Sunday, July 12, 2009

Missing the Show Season?

I've had a bit of a melancholy summer. Which is weird considering that a lot of good things have happened to my husband and me:
  • We built an addition on our house, and it's beautiful.
  • We both have great jobs that we love and have been fortunate enough to be doing financially well in this economy.
  • My husband has renewed his relationship with his three grown children, and it's going well.

So what's wrong with me? I wish I could put a finger on it. I know part of it has to do with horses. I've been in love with horses since I was a very little girl. So life without horses isn't an option for me.

This year, I chose not to show. Am I missing the excitement and camaraderie of horse showing? Am I wandering aimlessly in my riding rather than pursuing a goal? Is that such a bad thing? All of my friends are off to horse shows, while I stay home. I rarely ride my mare, maybe once or twice a week. That's not much for me. I still take lessons, and they're going amazingly well considering how little I do ride.

All these great plans I had for my life, all the things I wanted to do but didn't do, are starting to catch up with me. Many of them have to do with horses. I always thought I'd get my dressage medals. Yet, I'm not even close to getting my Bronze, let alone silver or gold.

On top of that I miss the friendships. I met most of my dearest friends through horses. Anymore it seems as if I go to the barn, ride, and leave, without really socializing with anyone, and I'm a social person. One of the reasons I board my horse is because of the people at the barn.

So here I am, wondering where to go from here. Should I bring the horse home and buy a nice Quarter Horse for my husband and ride into the sunset? Should I attempt to make a new commitment to my riding? Do I ever really want to go through the stress of showing?

I wish someone could give me the answers, but I know that I'm the only one who can do that. I appreciate everyone's patience as I struggle to make sense of whether or not showing is in my future. It seems as if this issue has been the subject of all my posts lately.

Have any of you quit showing and found horse activities to replace it? Do any of you keep riding and taking lessons to pursue a goal unrelated to ribbons and points?

8 comments:

Brenda said...

Jami, I have left the show pen (after years of being there with 3 children) to trail ride. I have started Competitive Trail Riding, which still brings in the competition side of me. I don't miss the show pen. I am doing something for me now. If you find something you truly love, and you miss doing it, you will know that it is right for you! I know you will find whatever you are searching for! maybe socialize at the barn, but that doesn't mean that you need to show with your friends, unless that is what you really want to do! good luck!

Laura Crum said...

Jami, I competed for twenty years, in cowhorse, then cutting, then team roping. I gave up the judged events partly cause I didn't care for the way they were judged, and I gave up the team roping because I got sick of seeing horses and cattle trashed in the interests of winning. I grew to hate the whole concept of competition; I don't think the idea of "winning" does anything good for anyone. Even the words and emotions that arise when people compete are enough to turn me off these days. I still hang out at the roping arena with my friends, gather the cattle...etc, which helps with the social aspect. But the truth is I find my greatest joy in riding down the trail, either by myself, with my son, or a close friend. That and having my horses here at home where they are part of my life...this is what makes me happiest. I don't miss competing at all, to be honest. However, I am by nature someone who likes being alone; I'm not a particularly social person. Good luck with your quest to find the right balance for yourself. We're all different.

Half Dozen Farm said...

Jami:

I can so relate to what you are going through, and I'm SO glad to hear that I'm not the only one!

I've always had grand horsey dreams and aspirations, as well as a competitive spirit, and it has just recently started to dawn on me that, due to family, home and work commitments (somehow my prince charming wasn't independently wealthy *sigh*), I will probably never attain them. I thought I was having a female midlife crisis there for awhile!

It is mildly depressing to realize that I'm getting older and "have nothing to show for it" (nevermind the beautiful children, a great husband, a good career, and a busy farm!).

Right now I'm struggling to find my niche also. I'm trying to find new horsey friends that are lower-key. Not necessarily NON-competitive, just people that aren't completely focused on competition. I've started taking lessons again with a trainer who is lower-key and I'm just focusing on putting a good, solid, all-around foundation on my young mare. That way, when and if I do figure out what to do next, we can move forward...

I would very much like to hear how this turns out for you. Hang in there!

Shanster said...

I don't need to show - I do occasionally as a "check" for what I'm doing. I didn't show this year for other reasons.

I still do clinics and lessons just for the sheer joy of learning and knowing my horses... I know that wouldn't work for everyone but it is good for me.

I think of the lessons and clinics as my key to understanding - the bible to my church - :)

Please don't be too hard on yourself while you are figuring it out. Sometimes beating yourself up prevents you from seeing what you "need". Good luck and all the best - Shan

Anonymous said...

As an instructor, I find the students who get the most from their riding are the ones with a goal.
That goal can be anywhere from grand plans to show on the "A-circuit", or to feel secure and confident on the trails.

The reason showing is the most common goal, is that it gives you something to work for, it gives you a timeline, and it gives you an honest answer/outcome.

Set your sights on something that interests you, give yourself a timeline to get there, and then work at it. Have a plan for every ride (even if that plan is "today I want to relax and enjoy every minute of this ride").
Riding with no goal can feel like swimming through honey. No plan/direction, you just keep going but you're not sure where, and it starts to feel pointless.

Jami Davenport said...

I want to thank everyone for the comments. I'm still struggling, but i think I'm closer to the answer. I'll post it in a few weeks.

Hannah said...

I know I'm a little late, but I just discovered this blog today. I'm way younger than most people who read blogs like this (I'm 18), but I find it interesting to learn from others. I ride a lot, especially since it's summer, but I've never shown in the traditional sense. (I ride on a precision mounted drill team, so my shows consist of performing in rodeos over the summer, and it's based in western riding). I'm coming to my last year with the drill team organization, and I used to think I would have no idea what to do with myself after I was done (the rules of the organization say you must graduate the November after you graduate from high school, which is this November for me).

This summer, however, I had an opportunity to take an English riding lesson (hunter/jumper) for free, basically to see if I would like it. I LOVED it, and now I am trying to take as many lessons as possible before I go to college next month. I have ridden Western for 6+ years now, and everybody tells me I'm a very good rider (define that as you wish), but it's almost boring now. I don't feel like I can grow and become a "better" Western rider, just a different one (such as going into barrels or pleasure or reining, or something). None of that interests me. However, with discovering English and how different and more difficult it is, I have a whole new world of options and goals. I am riding not to show (because that's still not an option...beyond the summer rodeos), but to learn. Ribbons and points actually confuse me more than anything. I have a goal to become an English hunter/jumper that everyone says is good. I'd love to show someday, but I don't see that happening for at least 10 years due to college and hopefully vet school. Right now, I'm nowhere near good enough to show, even if it was an option. I'm basically starting over, but in the middle, because I already know how to ride and feel confident on a horse.

I compete only with myself, working to improve from the previous lesson (which may or may not have been a week ago...I'm a pretty much broke pre-college student!). I'm fortunate enough to know a lady who not only lets me ride her horses but encourages it, and trailers me (and the horse) to her barn (she keeps her horses at home) for lessons, all I have to do is pay the trainer. I have the opportunity to "practice" my English riding pretty much anytime I want, always working towards my personal goal. I've never had so much fun!


And Brenda, I hope to go to my first Competitive Trail ride next summer...the lady is an avid competitive trail rider, and has said she love for me to compete one of her horses next year. I can't wait!

Jami Davenport said...

Hannah,

I'm so glad you found our blog. Welcome!!! I wish you well on your education and with your riding. Keep dropping in and letting us know how it's going.