Wits End - How to RELAX?
I hope that this is where this post belongs. Fair warning THIS IS A NOVEL here goes;
I have been riding since I was very young, almost entirely Western. I have competed at high level events and have always felt confident on top of a horse.
I had to stop riding when I went to University. When I graduated I took some lessons, got back in the saddle and even hired coaches and trainers to help me with a lovely mare. I was forced (due to lack of boarding availability) to sell her shortly thereafter. I have since bought my own land and I have two lovely mares that I purchased from an amazing QH breeder. This breeder/coach has helped me every step of the way and continues to be a great support. However...
This is a roller coaster of emotions that I did not expect. When I was boarding my mare I knew that when I was gone (like at work etc) she was well looked after. I knew that there was a knowledgeable staff to make sure that she had enough of the right kind of feed, that she was comfortable and safe and that they would look after her and call me if there were any issues (and they could spot the issues). Now that is not the case. I went away for the weekend (I had a close horse savvy friend look after my mares) and I was a nutbag. I called everyday and was generally miserable. My one mare has a history of jumping fences when she gets bored. It's enough to make me mental.
Beyond that I feel like I have to be 'doing' something with my horses. They have great breeding and are well on their way to having some great training to go with that. Every time I go to the field I feel like we have to be working on a goal, although what that is I haven't got a clue. I feel like I am wasting their potential. I could show with the APHA, APHc, CTR or I could even get my one mare on the jumping circuit in my area, but I really don't have the cash for that. Besides, when I get too focused on what I should be training toward I feel like everything becomes a battle and every little snit my mares throw makes me want to give up, sell them and cry in a corner. As an example my one mare is a little buddy sour, not the worst problem you can have with a horse, but just thinking about dealing with it nearly makes me have a breakdown.
I love my girls, I love that they have personalities (and that they always seem to know just how much of their crap I can take) but I'm not sure how many more ups and downs I can take. I feel like I am suddenly clueless, but it's more a case of too many options.
Any tips on how to enjoy owning horses and just relax?
I know how you feel. I can't really offer any advice, but the same happened to me and I still get overwhelmed and feel like "what's the point" at times. I never really did show mine or cared about it, I just enjoyed riding and did some endurance stuff. I always boarded though, dreaming that one day I'd have a place of my own and my horses in my own backyard. That day finally came (10+ years ago) and now I long for the days of boarding again. I think partly, it's the companionship and security you get from boarding...not that you neccesarily have a ton of friends, but you have a sounding board of like minded people. You have security in knowing that people are there and you can be alerted of any issues concerning your horse. If there are questions pertaining to any number of horse issues (tack, feed, grooming, training...you name it) there are people there with advice.
The entire time I boarded, which was several years, I never once felt like I was in over my head or that I didn't know what I was doing. Thinking back, I boarded from the time I was 18 until I turned 26. When I got my horses on my property, I got so frustrated at times. I didn't feel near as competant as I did before, so many times I would question if something I did was right or not. I found myself riding less just because I hated riding by myself. And like you said, I worried if someone had to take care of them while I was out of town (which is a good bit).
Over the years, the feelings have subsided some and I've calmed down with it, but it's still there. I'm at a point in my life now that I'm going to be proactive about finding horse people to hang out with...haul to this arena near me and ride plus make more time for planned trail rides. I'm on a facebook group with local horse people, that helps some because we're near each other and can meet up at events. So, like I said before...no advice, but I understand and have been there...and the feelings do slowly go away.
This is gonna be tough for you to do but..........
Buy a big round bale of hay
Buy a big stock tank for water
Hotwire around your fence, a foot to 2 feet inside the fence line for your jumper girl
Have a friend keep her eye on them from a distance, she's only to check and make sure they're both standing and don't have blood spurting, and you go off for a weekend or longer and no phone calls allowed.
Repeat as often as necessary to teach you that they really are ok if we don't wait on them hand and foot every second of every day.
Oh KJ, if my husband were to read your post, other than the fact that we don't OWN two mares, and I've never ridden Western, well, he'd think I'd written it! :wink:
I am JUST like you, only my worries are about my little dog and leaving her at home for even two HOURS to go someplace at night! I worry about ridiculous small things like an auto breakdown causing my husband to get to work late and some HUGE HORRID thing like him losing his job happening as a RESULT...and that spirals into ME FEARING losing MY job (of EIGHT YEARS, not TOO likely!) :wink: on the same WEEK, and then becoming HOMELESS, and on and on and on!:oops:
I have no advice at the moment (and if you read my "snit" on the thread about "Does it bother you when people want to ride your horse", I think you will get the "gist" of what sort of panicky/negative mood I'm in...in fact, I've had the VERY same thoughts as you are...when I asked some folks on the forum about leasing, I explained that I CAN'T buy my OWN horse until I have TEN THOUSAND dollars in the bank set aside for horse-related emergencies!"...even for a medically insured horse! I am SUCH a SPAZZ!! I am NOT calling YOU a spazz, by the way, I simply KNOW that I AM one...you may simply be having a difficult or stressed out moment!:lol:
As I nurse in the mental health field, I realize full well that this is considered something called "hypervigilance" which CAN happen as a result of even a totally unrelated circumstance causing a case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (which would of course have to be diagnosed by a therapist!)...When my husband returned from Iraq, he definitely experienced PTSD and it was later discussed with his therapist as being the cause for his extreme hypervigilance upon finishing his four years with the Army...it DID subside, and a few years later, he's one of the most laid back guys EVER...but...it takes time.
Perhaps something ELSE is causing you some severe worry/concern and it's painting the feelings onto your horses and their related care/training/etc...? There are ENOUGH horrors in this world right now that you can pretty much take your pick! The uncertainty surrounding the election in a few weeks, the unemployment rate, overbearing poverty surrounding us every day as we move through life...then just the stressers related to living in a highly mechanized, highly UN-PHYSICALLY ACTIVE world...most people do not get enough exercise and time AWAY from the news, the computer, the electronics, etc...
I realize this may not be helping at all, I just wanted you to know, as did another poster, that you are NOT ALONE...perhaps continue talking about your feelings WHENEVER you feel that fear rise up to a spouse, friend, loved one, counselor, etc...and if something in your past is causing you pain, well, it's time to unearth that pain and DEAL with it as best as you can...hang in there. You can ALWAYS come HERE to talk, as well!! :lol:
I don't know if this helps at all, either, BUT...I did want to tell you that IMO, you sound like a VERY dedicated, caring, conscientious, and loving horse mom! Something to feel VERY good about in today's world! Chin up...it will get better...:wink:
So I'm getting some really good hay and building a feeder tomorrow. Both the girls are doing better each day, so I'm relaxing a little... Although now both of them have colds so I'm freaking out about that. As others have mentioned I never felt over my head boarding, but owning is another story. Thank you for all the supportive comments.
And as a side note, Back2horseback, your post was super helpful and yes, I am a spazz.
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I'm super happy to hear you're feeling, in general, a bit more optimistic; and I'm super SORRY your girl's have COLDS! :0(
I have been thinking about the whole "being stressed out" situation which so many of us find ourselves in, and I really theorize that it comes in cycles...changes in season/hormones/certainly general circumstances, but also things like not eating or sleeping too well for more than a couple of days in a row--This stuff ALL can really cause ME to overreact to what might still be something important, but, if I was feeling more rested and healthy, I'd have a much easier time coping.
Anyhow, I sincerely pray your babies get over their horse sniffles just as FAST AS POSSIBLE(!) & that you keep feeling more optimistic overall as the days go by...I also applaud your having come to HF to get some of your thoughts and feelings down on "paper"...if needed in the future, feel free to do so again, as well as always sharing your good news here!
Everyone here for the most part loves to cheer on or cheer up our fellow horse-lovers! :0) And I DON'T THINK you are a spazz at all...as they say, "The SMARTER you are, the TOUGHER life can feel at times." How 'bout we just considered ourselves GENIUSES-hehe!
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Sorry to hear you are feeling that way. It sounds like you are just feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilites right now and its not surprising - horse ownership is a lot of work, time and commitment.
Maybe you just need to step back and remember what it is you love about horses and why you own them. Although you may feel guilty about them not reaching their potential you have to remember that for them as long as they are fed, loved and well cared for then that is a happy life for them. Just enjoy spending time with them and try to relax when you start feeling panicked about all of the things you should be doing with them. If you can focus on one thing at a time like working on the buddy sour issues then that is plenty right now.
I started feeling stressed recently because I wasnt riding my horse that often but realised that as long as he is well cared for he is perfectly happy hanging in the paddock with his mate. For me just going and sitting in the paddock with them while they are grazing can be enough to remind me why I have them. Get back to basics, just spend time grooming and being with your horses. I'm sure you will get there :-)
What Dreamcatcher said!
The horses don't care about their show ring potential. Truly they don't. They don't care if they win you ribbons or if they cost you $500 because they spooked at a suddenly scary object that you've passed a thousand times the day but somehow managed to change position by a half inch and is not suspicious.
Your goal with your horses should be "end on a good note". That's it.
Take a mini break vacation and don't call home!
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Well, I got some good hay out there, it's tarped but they can take small bites out of a little hole in the side. Not my original intent but it seems to be acting as a slow feeder lol.
DancingArabian and Dreamcatcher; I can't afford anyy more vacations but I've done the next best thing. I have bales out there, they have a ton of water and I can't work them bc all three of us have colds! I've been going out once a day to see how the colds are progressing and then coming back home to bed. Forced relaxation. Geez, boarding was so much easier!!
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