I’m completely aware dates are arbitrary numbers we humans have assigned to chunks of times the better to parse them. There is no real significance in the turning of a decade. I’m also completely aware, though, that my mindset has a huge impact on my life. And so I’m not above using meaningless milestones to my own advantage.
Last year was a tough year. For me, it began with the flu, followed by complications. I was back on my feet for little more than a month. Then I got into some poison ivy.
Up until recently, I thought poison ivy was a lot like cactus. You definitely don’t want to touch it. If you fall into it, it sucks. But it’s not really a big deal. You pluck the thorns out. You’re sore for a while. You move on.
Turns out poison ivy can get way, way worse than that.
In my case, I got some toxin into a scratch on my foot. This led to a full blown systemic reaction of massive proportions. My body could not stop producing itchy bumps, even in places that never touched poison ivy. After two weeks of itching intense enough to nearly drive me mad, everything was only getting worse. The end result was 20 days on powerful steroids, along with antibiotics to fight a secondary infection that developed in the scratch.
This was going on literally at the exact same time we were trying to sell Laredo. I mean literally in the classical sense. As in, I was sitting on the table in Urgent Care getting my meds prescribed while texting with his buyer as she set out from Ohio with her horse trailer.
But it was fine. I recovered. Laredo shipped off to his new home. From the looks of things, he is happy there. We found and purchased Fitz. We had one great month. Then Fitz got a horrible case of rain rot. Which, all things considered, is not a terrible thing to deal with in terms of a new horse hiccup. However, it did mean we couldn’t ride him for a while.
Then, in December, I opted to take care of a small health concern that had been on my list for over a decade. It meant a minor surgery. This was not a big deal. But the recovery was rockier than expected. I thought I’d be back on a horse within a week. Instead, it was a month.
In our happy horse heyday, January of any given year would often see me setting some pretty ambitious goals. Ride for hundreds of hours. Start a horse. Buy or sell a project.
I do have big goals this year. But they are mostly related to other aspects of my life. For the horses, honestly, I am keeping my mindset almost as modest as can be. I have one goal, and one goal only.
Sometimes in the rockiness of the last few years, I can forget that I have horses because they make me happy. It’s easy to focus on milestones and outcomes, setbacks and progress.
This year, I want to shift my focus back to one simple truth. I love horses. They are wonderful and generous. Learning from them has enriched every other aspect of my life.
Steen is getting older. He’ll be 20 in the spring. Despite everything, we had some really great riding last year. Between the phases of upheaval, we had some solid chunks of time during which we were working a lot, thinking a lot, and finding new levels of softness and harmony. He is very, very dialed in right now. Which makes him a complete pleasure to ride. I want to keep him fit and healthy and tuned up as long as possible.
Then there is Fitz. Between the rain rot episode and our holidays travels, he’s had more time off than on the last three months. But I rode him last weekend. He was lovely. Yes, he’s four. He’s mega green. Still, I feel comfortable on him. I think he has a very forgiving personality. I can’t wait to see him really come into his own this year.
But I’m also prepared to be patient. We had a lot of years of high achievement and high investment. Then we had a lot of years of bad luck and problem-solving. With any luck, this can just be a simple year of gratitude and exploration.