I’m an equestrian. A lifelong one at that. I’ve been riding since I was five years old, which puts me at a solid thirty years around horses. I’ve owned horses since I was fifteen, which puts my current partnership at twenty and seven years respectively. In those thirty years, I’ve trained professionally and ridden amatuerly. I’ve done clinics and shows, imagining myself as having this great career in horses.
I think to everyone’s shock, I never chose a career with horses except in a roundabout way. Part of that was my lack of money to go professional consistently (renting a barn is $$$$ locally not including expenses), and part of it was my concern that if I pursued my passion for $$, I’d lose it. I’d seen it happen in farriers and trainers and I didn’t want it to be me. There is a correlation, I thought, between working horses and dealing with horrible people, a correlation I wanted nothing to do with.
So I have, for the past twenty years, contented myself with my longest partnership ever. My mare is an Arabian and she taught me through my youth and into my thirties what it is to be patient and kind. I still have my moments of frustrated grumbling at my horses but most of that is moot point by now. I get over it fast and generally speaking so do my mares. I bred her 8 years ago and 7 years ago her replacement was born, a chestnut mare that I’ve come to love just as much as her mother.
Horses can teach you so much about yourself, in surprising ways. I know my strengths and weaknesses as a rider and it often translates to my writing. I’m a big picture thinker when it comes to riding, so at times I have to really work to see the small details. This is true in my writing as well. I often ignore the small details in favour of the bigger plot line, so when someone asks me to define something I have to really buckle down to look at the finer things. Which is fine, doesn’t make me a worse rider or a worse writer. I also am prone to self-frustration when I can’t excel at something right away. That is a bigger problem as a rider than it is a writer I’ve found.
But the thing about the problems that are shown by the horses is that none of them are what could be classified as unfixable. They’re stuff we have to work on for ourselves.
A prime example was today when my old mare decided to canter through the brush and my concern at the moment was that it was going to spring into a gallop through trees and down hills (she’s not that silly but my brain tends to catastrophize quickly). I at first went right for the worry before my brain caught up to my body’s warning signals and reminded me that ‘hey, we’ve been through all of this before. We know what to do’. And we set about working the mare until she was calm and walking again.
This is very true to how you need to face your writing when you do it as often as I do, as often as many writers do. You may face a blank page one day and not know what to do. You need to sit there, breathe, and focus. Your brain needs to catch up to the panic of your body and you need to let them both harmonize and come together. Your brain needs that chance to sort it all out. Don’t panic. You know what you need to do.
Just do it.
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