When You Don't Get What You Want

I really want gold bell boots, for a horse I own who many believe is named "Feet are Gold."  His name is not Feet are Gold but I won't fault you for thinking so.

Horsemanship is a lifestyle riddled with wants. If you're riding Second Level you'd really like to be riding 4th. If you're showing the Grand Prix you want to try out some CDI shows. If your horse is injured, you just want to ride. When first learn riding, you want to be able to post 4 times around the circle on the longe line without missing a beat.

In a way, the wants keep us going. Want is a kin to "I wish" or "Someday I will."  However, I do as an instructor, barn owner and a rider hear "Want" in another tone. This want is said in the key of defeat. "I JUST WANT THE DAMN HORSE TO GET IN THE TRAILER."  "All I want is to ride outside."

Want is as much about frustration as it is about dreams. In both cases sometimes the WANT(s) of horsemanship get in the way of the HAVES. I want gold bell boots, but I have perfectly good black ones, and a horse "Fidergold" who goes just fine with or without them.  Instead of wanting more for his feet or wanting more people to understand how to say his name, I should be more focused on the fact that he's an incredible horse, great teacher and I'm lucky to have him.

I'm lucky to have any horse. This whole sport starts out with WANT...and I think in the race for improvement we sometimes forget to stand in  awe of how far we have come from when we merely wanted and now we DO.

When challenges inevitably arrive at the barn: injuries, learning plateaus, frustrations I like to remember and list to myself the things I have going for me and my riding. It's my coping strategy. First diagnose the Want: Why do I want this? What is this want? How far away from achieving this goal am I? What is the frustration the word WANT is demanding? What can I do to fix this? 

And after that: gratitude. "Well, I WANT to ride in the clinic but I'm rehabbing Bling. I'm grateful to be riding him, and I'm learning a lot about our training as we recoup." Perhaps gratitude is a search for a silver lining, but it's a helpful salve in times of heartache. If your horse is injured you may want to ride but don't blind yourself to the fact that because of an injury you can improve your relationship with your horse. An injury is a good time to bond and build trust between horse and rider. Perhaps when you're not so focused on riding goals you now have a chance to talk to more people at the barn and really connect to a great new friend.

Want is not all bad. We can't let the dreams of tomorrow blind us to the greatness of today. The heartache of the moment likewise shouldn't defeat you forever. The next time you WANT so badly, stop, give yourself a second and realize first, how much you already have. The gratitude for what is now in your life will certainly help make the road to achieving your "Want" much more joyful.