I am not a traditional perfectionist. I don't really care if I get a 100 or a 90. An A- would be fine thanks. I've bought in to "to finish is to win" and as long as I finish I'll be happy. I just want to be somewhere above reproach. Somewhere where I can say, in that aw-shucks tone, well I could've done better here and here. But not somewhere where other people can say, reproachfully, well if you'd done a better job preparing for X you could've been ok. I've gotten better over the years, thanks mainly to my husband, but I'm still pretty high-strung on the inside.
Endurance is driving me slightly insane. There's so much in this sport that you cannot adequately understand ahead of time, no matter how much you read about it, how much you talk to your infinitely patient mentors, how much you analyze your horse and the terrain and the previous years' numbers. The first time is still a really scary leap of faith. (Especially, I think, with a TWH - there's fewer stats to analyze, more contentious debate about what gait is best, and that feeling that you're asking something extraordinary from what might really be an ordinary horse.)
A dog blog (with occasional other critters) that I really enjoy did the Stylish Blogger thing. If you like dogs and pretty pictures, you'll like her blog. Here's her post. The relevant bit to this post is #3: "I am an RP – a Recovering Perfectionist. After years and years of having to do something perfectly or not do it at all, I now subscribe to the philosophy of “Good Enough”.... A counselor I was seeing said to me, “Jean, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be Good Enough”. They were life-changing words."
I've been mulling that over for a couple of days. At first I thought "hahah, me too," but I think I've put Good Enough on its own pedestal. If you make Being Good Enough its own 100%-or-bust goal, it's exactly the same as Doing It Perfectly. So I hereby declare that I am just trying. No capital letters. We're going to sign up for the 50 at Rides of March, and as long as I don't break my horse trying, it will be ok. I will not die of shame if it all goes awry.
I have exactly five weekends before Rides of March. There's some easy stuff to accomplish:
- I'm going to start doing trot-outs again. I should have plenty of time to get her going 6 mph in a straight line beside me for 50 feet. Dr. McCartney has seen Dixie trot out and pace out and doesn't mark her down for pacing, so it doesn't even have to be a trot - just something faster than a walk, without the vet scribe waving her arms behind us.
- I am goo-ing her heel bulbs and we'll see if her heels open up. Too soon to say yet.
- I have some syringes. Now I need to buy some applesauce and start catching her and squirting applesauce in her mouth. Maybe she'll stop flinging her head and doing her giraffe impersonation.
- We'll see how much hair falls out in the next couple of weeks, but I'm probably going to end up clipping her. (Me! The anti-interventionist! I'm going to clip my horse! It feels like clipping is one slippery-slope step from just-in-case egg-bar shoes and polo wraps.)
And then there's some stuff that I really don't know the answers to, that I might have to just guess about. I welcome any input from yall. As always I'll just make up my own mind at the last possible minute, but talking about it definitely helps with that last minute gut-check decision.
- Should I find my kimberwicke (or maybe buy a new bit) and bit her up? I instinctively think it won't help, because that horse has greater powers of ignoring than any creature I've ever met. If I get a curb and crank her head in she's just going to charge forward even though she can't see very well. If I get something that's "not smooth" to "get her attention" - dude, I can tell you right now, she used to completely ignore a twisted wire curb. All it does is piss her off. The only surefire attention getter I have is hauling her head around in a one-rein stop, and that doesn't guarantee she'll focus on me. Just that she'll stop moving for a second.
- Oh god, how do I pace my horse? We can do an easy sustained 5-6 mph average by trotting at 6.5 or 7 and taking walk breaks. This kinda sucks though because her 6.5 mph gear is always a trot. If I let her zip along at 10-11 mph she just rolls between trot, pace, rack, and canter, and it seems effortless, but of course that's Too Fast for a Newbie Horse so I haven't done many training miles at that speed. What if I tried to get a 6 mph average out of the 11 mph gears with walk breaks? Is that still too fast?
- Why can't I make her drink!! You can kill your horse by a) not electrolyting or b) electrolyting when they won't drink. The info on the internet always falls into two categories: scholarly articles about mg/dl sodium concentrations and blood serum levels, and anecdotal reports which boil down to "know your horse." How do you come to know your horse without killing it?
I really don't want to be a campfire story told in ridecamps across the west about How Not To Do It. But I've got to try, at some point, and Rides of March is pretty easy and it's familiar to us.