Sometimes I feel like there are two mes. As in, two of myself. Or, rather, one body, with two different sides. Not front and back or left and right, LOL, but maybe more like Jekyll and Hyde. Although neither side is evil, so maybe not Jekyll and Hyde. Just that the two sides of me are kind of opposite in their goals.
First, came the Horse Me. As a teen, my life was pretty much Eat, Sleep, Ride. Sure, there were lots of other activities in my day, like school, and 4-H, and friends, and church. But mainly I ate, slept, and rode. 4-H was all about horses. Most of my friends were all about horses. In school, I tried to tie as much of my classwork into horses as I could. Honestly, in junior high I actually had a teacher tell me I was not allowed to do any more reports or projects on horses. So for my next report, I chose the Amish as the topic--because of course horses are an important part of their lifestyle. And for the one after that, Sufis--because of their part in the development of the Arabian horse. LOL. In other words, no matter what the topic was, I could find a way to relate it to horses.
Even my electives in high school were tied to horses and my desire to someday run a horse business of my own. Business Management---because I would of course be the manager of the horse business I planned to someday own. Business Law--because knowing some basic legal stuff would be useful to being a business owner. Accounting--because then I wouldn't have to hire a bookkeeper for my farm. Graphic Design--because I like art, and I wouldn't need to hire a graphic designer to create a logo or letterhead or other artwork for my farm. Genetics--because I love science, and what potential horse breeder doesn't need to know a lot about genetics? Etc, etc, etc.
But then I became a mom, and I knew I had to put Horse Me aside. Or, at least, make horses the second most important thing in my life. Then, later, I met DH, and the day I told him "I love you more than horses", I knew I was a goner. Horse Me definitely wasn't second any more. And then came marriage, and getting DH's engineering career off the ground, and more children. Wife & Mom Me had taken over, and, in order to deal with some of the time and money and personal sacrifice aspects of being a committed wife and mother, Horse Me had to be stuffed in a closet. Because otherwise not being where I had wanted to be at that phase of my life (owning a horse farm, training and teaching, riding all the time) was just too depressing to think about.
Even when I was able to own a horse again, I didn't have discretionary funds for my riding. Just the basics: board, farrier, vet. Riding boots had to be either second hand, or the cheapest brand new pair I could get. Equipment was just the essentials, and all purchased as rock bottom pricing as I could find (but quality, I insist on quality stuff, not cheapy things that are designed to be temporary). Barn clothes were whatever 'real clothes' I had stained or torn and could no longer wear 'in public'.
Likewise, time for riding could only come when my daily obligations as Wife & Mom were met. Which meant that at times, I wouldn't ride regularly. Sometimes hardly at all. At times it was very frustrating and hard to deal with. So, in retrospect, I stuffed Horse Me away and didn't let her out much. I kept her on the skimpiest of diets, not daring to feed her and let her get too strong for her chains. Because she and Wife & Mom Me didn't cohabitate very well. Wife & Mom Me knew that family was Numero Uno and that the sacrifices a wife and mom makes in order to raise children well and stay married through all the trials and challenges of life were not exactly things that jibed with a successful riding career, at least not of the type that Horse Me had dreamt of. So, Horse Me had to be kept on the life support of working at horse farms for a few decades rather than the full diet of riding and reading about and training horses.
Most of the time, Horse Me stayed quiet, waiting. On occasion she would pound on the door of her closet, rattle her chains, and yell to be let out, that she was tired of waiting. But, mostly, and especially the last several years of raising children, she has bided her time, trusting that her confinement was nearing an end.
Well, now that all the kids are grown and moved out, Horse Me is being allowed to get off life support and go back, albeit gradually, to a full and healthy diet of horses, riding, reading, and more riding! Time in the saddle has increased tremendously since DS1 et al moved out. I am reading and remembering things about riding that I had forgotten I knew, it's been so long since I used that knowledge. I have, in the past month, attended both a seminar and a symposium about horses/riding. I have been researching nearby dressage trainers and would like to find one to start taking regular lessons from.
With the kids successfully raised to independence, and DH's job travels possibly increasing in the coming year, it looks like the path is clear for Horse Me to come out of confinement and embark on the career she wished for. Or, at least, something of the career she wished for; at this point--and age--I don't think becoming an international-level rider is in the cards.
Hopefully riding and training, shall become my second career now that I have "retired" (after 26+ years) from what was the main consumer of my focus, time, and money: raising my children.
I realized the other day, while logging yet another ride last week (4!! in one week!) into my riding journal, that I have ridden more times so far in 2016 than I did in all of 2015. And in 2015 I had more rides than in 2014. Definitely moving in the right direction for Horse Me's happiness.
In fact, the more I ride, the more I read about riding, the more horse-related activities I do, the more I find myself smiling. And laughing. And not minding quite so much all the mundane parts of life like washing the dishes and cleaning the toilet.