I ride- competitively- in the sport of three day eventing, and the first horse show event of 2021 is this weekend. I just received my ride times, so I know that in about 54 hours I will be trotting down center line! I find straight lines quite difficult when I'm staring at the judge's concerned face. I know she's thinking...9...no 7...no 4...ok I'll give her a break and give her a 5. Ok, the worst part is that I'm not 100% sure that I have memorized the right test. But if I did memorize the right test, I'm worried about the wiggles in my first enter at A, and the 10 meter half circles, and the medium canter, and the trot extension because my saddle is bouncing even after two saddle fitters this spring. (I just checked and thank god I did memorize the right test in the correct size dressage court.) Between my halt-salute at X (I mean G) and the bell for my stadium round, I hope that I can steer my fire-breathing chestnut dragon around a safe cross country course.
I need to do well at this event, because I've really been going through something lately. I haven't had the words to describe it even to myself, so I'm going to just call it an insecurity sandwich (layers and layers and layers piled on top of each other). I won't bore you with the details, but it stems from wanting to impress certain people and failing, not wanting to ruin my nice horses, validating all the money I spend on lessons, and my ultimate desire to be a better rider...and yes, I like to win too. Damn, riding is HARD! It's really hard to get incrementally, noticeably better.
You might be shocked to know how few equine nutritionists ride competitively in any discipline...some do not even own a horse. This has always shocked the hell out of me. I suppose I assumed that, like me, all equine nutritionist fell into the profession in order to support their horse habit. It also concerns me, because I know how much my horse ownership and competitive riding informs my nutrition recommendations. Would you take driving advice from someone who did not own a car? Would you use a CPA who did not have a bank account? Would you take parenting advice from someone who doesn't have kids?
It's the little things that inform me; the anxiety about ulcers and laminitis, the frustration with boarding constraints, the time crunch mixing supplements, and definitely the budgeting! I've owned the the skinny thoroughbred, and the 34 year old senior, and the growing two year old. I've fed the the upper level competitor, the PSSM horse, and the metabolic horse. This is to say...I get it. And maybe you get my insecurity sandwich too.
For all of you out there struggling in your equestrian pursuits, I feel you. Despite all of my riding insecurities, I am tremendously grateful for everyday that my horses are sound and healthy. Part of the addiction, I believe, is the endless quest for perfection. That desire drives us through the insecurities and failures. I'm hoping that I get through this soon. It sucks. I wanna quit. But, of course, I won't.