“In my very humble opinion, I think our ability to deal with such crushing disappointment is because we know how to savor the good times. The quiet, still mornings when it’s just you and your horse. The tears streaming down your face as you gallop through grassy fields.”
For my inaugural Horse Nation blog, I was hoping to amuse you all with the consequences of a cross-country clinic with the legendary Lucinda Green, on a horse I’ve only taken jumping once (copious amounts of sangria may have been to blame for entering).
Sadly, Lucinda had to cancel, striking my star-struck ramblings from the plan. But it got me thinking. Apart from the ability to sense any creature of the equine variety within a 5km radius, equestrians share one skill: dealing with disappointment.
I can say with complete certainty that every single horse-owner or rider who reads this will have had their plans, hopes or dreams totally crushed at some point in their life. Whether it’s a setback in training, an injury or a confidence knock, we’ve all felt that sweeping, soul-crushing disappointment.
Yet we dust ourselves off and try again. We do the rehab work to mend our partners, we work harder to pay off the bigger bills and we put our trainers on speed dial. And again, we’ll get knocked down when another obstacle appears.
Then when it’s not you who’s been knocked back, it’s someone close to you. So many emotions are wrapped in so few syllables: bucked off, lost shoe, vet. And we all know that poor girl whose horse has had more February 29ths than sound days in the last few years. Knowing the pang of disappointment makes us all kindred spirits – we understand and share the pain.
When my gorgeous young thoroughbred was retired this summer, it totally wiped me out. He was my dream horse and my soulmate, and every hope I had for the future was wrapped up in him. But instead of being allowed to mope about my poor horse (now fat and happy in a field), I had a barn full of people making me get up on their horses, letting me take them out for long gallops and little jumps.
In my very humble opinion, I think our ability to deal with such crushing disappointment is because we know how to savour the good times. The quiet, still mornings when it’s just you and your horse. The tears streaming down your face as you gallop through grassy fields. The rhythmical munch and snorts of a barn of horses eating hay.
So, not one to hang around after a plan falls through, I decided to make the most of a free day. We booked onto a ride that would take us up and around the ridges of Kingsclere – some of the most beautiful countryside in the south east of England, and usually inaccessible to riders. With some great friends, we soaked up the magnificent views, went hell-for-leather up gently sloping hills of old turf, and watched riders half my age hurtle over hedges twice the size of them.
As long as my horses are happy and healthy, you can pretty much guarantee my disappointment disappears at the sight of a large glass of wine and an unhealthy amount of pizza. I mean, there’s gotta be some truth in the saying ‘get back on the horse’, right?
Jess Crandon, aged 27 from Berkshire, England, UK
Aspiring eventer, but yet to successfully piece all three stages together. Used to dabble in dressage before buying a horse that doesn’t try to kill you over fences. Usually forgets that riding is meant to be fun.