Exacerbated (long post feel free to skip)

While I know I haven’t done a good job of updating this blog this year I have still been reading all of the blogs I subscribe to. Reading a couple of posts recently made me want to post an update on what is going on more from my riding perspective and mind set than just a general update so here goes.

 I am, along with at least one other blogger, currently struggling with the move up to second level and really have been since last fall. At first it was because I was getting a lot of attitude from Katai as she also struggled with the new expectations but then it became more because we were consistently derailed. First by saddle fit, then ulcers, then SAD, then more saddle fit issues, then my anxiety, then a new boyfriend, then a new puppy, then the weather, then a barn move, then a longer drive, then more expensive lessons, then the weather again…

This weather? Making riding difficult? No that can't be...
 Yeah, so while I’m certainly struggling with moving to 2nd level that’s been exacerbated by all of the other things going on in my life. It is a two way street though and while I’ve shared a lot about all of the other things there is certainly a component of the barn and riding no longer feeling entirely like my happy place, at least not to the extent that it did. The question then is whether I’m going to let myself continue to be derailed and just not focus on riding as much as I have been or completely let the blog go but I don’t want to do either of those things and honestly my life wouldn’t be complete without horses and working toward some sort of riding accomplishments.

Delicious blueberry, spinach smoothies are one way
to make the high heat and humidity tolerable

 So what am I doing to fix it?

 When I stepped back and analyzed why I was really struggling a couple months ago I found that I’ve added the following:
An additional commute in the morning of 10-15 minutes
An additional commute in the evening of 20-50 minutes
An additional commute to the barn each way of at least 20 minutes
Additional time spent walking puppies (I used to be able to let Veggie out in the backyard) of 10-15 minutes 3-4 times per day
Additional time with my bf

 If you completely cut out the time with my bf that’s an additional hour – hour and 45 minutes for days I don’t go to the barn and an additional hour and 40 minutes to 2 hours and 15 minutes on days when I do go to the barn from how my schedule used to be. When you add in time with bf at home and time with bf doing events that pull me away from home that’s a considerable change from my previously quiet (but also lonely :) schedule.

Lots of days like this with huge thunderheads as our weather wildly swings
Having laid that out I feel less guilty for not being able to get to the barn as much or guilty for our lack of progress. Then when I look at budget as well and that is also tight. Moving into the new apartment, needing to pay for parking every day, boarding at a more expensive barn without lessons included, a new puppy, a new (used) car, needing/wanting to go out on dates with my bf… All of these things were items that I took into account but it still feels tighter than I want which is annoying. The tighter budget means fewer lessons and less ability to do shows and/or clinics.

 With looking at the above there are a lot of things that I can’t control but there are a couple of things that I can control and one of those is the barn where I’m boarding Katai. So yep, you guessed it, I’m moving again. The new barn is cheaper by a good bit, and much closer. I’ll easily save 30-50 minutes each time I go to the barn between the shorter drive and the setup of the barn. I found it through my horse network since, like Jane’s place, it doesn’t have any online presence. I’ll do a post specifically about the barn soon, I’m getting so good at them at this point..

One of the busy weekends spent up north with my bf and his family
I have a couple of other ideas as well to help take some pressure off and bf is amazing as always since after I figured this out we had a long positive and supportive conversation about doing a food prep and chores day together. That way we could both get stuff ready together for our busy weeks since not having food to eat has been one of the huge stressors I’ve been dealing with. We’ve also talked about leaving more weekends open so that we can just veg and hang out together or do our own thing (riding for me and climbing for him) vs. always having stuff scheduled.

 I really like this guy.

 There are a couple of other plans in the works to help with reducing my scheduled time but right now they’re just in the beginning stages so nothing I’m comfortable sharing yet. It is making me feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel though. Work has also gotten better in the last couple of weeks thanks to a shift in how our department workflows function and because we added some additional staff. I’m also receiving a promotion which is fantastic :) That all means that my stress should be far lower when I get home which will make for less need to veg and more ability to do the things I want to do.

Another busy weekend spent in NC with my bf for one of his friend's wedding

 As far as what I’m doing to help with my riding?

 I love my current trainer. She’s an amazing person and the tools she gave me to help with Katai’s ground work have made a significant difference. As long as I keep doing my homework I’m confident that next time I show I’ll have a much easier time getting through to Katai which was exactly what I hoped to gain from her. However, she has seemed to me to be uncomfortable helping me get to 2nd level and has encouraged me to clinic vs. taking dressage lessons with her. I truly appreciate her honesty, and, it’s then tough to feel like it makes sense to invest in many lessons with her.

At the new barn there is a dressage instructor that I follow on social media and who is riding at least a couple levels above me. In addition, there is another, locally well known, dressage instructor nearby who has a history of bringing riders up the levels. At this point I’m still comfortable mainly going it alone for a while both to help with my current level of burnout (weekly lessons just aren’t a thing I can do right now) and because we still really need to build strength more than anything else. However, being able to take a lesson a month or as needed to ensure we’re headed in the right directly would be amazing.


 Of course it’s also going to be extremely helpful to be so much closer to the barn. That will help reduce my burnout, increase my motivation to go, and make it easier to get there even when I have more limited time. More than anything I need to get back into a 5 day routine since Katai is not doing well on the 2-3 days a week that I’ve been managing for the past couple of crazy months. So, I finally feel like I have at least the beginning of a plan in place.

Hopefully the reduction in stress and increase in available time will mean I can increase my blogging as well but my first goal is to get my riding back to where it needs to be and then hopefully the blogging will follow!

Comments

  1. You must be psychic- I was just thinking about you and wondering how you were doing! things sound like they have been super hectic but you have a plan. Also, the BF sounds like a gem. :)

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    1. Yay!! Glad I was able to give you and update. There should be more soon. He certainly is :)

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  2. I'm so happy everything is working out so well for you! I don't think there's anything wrong with putting ponies a little on the back burner while you enjoy time with your guy and catch up with the rest of life. I'm stuck somewhere in the realm of second level with B too, and we're also having a bit of a time out from being quite so serious about it. Even if you don't have very many katai updates to blog about, your dogs are super cute, hint hint :)

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    1. Thank you T :) That's amazing to hear and I think I needed that. I've been trying to give myself space but it's tough sometimes! Also, I added extra puppy pictures in my next post but I think I'll do another puppy specific post soon.

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  3. Hopefully setting up a new schedule and freeing up some time with the move gets your groove back!

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    1. Me too! Fingers crossed. It's already feeling better with the nicer weather and I've been out more regularly already.

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  4. I hope things look up, and as a fellow Minnesotan, how the heck do you find these barns? I am semi-confident we won't be on the farm forever and I feel like I need to start looking at boarding places now... but I've gotten very spoiled with my horses at home. You seem to find great barns, so far, even if this one didn't work out! I hope the move and other changes allow you to de-stress and keep chasing your goals!

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    1. Thank you!! Haha, half luck, half networking (read that I've been at enough barns that I've got a lot of contacts lol. You should let me know if/when you're ever looking and the area and budget and I could likely give you some suggestions ;)

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    2. Oh why thank you! I'm still half hoping I can talk my husband into living "a thousand miles from everything" now that he's got a much more normal work commute, but I'm probably a year out from moving if not :( but also... it would be nice to not get up at 5 am to let horses out when it's negative below zero :D

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