This post may be a little off topic, and will almost definitely be rambling, but I've got lots of stuff swirling around in my brain and it needs a place to go. I figure stuff out when I'm riding, or by putting things in horse terms, so bear with me here.
The last time I rode Tucker I set up three little cavaletti on the center line, one at each end of the ring, and one in the middle, and worked on figure-eighting over them at the walk, trot, and canter. At the walk I worked on keeping him coming forward and bending correctly without leaning on the inside rein or bulging through his shoulder, pushing his inside hind underneath him. Then at the trot we worked on the same things, and getting a steady rhythm, and paying attention to what's in front of us (ahem) instead of what is outside the door. The real success was at the canter though, when he was able to either switch his lead over the center cavaletti or canter one stride and then smoothly do his lead change, and all I had to do was change the bend in order to accomplish this. It was one of those rides where I felt elated, and Tucker was clearly pleased with himself. One of my favorite things about this horse is that he knows when he did a good job, and it puts him in a good mood. As we were cooling out I said to him, "These changes are just getting easier and easier for us huh?"
Right now, I'm hoping that applies to my life as well as my horse's canter leads. I've been thinking a lot lately about how my whole life I have been working toward being "the best." All through school, I was laser-focused on getting the best possible grades, to set me up for the next step. In grammar school, I was working on getting really good grades so I could get a scholarship to boarding school. Accomplished that, and then it was studying hard and taking AP classes so I could get into a good college. Did that, and then I repeated the same pattern so I could get into a good law school. Once I was in law school, it was work-work-work so I could get a spot on the Law Review, and the Moot Court team, and build up an impressive resume so that I could get a job at a top litigation firm. Are you exhuasted yet? Because I am.
The trouble is, at the end of all this herding or funnelling toward the top, I've realized that the work at these top firms isn't really for me (which by the way was a shocking revalation that took me months to come to grips with), and now I'm trying to figure out what my next step should be so that some of the things I love about the law, the things I'm passionate about, can become part of what I do for a living. I'm not quite ready to find a whole new career, but I need to do something different. As I mentioned in my prior post, I want the rest of my life to start matching up with my horse life. I need to be content with my whole day. Granted, they don't call it "work" for nothing, and some days will be better than others no matter what your job is. But I don't want to dread going to work, and I want to stop feeling like I'm "stuck" doing something I don't like at the end of all those years of hard work to get there.
I've never been great with change, but I'm hoping that at this stage in my life it will be a little little less nerve-wracking. Finding a new position will probably mean that many things have to change, and I'm preparing myself. I'll most likely be moving, I'll have a different routine, and sadly, it is probably time to cull the herd down to one horse. So Julie's officially listed for sale again, as much as it pains me to do it because she's going so well. (So blogger friends, you've all seen Julie grow from an opinionated little yearling to a lovely well-mannered mare, and if you know of anyone who is looking for a young prospect, feel free to send them my way.) Part of knowing that I need to do something different means (I think) that I'll no longer be in a position to support two horses, especially two horses that are in training, and eventually actively competing. I suppose you never really know though, and if she doesn't sell then maybe I'm not meant to part with her yet, but I think at this point that it's for the best to see if I can find her a new home.
Tucker took several years before his changes were smooth, and we're still working on them. I've gone through lots of changes myself in the past year or so, and now I'm working on doing it smoothly. Probably the reason that Tucker is so well-adjusted is that he wasn't pushed to be the best he can be as early as possible, but instead we took it slow, let him grow into himself, and made sure that he was always very confident in what he was doing. I'm trying to give myself the same level of care right now, even though, to put things in horse terms, I had a much more rigorous training program when I was younger. I'm learning to be flexible, to consider all my options (not just the most elite choices), to keep myself from feeling "trapped." I think the right opportunity is out there for me, and I think I'm ready to find it. Kind of like, once he was ready (balanced enough, strong enough, confident enough), Tucker found his lead change.
See how it helps to put things in horse language? Always helps me figure life out.