While I was on my marathon week of campus tours in Indiana, followed immediately by a flight to Connecticut to attend the wedding of a friend, my longtime competition partner Ricochet (of whom I have frequently written) enjoyed a week of turnout and rest – and tore the suspensory ligament in his right front leg.
(There’s a reason his nickname is “Captain Clumsy Feet.”)
Rico and I are fortunate to work closely with a top vet in our area, however, and treatment is going well. We should be able to resume our training regime later this fall and continue our climb to Grand Prix. Unfortunately, this setback canceled our competitive plans for this season (good-bye, USDF Nationals!) and means the next time we canter down centerline, Rico will be seventeen – not ancient by dressage standards, but not young either. It looks like I need to find a young prospect if I want to continue my journey as a rider uninterrupted.
So I’ve used Rico’s hiatus to go horse shopping – and for the record, I hate horse shopping.
It’s not the poring over videos online (I could do that all day) or researching pedigrees and show results – nor is it the money spent (though I do hate to part with it). Nope – it’s the visit to the farm to meet the horse that I absolutely loathe.
Why is that?
Flashback: It’s August, 1999, my worldly possessions are packed, I’m moving into my freshman dorm in a matter of days – and I am miserable. I attended the same school throughout all of elementary, middle, and high school. My best friend has been my best friend since third grade and the group we run around with has been together since fourth. Because we’ve all selected different colleges, however, we’re about to be thrown into environments where we need to make new friends.
A natural introvert, my eighteen-year-old self resents the fact that, having cultivated my comfortable, existing friendships for so long, I’m now being forced to make new ones. I like the friends I have – I don’t want new ones!
Making new friends as an adult (or near adult) is different than making new friends as a kid; a lot more factors come into play and it’s far more work than those blissful early days of “Can I borrow your red crayon?” You have a lot better sense of the type of person you get along with and what type of person you don’t get along with.
By that same token, buying a new horse is far more work when you’re an experienced rider and you know what traits you want and what type of horse you prefer. In shopping for a young horse, I’m trying to find something with the potential to be with me for its entire career, from Training Level all the way through FEI – so at the very least, we better be compatible!
If you’re a student headed off to college this week or next, there’s a life lesson to be had in this and here it is:
Unlike eighteen-year-old me heading off to college, grownup me on this horse shopping adventure knows that, in the end, everything will turn out all right. College was a wonderful experience and I made a lot of very close friends (one whose wedding I attended while my horse lamed himself) while those old friends from high school have largely fallen out of touch. (My third grade best friend is still my best friend, though – some things do last a lifetime!)
So students, as you pack up your possessions and prepare to make “the big move,” take heart in knowing that the awkwardness of the first few weeks isn’t permanent. It takes time to get to know a new place and new people – just as it takes time to get to know a new horse. But after a while, it starts to feel just like home and you’ll be amazed at the ways in which you’ll change and grow as a result.
I’ll try to remind myself of that fact as I continue on my quest as well. That new horse is out there somewhere…
(Can I help you find your next school and some new friends? Contact me today.)