking in the new digs with a couple of hacks and a quick lesson before a five day break to attend to other over-commitments of PrideFest and the State Democratic Party Convention. Jorge would be fine under the care of Jess, Lane and Jodie, and the world would keep turning even if I wasn’t going to be at the barn every single day. Somehow. Just barely, though 🙂
I arrived at the barn on a Wednesday early eve. The bad news is he was three-legged lame. The good news is our vet was already on the way to stitch up another unfortunate soul who had gashed his shoulder. Nicky the vet suggested non-invasive treatment for fluid on his right hind flexor before we took more dramatic measures. While I absolutely appreciate that she is not quick to stick them with needles or order expensive tests without exploring our options, I had a sneaking suspicion that she’d be back. If Jorge were a person, he’d definitely abuse the health care system with hypochondria and out-patient surgeries.
Okay, so this was pretty bad timing for me with a hectic weekend, not to mention I’m terrible at asking for help. I could feel my anxiety rising to dangerous levels. I had to believe that he would make it through with some stall rest and I could get back to annoying the bejeesus out of him the following week. Besides, there wasn’t much I could do.
But there was. At least according to my crazy train reasoning.
Obsessing, as only a horse owner can do, I raced at break-neck speed to the barn the next day between events to dote on my horse. I was obviously convinced that 1) his leg was likely going to fall off and 2) I was the only one who could properly apply a wrap to it in an attempt to avoid said amputation. Already near a breaking point, I tore into the aisle sporting barn-appropriate TV interview attire of a black dress and heels to slather Jorge’s leg in “sweat” before binding it with saran wrap and a bandage.
I didn’t want to wrap him in his stall, and we didn’t have cross ties set up yet in the new barn, seeing that we’d been there a total of four days. And that is when I made a fatal error. A lapse in 35 years of quality horsemanship. A really stupid decision.
I tied him to the outside of his stall.
Yeah, you guessed it. My usually docile equine, whom I can leave for hours in the cross-ties while I have a beer or chat with friends, chose that moment to halter pull so hard he ripped the bar right off the front of his stall. I should be slapped for such an err in typically good judgement.
After bursting in to tears, I wrapped my horse and headed back to the chaos of my non-equestrian life, determined to focus on the things I felt I could control for the next few days, as clearly I could not do a damn thing to help my lame horse. Whom I hadn’t ridden now in seven days.
The events of the next three days were a bit of a blur – I worked really hard, I bounced from place to place in an attempt to handle everything as I do, I ate too little and drank waaaay too much, and I exchanged endless text messages with the barn ladies about my horse.
Monday came and I was poised to see Jorge and assess his soundness to determine suitability to attend the horse show next weekend. And I was really really looking forward to some naughty pony antics to make me laugh.
Then during my last meeting of the day I spilled a soda on my computer.
Mayday, mayday! We are dangerously close to a nuclear melt-down!
So to make an incredibly long story about my inability to manage my life short, today marks the 14th day of not riding. And I’m so cranky I can’t stand it.
Because I’m broken, too.
I usually ride no less than five days every week. I’d probably ride six if the barn was open on Mondays. This means my non-work time is spoken for – I don’t drink as much, I cram more in to less space in the day and I somehow manage to precariously balance my over commitments with my inherent need to be at the barn.
Because when I don’t ride, when I don’t have that outlet, I’m a horrible person.
No, it is true. I live to ride horses. Sliding into the saddle allows me to leave everything else behind – there’s nothing but you and a thousand pound flight animal that could kill you any moment. It is glorious and it keeps me sane, and therefore not a threat to the general public.
And I live to ride my horse. Even when he’s a total jerk, he’s my partner in crime, my confidant, the only one who will ever understand me. He just “gets” me and makes me smile despite whatever else may try to distract us from a lovely hack in the field, such as wind or rogue cats, or perhaps just a day ending in Y…
Yes, friends have been incredibly generous and offered up numerous horses to ride. But all of you who ride know it isn’t the same. From that moment when you pick up the reins of your favorite bridle and feel the electricity and comfort of your horse, the outside world ceases to exist. It is only you and his hoofbeats across the sand, a sound so soothing you can feel the stress drain from your body.
At least until your trainer walks in to the ring, snapping you out of your trance.
So I’m broken right now along with my horse. And I know we will both be better when we can get back in the ring – together. It will happen, and I know it will be soon, but not soon enough for the likes of anyone who gets within 20 feet of me until that time!
When an essential part of your life revolves around such a unique relationship with a horse, it is easy to come undone in its absence. And to not even realize that’s what has happened until you are crawling out of your own skin.
I look forward to being whole again, and salvaging any friendships and work interactions that I can. But until then, Jorge and I remain broken and make no promises to anyone to cross our paths! 🙂