So, this happened today.
In the grand scheme of things, in life and in horses, of what could go wrong, it is a tiny, easily overcome thing, but still… I am a perfectionist. I just want to get to the results, and get the ugly process over with.
As a dancer, we are hard wired to be critical -self critical mostly- and diabolically focused towards goals. You are encouraged to relentlessly pursue excellence and perfection. It can manifest in different way in different people.
Some people become image obsessed. Instagram and blogs, they want everything to be grinning, polished, shiny, perfect, photoshopped, filtered, posed, positioned, prepared and performed.
– With each passing day I become less and less interested in image, unless its for my own sake. Though I indulge in instagram, I am not very good at it. My photos are usually grainy and poorly framed. If they look great its because whatever I shot is naturally astounding, not because I worked to get the perfect shot.
Some people become competitive. They strive, struggle, compare and undermine… they become jealous and both resent and admire those who have what they don’t, and through the seed of jealousy (or self loathing?) push and force themselves and others to achieve their goals.
I have never felt very competitive, never been interested in sport, because I hope we all make it! I am too busy trying to drive my own unwieldy vehicle of life, I don’t have time or energy to race against others.
But today we had Murphy’s law. In 24 Hours, Sanson’s paddock went from pastern deep mud to frozen sharp mud knives. At the same time, Sanson had his monthly foot trim appointment. Now, Spanish horses face formation challenges that Polish horses don’t, there are huge cultural differences in Spanish farriery. Number 1 being, stacked heels and hoof walls. I found a farrier locally who was educated in UK and comes seriously recommended, from people I know, love and trust. He struck blood on his right front, during the trim. And I did not discover it until much later. It explained why Sanson did not want to give me his feet this evening.
It is annoying but it also makes me consider things I have been putting off. 1) Time to finally bite the bullet and invest in good hoof boots to help with his transition to barefoot. 2) Time to finally have a vet come in and do radiographs on his feet. 3) Time to slow down and pace myself.
Dancers have a short career. Everything feels like it is on fast forward. 1 year can count as three when compared against normal career lengths, and it is hard to shake that habit that it needs to be done now or it might never happen… I probably never will shake the habit, but like a junky I need to remind self constantly, daily to pace myself.
But someone living alone, an expat, with three small pets, a horse, two full time jobs- one being self employment, a mortgage and a stack of recently bought yet ‘unread-because-I-have-not-had-the-time-yet’ books on my nightstand, it is hard to slow down. Because I have yet to find somebody who can keep up with me and go the distance like I do. Its not unusual for me to finish admin work at 2am. And drag my tired ass to work the next day, then head to stable, come home, cook, clean, eat, admin… and try and find time to shower, do laundry and relax for a moment without sleeping.
Life is not pretty. It is not a picture perfect postcard.
I have a beautiful horse, but what is the sense of only sharing the beautiful side of our story together? There is a whole lot of beauty in and around him. Sure, I got on a truck with him and drove across Europe for four days to bring him home. But nobody knows that I slept in the horse trailer, on top of straw bales, waking every 3 hours to give him soupy muesli. Nobody yet knows that when we stopped in Barcelona, in stifling muggy, Spanish heat, a stray German Shepard almost killed my little dog and I spent an hour MacGyver-ing a tail wrap out of my own t-shirt and baling twine I found in the hay storage because he was rubbing his tail raw on truck wall to stay road balanced during travel. I didn’t sing the wonders of how slept on a blow up mattress on the stable floor outside his stall that night, watching mouse sized winged stable cockroaches crawl over my legs, signalling my bigger dog to run off another stray dog that wandered into the stable at 2am, eyes glinting spookily in my head torch beam after stable lights got turned out… I didn’t want to leave Sanson’s side that night because I was afraid his ulcers would cause him to colic, and I wanted to be right there to inject him with life saving medicine, from the vet syringes in the little bag hanging from the stall grill above my head.
Life. Is. Not. Always. Pretty!
It is beautiful. But beauty means embracing everything that comes with it. The dark and the light.
It might be hippie new age psycho-babble, but yes, even when I picked his hoof today and saw blood on my hands, there was a kind of beauty in that. Beautiful that, I was lucky enough to have him here, the one here to see a problem first and the power and responsibility to deal with it, in my hands. And I like responsibility, a lot! Beautiful that it was dark and cold and quiet, and after protesting giving me his feet Sanson stood still and let me take it after I asked nicely, and let him know that I knew something was wrong. There is definitely beauty in that.
Beauty- for me- means embracing all facets of a thing. No matter what that thing may be.
And I embrace this first bloody hoof hurdle with Sanson. Life threw me a challenge. And somebody I love once taught me that only the best students get the hardest lessons.