I have been struggling with the idea of doing endurance since I first laid eyes on Ashke. He was so emaciated and sick that I couldn't wrap my mind around the idea of him getting strong enough to ride for hours at a time. I thought that his demise was imminent if he wasn't given food immediately. It still surprises me that he is as healthy and filled out as he is at this point.
Why do I want to do Endurance? In part, I guess, because I felt like I needed a reason to get a horse. I mean it sounds so selfish to say, "I just want a horse" and put my family through the cost and effort of maintaining an animal that, let's be realistic, is nothing more than another expensive pet. Right? Regardless of the emotional satisfaction to be had in relationship with a horse, I really felt like I needed a job to go with it in order to justify my desire to be owned by a horse again.
That's why I focused on Endurance and this particular race:
I set goals: I'm going to ride the Tevis in 2015.
That statement right there became the reason for having a horse. My original plan was to get a horse in the fall and train it and begin riding distance immediately. HA! So, the horse came several months earlier than expected, and in much worse shape than I had planned on. My mind has been circling the concept that if I don't meet my goal, than how do I justify having a horse. My mind has also been struggling with the idea of not being able to do those kind of rides on a horse that has been almost completely destroyed. How long, in realistic terms, does it take to rehab a horse that was once in the shape Ashke was in? Google isn't really very helpful in answering that question. That question, in turn, led me to questioning why I was keeping a horse that might not be physically able to meet my above stated goal. What to do then? The goal was everything and I was aiming for it like an arrow shot into the sun. I've been driving myself crazy with this issue for three months now. (Short drive, I know.)
Last night, I had an epiphany. I needed to either make having a horse about the race mentioned above, or I needed to make having a horse about having Ashke. J said to me when I was struggling to put into words my messed up, twisted thoughts, that as long as I could ride him, could do something other than feed and pet him, that she was okay with us not doing a "job". She just didn't want him turning into the world's most expensive pet. I get that. Having a horse you don't ride kind of defeats the purpose (although that sentiment doesn't apply to a trusted companion that is no longer able to perform - end of life issue suck for all creatures). If having a horse is about the race, then I really should sell Ashke and start looking for an animal that can do what I want them to be able to do. One without the baggage, both physical and emotional, that this little grey horse brings with him.
The epiphany part of this diatribe came on my drive home, when I realized I don't have to have a goal or job set out for Ashke, other than he be sound and trained. I've been rushing, thinking I wasn't going to meet my goal, that we weren't going to be ready by 2015 to race the Tevis. I realized last night that I have something very special and I would rather keep Ashke, then run the race. It felt like a burden lifted and I was able to breathe deep and relax. I decided it had to be about the horse, not about the race.
That feeling was intensified after talking to J. She doesn't care what we do as long as I can ride him. No expensive pets for us. But also, maybe, no Tevis.