The Five Minute Ride

Part of growing up, is realizing how immature you are something I realize is part of the reason why I’ve been worried and afraid. I’ve thrown virtual temper tantrums and I’m sure there are more ahead.

Writers tend to be in their heads a lot. Which means, we tend to be a bit more self centered than the general populous. I’ve been frustrated because I’m not where I want to be. I’m not competing nor riding regularly. I’ve been pitching fits and punishing myself because I haven’t gotten things done when I expected them to be done. Yes, if that statement doesn’t make sense, believe me it doesn’t make sense to me either.

When I was younger, my mom would say if you misbehave you can’t ride- I never misbehaved. Once, I grew older and she no longer held the reins to my decisions I still used the same punishment. You can’t ride or be around your horses if you don’t do x,y,z. I would often let myself down and therefore I punished myself by not riding. Can you see how self fulfilling that is? I got to the point where I pretty much told myself you can’t ride because you aren’t good enough.

I am a very good rider as well as a very good instructor. It’s hard to ignore those whispers though, and as I made more and more mistakes those lies grew louder and louder. Several times I told myself to give up and sell the horses. I almost did but every time I was about to write up their ads I stopped because someone would reach out and say- hold on a little longer.

I’ve owned Julie for almost seven years. She is more than a pet; she is a companion. She has seen me through multiple ups and downs. I love her to pieces and as I grow older I dream of having her in my backyard because I want her close to me. People tell me that I shouldn’t want horses in my backyard- that it is too much work but I disagree. Isn’t it easier to walk to a barn thirty feet away than to drive fifteen minutes one way? I’d love to be able to go out, feed my horses and go back to bed.

I digress, about two weeks ago I realized something. I was scrolling through photos of people riding their horses through snow or on the beach and I thought- I want that. I want that simplicity. I’ve been so fixated on being the best and hating myself because I wasn’t born into a home that had money that I forgot what being a horse person is all about.

Two weeks ago, I stopped hating myself for something out of my control. I decided to ride Julie bareback, at a walk, for about 20 mins. We worked on some things but I didn’t put pressure on myself. I didn’t get mad because we weren’t jumping 3’3″ fences. I enjoyed our partnership. I enjoyed the fact that I think something and she does it. I enjoyed the communication between us and I enjoyed that she is my horse. I also found it entertaining that she was worried about Fae. The two are attached. I know most would say I need to wean them from each other. I will, in time.

Today, I had to shovel a lot of snow to clear a path to their turnout. The problem- I didn’t clear a wide enough path for three bodies (I would have died). Solution: I’ll ride Julie and pony Fae. Both were in for most of the past 24 hours. There is only one horse I would ever get on knowing that- Julie. I led her to my truck and spent a couple of minutes convincing her to stand still and trying to keep Fae from being too nosy. I got Julie close enough to my bumper and Fae was standing still on Julie’s far side. Julie finds it funny to start walking before I get on. She always make sure I’ve gotten on her back but doesn’t wait for me to get settled. Which means that this morning I launched myself onto her back and wiggled into place as Julie turned and headed towards the turnout. She had a pep in her step and Fae followed along behind like we do that all the time.

I never do that with them. The last time I rode Julie with Fae around Fae was about a month old and she galloped around screaming bloody murder because what I was doing broke all the laws of her little world. I’m so glad Fae figured out that humans riding horses is normal. I think Fae was a little jealous I decided to ride Julie instead of her. We got to the paddock without incident. When I got off I managed to wrap Fae’s lead around my leg. Luckily, she stopped and let me undo it.

Those two horses are amazing. I can do anything with them and they’ll do it. They trust me.

Today, on my five minute ride, I remembered the magic of riding.

Happy Trails.

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The Times

Julie and Fae January 2015

Julie and Fae January 2015

Fae August 6th 2013 3AM

Fae August 6th 2013 3AM

Fae's first steps August 6th 2013

Fae’s first steps August 6th 2013

Fae was born August 6th, 2013 after 362 days of waiting and worrying and pacing and uncertainty. This plain little filly came out more beautiful and amazing than I could have ever imagined. I love her to bits and I am so proud of Julie. She was (and is) such an amazing mother. She took everything in stride (I know it’s a pun). Both horses have moved multiple times and they’ve never put up a fuss nor did anything wrong. They are both worth their weight in gold.

I am exhausted though, after 17 months of owning those two (and moving several times and having to give up a third horse to a rescue because I couldn’t afford her) I am at my wit’s end. I take care of them every day. I love them, I do, but I just want to be able to breathe. I want to enjoy them instead of rushing through their care. Fae wants attention as does Julie. Both horses need regular work not because they are crazy but because they want jobs. I bred Julie because I wanted a foal from her. I love her movement and I wanted to make sure her bloodline would live on after she passed. As I reflect on everything though, I’m wondering if I’m digging myself into a bigger hole.

Things look like they are getting better on the outside, but they aren’t. I moved back home (yes, I don’t pay rent) and I got a full time job (yes, I have a full time job) but I’m not close to where I want to be. In fact, I feel as though I’m as far from my goals as possible. I’m struggling with debt and with an incurable disease. I have so much doubt and fear that I just want to throw in the towel and walk away. I know I shouldn’t. I know that I have to keep pressing on but I just don’t know why. I’m broke. All of my money goes to my horses. On reddit I was reminded that horses aren’t a right but a privilege. I’d go a step further and say they are a responsibility.

Most people would have sold the horses by now. It’s the logical thing to do; but I am not most people. When my mom asked me why I wouldn’t sell them I said “I should just get rid of them because it’s not convenient for me? Because I have to make sacrifices? That’s what [my father] did. I don’t want to be like him.”

The crux of the situation is that I’ve been let down by a lot of people. I’ve been cast aside by many who no longer feel I am important enough to care about. My biological father was selfish (I’ve written about him and I’ve done vlogs about him too) but my stepfather was also selfish. He, my step dad, stopped living after his sister and mom died (both from cancer). He took to the bottle and to smoking weed. He gave up fighting for his family and he let his cancer take him. He died two weeks after I graduated college; and it was just another reminder as to why I don’t let people into my life.

The truth is- they will leave you. Through death or decisions, they leave. 

I’ve kept my horses because I need them. Whenever I hit a dark spot they are what keep me from going over the edge. My thoughts always turn to who will take care of them? Will they be ok? You can’t leave them. I am more attached to them than I am to my family because my horses won’t leave me but my family.

My mom is starting a new chapter in her life. I’m excited for her, but I’m scared, because she is selling my childhood home and her new place will be too small for anyone else but her.

I’m at my wit’s end because I don’t have the money to rent and I don’t have any place to live. I have three cats I have to think about. Most people would say get rid of them but I can’t/ won’t. They are my responsibility. I made a commitment to them and I’m not going back on it.

I’ve been so self centered lately. I keep pushing people away because I can’t deal with them. I’m drowning and I don’t have any way of keeping afloat. My job doesn’t pay enough for me to sustain myself and my horses and my cats. I don’t have anyone to turn to for help (let’s face it any help people give me is short lived. I’ll wear out my welcome in no time.)

Yes, there are things that might happen. There are ideas and half thought of schemes, but at this very second, none of that matters. I’m dealing with the repercussions of a car accident where I hit my head pretty badly. I thought the whole personal injury process would be quicker than it is; but my lawyer is unhelpful (just another man who has let me down) and I’m getting sick of empty promises.

That is what I’m getting- empty promises.

Get a college degree & you’ll make more money.

Believe in God and he’ll always provide.

Just believe and it will work out.

I’m a hard worker but it’s not enough. When I go to the barn I ignore everyone there, because I don’t want to interact with them. It’s too much work. People always let you down and so I have to do everything myself. I love my horses so very much; I want to be able to have a well paying career and enjoy them but I just don’t see how it is possible.

Yes, I’ve started developing my writing portfolio; for goodness sakes’ I’ve been published in the Trakehner magazine and I am the editor for the spring edition. I need to start working on it. The deadline is coming up fast. There is a lot I want to do as I wrote about on my main blog and I have a lot of ideas but I’m getting worn out. It is best described by this poem written by yours truly. However, it’s a bit clunky and needs some tweaking.

I’m not looking for some guy to swoop in and save the day. I think Ilona Andrews writes it best: I can’t find where the excerpt is for the line I’m looking for so I will paraphrase it “I used to carry myself home bloody and dirty. I would clean my wounds and take care of myself but it was lonely no one was there to say ‘I’m glad you’re still alive and you made it back safe.’ Now, if I’m missing or don’t answer a call I know someone is out looking for me and I’m no longer alone.”

I’m veered off from the main point of my post but I’ll bring it back. I love my animals. I do. They make my life worth living but they can’t reciprocate the care I provide. They don’t call me to make sure I’m ok. They can’t go out and pick up food if I’m too exhausted to make something. They are my responsibility. One I am fully committed to, but sometimes, I wish I had someone who was willing to share the burden. Someone who would say “You’ve got this and when you feel like you don’t I’m here and I’ve got it.”  I want to be with someone who is excited about what I’m excited about even if he isn’t passionate about it. Someone is here in the physical world; someone to walk beside and to dream and plan with. I don’t need anyone in my life. I don’t need people to survive but their company is something I enjoy. I don’t need my horses to continue living but they make my life better. I am who I am because I’m stubborn and I’ve fought to accomplish this much.  I just don’t know if I can keep on fighting. Kate, the main character in Ilona Andrews’ stories, is a fighter; a killer. I love her grit and determination but I am not a killer. That doesn’t mean I’m not a fighter but fighting without an end in sight is draining and I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to stay in the battle.

The idea behind The Trakehner Files

Do you ever do something/ create something or volunteer to do something without knowing why? As in, you have the curious notion afterwards that you just did something silly but also important?

For me: That is what I feel when I blog.

I created this blog on a whim. The Trakehner Files what a weird name for a blog. It reminds me a bit of the early ’90’s show the X-files. Cue the weird/ eerie music. As I was driving home from the barn this morning I had an epiphany and now, I realize what I want to do with this blog.

I want to make it a website where I write about my Trakehners and how I’ve worked with them/trained them. I also want to have my horses “write” guest posts on here. A bit like the Dear Murray facebook group. Not quite the same, but something similar.

While driving, I also realized that I want to write about developing my line of Trakehners and why I chose the bloodlines I did. I am beginning to toss around the idea of traveling across the country to visit various Trakehner breeding farms (there is a mare I want, she’s located on the West Coast and I’m on the East Coast.)  Furthermore, once I’ve developed my farm and breeding stock I’d like to travel internationally and visit Trakehner breeding facilities around the world. Which will help me get a better understanding of the breed and what breeders as a whole, hope to achieve.

Why am I so specific on breed? Well, I love the breed- it is a very pure breed and it isn’t popular. Of all of the breeds I’ve worked with, I like this one the most. Trakehners are smart, sensitive, intuitive and they are particular. They are very loyal. The breed isn’t quick to spook or bolt. They are hardy and versatile. Their history is fraught with suffering and uncertainty and there were times when the breed almost disappeared. Despite all of those difficulties, this breed has survived. They have remained. The breed has had over three hundred years of careful breeding and the result is an athletic sport horse that is used to refine other warmblood breeds.

Over the past three years I’ve felt I should be a successful writer. I’ve jumped around and I’ve given up multiple times. During the past week or so, I realized that writing takes a long time to mature. Just as the breed has go through many changes and adjustments (but still stayed true to its ideal) so have I, as a writer. I’ve changed my focus with horses. I’m no longer fixated on riding in the Olympics. Now, I realize that I’d rather help shape and keep Trakehners from slipping into oblivion.

My creation of this blog, The Trakehner Files, is my acknowledgement of what my long term goals are. 

American Trakehner Brand

American Trakehner Brand

The New Year

Greetings, one and all.

On the first of January all Thoroughbreds celebrated their birthday. Some received cakes and beer as well as treats and for others, it was just another day. It’s quite an interesting tradition we have and it’s a bit outdated. Did you know that because we traditionally have Thoroughbreds’ birthdays on the first of the year breeders of all breeds are fixated on making sure foals are born as close to the new year as possible. When we think about that it is a bit silly, especially in the northern hemisphere where temperatures are below freezing and newborn foals need heavy blankets and heating lamps. I’m thankful that Fae was born in August, she was able to spend her first few months warm and running in the sun. Truth be told how I’ve raised her has been outside the normal breeders’ standards.

For this first post of the new year I would like to give you two tips on how to keep horses on a shoestring budget, because believe me, if I can keep horses on my budget you’ll be able to keep horses on yours.

Tip #1:

The various news outlets are filled with neglect, abuse and horrible stories about how horse owners let their horses starve and the images of those poor horses are dreadful. However, those stories don’t have to be the norm. My first tip is to assess what your budget is. If you are truly a horse person you will give up fast food, starbucks and that shiny new cellphone. The money from those things will be enough to buy food for your horses. In addition to that, contact your local rescue. There are many in every state and most have some kind of food bank. Honestly, most rescues would rather you keep your horses and are willing to help you out in a pinch. The caveat is that you also have to make financial changes which leads me to tip number two.

Tip #2:

When you bought your horse everything was going fine, you had a good job and you were paying the bills. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way your expenses increased while your pay stagnated or went down. It happened to me and it has happened to scores of other horse owners. As mentioned above when times get tough, a smart horse owner will get tough on their budget. Too many horse people (myself included) ignore proper budgeting practices and instead they think “everything will pay itself…” that mindset is destructive to your health as well as your horses’ health. It is based on the notion that you have no control over your expenses but you do. The other thing to remember that your expenses increase by one and a half times for every additional horse that you have.

How do I know this? I have owned one horse for over six years. I was able to pay my bills and pay hers it was tough but I did it. Then I had the brilliant idea to breed her. I knew my expenses would increase, but instead of being smart and saving up, I bought a third horse from auction. The goal, of course, was to train and resell her. When I bought the third horse I realized that I wouldn’t be able to sell her as she had been abused and had lumps on her girth area (two very unmarketable traits). Most people would have turned around and dumped her back into the auction. I didn’t, I did end up spending a lot of money on her and most days I wonder why I did.

The moral of the story is: don’t buy an additional horse if you are already strapped for cash, yes, you could turn around and make a quick buck; but the more likely outcome is that you will have an additional horse to feed and you will bury yourself in debt. Owning one horse is relatively easy, but if you don’t have a barn in your backyard and your income is less than ideal adding additional horses isn’t a smart move.

I eventually surrendered that third horse to a rescue. Unfortunately, I made that decision way after I buried myself into debt. Sometimes be nice and doing the right thing is actually detrimental to your long term health. Remember that before you purchase that fixer upper horse.