The Achilles Heel. This phrase often refers to something that leads to a downfall. Over the past year, I’ve often questioned whether my horse affliction has become my Achilles Heel. What?! I know, I know… Let me explain. As you know, I have been obsessed with horses from the time I could talk. Many of the best times in my life have been those that involved horses. In fact horses gave me my life, in a sense. When I was young, I was invisible. Shy, awkward…I had no particular talent and shied away from being seen. When I first fell in love with Starfinder, my parents (wisely) decided her purchase would be conditional upon me entering the show arena with her. My intoxication with that horse overcame my fears and that moment was when my life changed. I learned so much about myself and I came out of my shell. And I actually was GOOD at something, for the first time in my life. Competing with horses defined ME for a long time.
Fast forward 10 years. I made a decision to give up showing to go back to school. I had a great job that afforded me the luxury of owning a horse - I gave that up too. I moved off of the farm and into the city. I had a plan and a goal, and my goal was to become educated, self-sufficient, and able to return to the life that I loved on my own terms without being dependent on my family for financial support. Thus far that dream hasn’t come to fruition. The economy tanked and now I’m stuck in a job that does not afford me the luxury of owning a horse, let alone showing one. I’m stuck in a house that is barely amenable to having active dogs, let alone fields of grass with munching horses. And I’m still clinging desperately to the one horse that I’ve managed to keep in my life.
I’ve been accused many times of not knowing when to quit. I’ve watched countless people come and go from the horse world. I’ve seen a few stick around – but those are the people that make a living at it or are incredibly wealthy. Neither of those describe me. I’m just a horse loving girl that has kept hanging on for all these years. But at what expense? I’m constantly running at a financial deficit and can’t plan for the future because of Tiny. I look at her and I see her talent wasting away as she ages before my eyes. And I’m not even “living the dream” – I’m living some B-rated version of it where Tiny lives miles away and can’t remember what grass looks like. Is there a time when you raise the white flag and surrender? Am I holding on to hope or holding on to the past? I can’t tell, but I know it breaks my heart every time I look at her. Because I know that she’s not getting any younger, and unless something dramatically changes, every day that passes is one day closer to the end of my dream.
I might sound spoiled and ungrateful (at least I HAVE a horse, right?) and that’s not how I mean to sound. I don’t regret holding on to Tiny for a second. But I wonder if it was the “right” thing to do. Would I be closer to my dream if I had let her go 8 years ago? Would she be winning National titles and being loved on by a little girl that gives her carrots every day? Would I be freer to find a job if I weren’t so bogged down with responsibilities? And would I be less stressed and happier if I weren’t under the constant strain of financial burden? Maybe by holding on to the past, I have forfeited my future. Over the past year of tumult, I have asked myself these questions over and over. And as I contemplated them again recently, it hit me. What if this is it? What if I never have those things that I dream of? It’s time for me to begin living the life I have NOW, not living for the future that might never come. Because, after all, what I’ve got isn’t really so bad….