Unemployment, Deployment, and Dressage

A lot has happened since my last bit of noise. Among other things, I have been to another horse show and officially joined the ranks of the unemployed. The reason I link these two particular events is that, unlike some folks, I have to have gainful employment in order to support my equine habit. I also like finding connections between seemingly disparate things. It is one of life’s great ironies that I have always craved the time to train myself and my horses on a more serious level, but have always had to work. Now I have the time, but… see where this is going?

Last weekend’s show was what is known as a schooling show. In dressage that means you don’t have to put on the coat and the tidy whities, and you don’t have to braid your horse’s mane. I did anyway just because there is always a lot of down time at shows.

It’s all about the hair!

I did reasonably well considering that  my ribs are still quite sore from that fall (see previous post “Well, I Never!”). At Training Level Test 2, we got a 66.8%. There was a time when I would have been ecstatic with that score. Now I know just enough to be able to beat myself up for the pilot errors and to know just what the judge was talking about when she said “ride with brilliance!” I was trying to draw a deep breath and be better than average. That is not an excuse, just an explanation.

My trainer rode my horse at Training Level Test 3. She was brilliant, even if my young horse was trying his best to take a nap. She and horsey got an 8.5 (out of 10) on one canter pass, and she did ride brilliantly. The judge said so! She pretty much does that on any horse she gets on though. Definitely one to listen to and emulate.

So, while I try to figure out how to further my dressage career, such as it is, I also have to figure out what I am going to be when I grow up… again. Last time I checked, training of any kind for me or my horse was not free.

Being unemployed also gives one considerable down time. Another dilemma. Do I spend more money to get more training to get another job, or do I continue to spend money that will soon run out to chase the dressage dream? I point to more job training (back to school?) for me because there aren’t a whole lot of jobs out there for what I do.

I’m reaching deep into the internal blogosphere for this one, but like the Grinch, my puzzler is sore. My attitude could also use an adjustment.

Just do it!

Did I mention that I could return to my old job, sort of?  In order to do so, I  would have to apply to a contractor,  and then go through the training that I have been delivering for the past year. This applies to all of us who got let go. Put another way,  I would have to re-enter government employment at a lower status that that which I previously held and sit through training for a job that I have successfully trained for, done, and trained others to do. Even got a meritorious service award.

In dressage the only time there are mandatory do-overs is when you or the horse has been injured or you have to start all over with a new horse. I’ve had to do that three times! We expect setbacks in the horse world, and my story is far from unusual or even exceptional. It certainly isn’t tragic. It doesn’t give me a bad attitude to see others have better “luck,” even those people who seem to have more than their share of fortune’s favors.  I’ve had some pretty good breaks, help from friends, a great trainer, and have gotten some pretty decent scores in the dressage arena,  and am looking forward to more of the same. That said, we have a saying: Ride the horse that gets off the trailer!

So why do I feel like I have been kicked upside the head (or maybe in the gut)? I think it’s time for me to saddle up and get over myself again. My favorite attitude adjustment ever is waiting for me out by the gate. It won’t be the first time I’ve ridden of into the general direction of the sunset without an actual plan.


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