|January 12, 2015||Posted by Melinda under Equine Endurance, Most Popular|
Sometime in high school (I think) I started working on a cross-stitch project.
A LONG time later (umm…maybe 15 years or so?) this is what it looked like:
Half finished, even though there was some concentrated, big (sporadic) pushes over the years.
With national boards behind me and more downtime on my hands I’ve been pulling out old half-finished projects and giving them another go. Having made a zillion baby socks for Funder, I was bored of knitting and I settled into my recliner determined to get some significant progress done on this thing
Twenty stitches later I had an epiphany.
I got exactly zero enjoyment working on this project with the blah greys and browns. It was tedious. I had been gritting my teeth for 15 years trying to get this project done. The juxtaposition against the recent countless, satisfying hours of knitting was striking.
My first instinct was to grit my teeth and just do it.
After all, I finish what I start.
Or, at least I used to.
I’ve changed in the fifteen years since I started this. I don’t always finish what I don’t enjoy. Sometimes I quit. Sometimes I ignore all the work/time/money that has gone into something and cut my losses and say adious.
“Fine”, the little voice in my brain said “put it away and maybe later you will be in the right mood….”
I squashed that little voice with the biggest hammer I could find and made a decision.
Life is too short. The cross-stitch had to go.
Should I use it as target practice?
The more mature side of me (yes, I have one occasionally) offered it to my artsy-crafty sister in case she wanted to try her hand at it.
Giving up on an unfinished project is hard, whether it’s a horse or a cross-stitch project.
When do you call it quits? When do you work through it because it makes you a better, more humble person? When is it YOU and not the horse?
This post is now available in “Go Ride Far.”
“Go Ride Far” is a collection of revised and updated posts, as well as new content that focuses on what I wish I had known prior to my first endurance ride. (original release details here)
For the price of the fru-fru coffee ($3.99) the ebook covers:
- How to easily and intuitively back a trailer
- Take control of your conditioning and training
- Recognize and fix a “bonk”
- The never before told story of Dr. Mel’s first endurance ride
…and more from the running, riding, writing veterinarian and Singletrack Press!
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You bet! Move on! Cork used to do that with books. (I started it, by golly, I’m going to finish it!) it was satisfying last night to see him get to his 50-80 page mark in a book and say “nah, not worth the time.”
I thought maybe you were going to continue the wolf stitching…with some crazy colors! Just move on, but if you can find someone who’d like to finish it, that’s even better. But horses, that’s hard. I’ve seen all sides: someone work through a difficult horse that took a long time and end up with a great partner, someone give up too early on a challenging prospect, and someone stick with a bad horse for far too long. I have not had to do that, but I can see how hard it would be.
Which is why I felt so complimented the other day when a friend told me that me and Major were just perfect together. He might drive me crazy, but I think she’s right.
And I give up on books now. For years I never did. Now, a few chapters, I’ll put it down. I’ll usually try again. but if it doesn’t hook me, life’s too short and there are too many good books out there.
Life would be better if there were crystal balls. Just sayin’
yeah, my magic 8 ball just isn’t working so well…
I thought she’d continue the wolf stitching…in orange and blue and purple and green!
And yes, when you get a good combo, it’s kinda awesome. The three horses I’ve spent most of my life with (Story, Toad and the Dragon) were VERY different from each other. Certainly not the case of the rider (me) re-creating problems over and over again. Nuh-huh. I make ALL NEW PROBLEMS EVERY TIME!
I guess that’s good?
Also: Nancy Pearl, she who must be obeyed in regards to all things bookish, says that you should read as many pages as you are years old before giving up. 3rd graders only need read 8 pages; I gotta slog through 50. It seems like a reasonable system, for anyone seeking a reasonable system.
Nice post. I learned a long time ago that sometimes horses need to move on. My father was a horse trader and I rode a LOT of horses, so I learnt quite early what I “clicked” with and what I didn’t. I have only given up on one horse as an adult and honestly, it wasn’t that hard a decision. And the next horse I bought after that was Joe…
Funnily enough, it has taken me longer to apply that to cross stitching…! But now I am going to go home and throw that damn Winnie the Pooh alphabet sampler in the bin, and go back to stitching frogs!
GREAT post. I’ve just been talking another friend through potentially breaking up with her horse and it’s amazing how much guilt we can harbor *on our own* without other friends/family/fellow boarders/trainers etc chiming in. I also agree that it’s nearly invaluable to have some clever, worldly, if not entirely sane folks to consult with 😉
There’s this other delicately balanced piece of that Me or the Horse, the time spent..that is, so many people waste way too much time, *but* I’m seeing something else in the last little while too, people mostly new to the sport giving up on horses before their time, thinking that a few rides or a season should give them a perfect endurance horse (especially when folks are using LDs as endurance in their brains, I have been guilty of doing it as far as as identification of myself as an endurance rider before doing the true endurance distance..BUT people riding LDs and then worrying horses won’t be endurance horses…well, you haven’t even DONE endurance yet and bunches of LDs don’t do tons of favors for new to the sport horse brains..SO..). Again that’s a hard one because some horses have enough strikes against already or revealed just by doing the LDs, but I think you get my point.
your comment made a lot of sense.I agree although I think it’s about 50 50 whether or not a green bean falls into the completely wrong horse category or the one that fits the dressage curmudgeon quote of rarely does a new horse mean a happily ever after.
coming from a different perspective, i always cringe a little when i read blogs like this. I’m obviously not good at taking the well-meaning advice i’ve received in the past. I was told to “get rid of that horse before you get really hurt”- and my reply was “Who’s going to want a horse that seems to be trying to kill you?” “ummm- exactly!” After the first BIG step of having the “brain surgery”, it took a year or two but i had a fun and always challenging ride. Damn, he was fast! (And- gorgeous.)
And now….the little grey mare. Where, on the scale of “rehome this one and get another, safer one” do you place a mare who’s way too often NOT FUN to ride during conditioning, but turns in a stellar performance during competition? Who camps like a dream. Trailers quietly. Isn’t mare-ish – at a competition, anyway.
And there’s *my* age…. truth be told, i don’t *want* to start over with another horse. I’ve done that, more than once, and now, on retirement income, the expense and energy for maintaining a second horse are limiting factors….
My hope now is that these months of rehab will give us a different appreciation of each other, and of course i desperately hope we get to see the endurance trails again. If she doesn’t come back sound, i *may* have yet another perspective, but for now, despite the quirks and spins and occasions of testing my bone density without the benefit of medical technology, the plan is to carry on. Because she IS fun, she IS (mostly) sweet, she IS the right size, and because she IS …mine.
Nikki – this post is mostly directed to people who are either holding onto unsuitable horses (which as you point out, willow has qualities that you value, so she doesn’t necessarily fall into that category), or people who are going through horses like candy and having trouble finding a good fit – which you are not doing.
And I’m not talking about never putting time into a difficult horse. I’ve done it and it’s really rewarding. And sounds like you’ve had a similar experience (why is it always the gorgeous ones that are a bit “off”?)
And I’m not talking about accepting quirks in an otherwise talented horse. It’s up to individual people to decide what they are willing to live with. Farley is awesome but there are things she does that other people might find an absolute deal breaker.
So don’t worry! I iddn’t write this post with you in mind! Or anyone actually. It’s been in my drafts for a while and articles would pop up that I thought were though provoking and I wrote a post without anyone specific in mind.
Hey Mel! I didn’t feel like this was directed *at* me…. I’ve seen this come up in the past, on other
blogs, and just wanted to add, rather literally!, a “devil’s advocate” perspective. Sometimes
there are reasons people make choices that aren’t initially obvious to others. Been guilty myself
of wondering “What were you thinking??” regarding some decisions made. And- i no longer
force myself to finish books that haven’t grabbed me. 😉 I like Aarene/Nancy’s formula!!
Whew. I felt really bad that you thought it was directed at you. :).
nope, i’m not that sensitive! And, i promise i’ll stop, but not to belabor the point, i think as i’ve gotten older, i appreciate the intrinsic value of the known quantity. There are aspects of Willow’s behavior that frustrate me no end, and have brought me to tears on more than one occasion. But- i have an idea of what to expect, and can/should prepare and ride accordingly.
Knowing that every horse- and human!- has *some* faults, I choose to not want to discover new ones with a new horse- which could be worse than what i am already familiar with. And being more likely than many to have fewer years left to love riding, I hope to continue to see the trail between those fuzzy white ears… AKA the navigational beacons.
(I think i’m done now…;) )
I’ve learned over the years to pick my craft projects very carefully for exactly that reason: I can’t stand giving up on them, but ugh, the ones that sit on the shelf for years…! There is a point in every single crochet project in which I hate crocheting, yarn, sheep, and the whole world, but I’ve learned that once I push past that the back half is twice as fast.
Some years ago, some well-meaning friends tried to convince me to sell Tristan. He has never been a horse that would make a good landing with someone else. He is not an easy horse, but nor is he a conventionally difficult horse. He is not a marvelously talented horse. He is not overly athletic. He has a wonderful steady brain, a sweet personality, and is as dependable as the day is long. They were, in a way, correct: if I had a more athletic, easier horse I could go further & faster in eventing. I’d probably enjoy my rides together.
I had to make the decision at that point which was more important to me: my relationship with this particular horse, or my overall enjoyment (in the short term anyway) of horse sport? I chose Tristan, and I have never for a split second regretted it. We’ve done what we can, and I still love him dearly.
Sometimes people make a different call, based on different factors. There’s nothing wrong with that, and many times it’s the better choice logically. But I think a lot of people underestimate the deep and complicated nature of a relationship with a horse, and how many layers there are to think about when you make your decisions.
Anyway, that was a rambly way of saying I agree with you, and think it’s a tough issue that people need to think about more honestly!
One of your best posts. Better to learn early when to give up on anything than to waste valuable time being miserable.