Today was another cold bright day. Low of 23F and the high just creeping past 40. The ice we've broken on the water troughs and tossed aside each of the past mornings doesn't melt; the pile of broken shards just grows taller. Much of the ice on the grass and in frozen puddles isn't melting either. The arena sand is as hard as cement. And the sun isn't warm enough to dry anything that does melt. The ground is a soggy, frozen mess.
I suppose I could have ridden Lucy today. But I didn't want to ride her on the frozen sand and, to be honest, it was just too darn cold to be appealing. My competitive drive has gone into hibernation; perhaps permanently. And the weird thing is, I'm okay with that. Maybe it's our climate, maybe it's my job, maybe it's my age. Most likely, it is a combination of all three.
When we were living in Southern California, I worked from home two or three days a week. The nights were often cold in the winter, but the days were almost always comfortable. It was unusual for ice not to melt. I rode 4-5 times per week, year 'round. The arena might be frozen in the morning, but it would be soft by mid-day and I could ride on my lunch. In the summer, I rode before work -- shifting my hours so that I arrived in the office (on the days I went in) at 10am. From the standpoint of having time to train my horse, my job was perfect. But I wasn't happy at work. I was bored and I didn't like the direction the organization was headed. I needed to make a change.
Now, I am at my desk (almost an hour away) by 8am. In the summer, when I get home there is enough light left to help Brett with chores. In the winter, it is dark when I pull in the driveway at 6pm. The job is very interesting, very challenging, and I am far from bored. I am often tired and occasionally stressed -- but, overall, I am happy with the change. However, it is impossible to ride during the week. The weekends are available -- weather permitting. The weather did not cooperate in December; we had rain every weekend. I didn't ride once.
The funny thing is, I'm okay with that. The part of my psyche that pushed me into the barn every day, come hell or high water, has melted into something softer. I still need to spend time with Lucy and Jackson but I don't need to be riding -- and if I'm riding, I don't need to be constantly pushing for the next level.
Don't get me wrong. Riding correctly is still incredibly important to me. I still would rather be in the arena, riding Lucy in a balanced, fluid and soft canter than anything else. Lucy and I communicate beautifully. We make each other happy. I want her to last for many more years. Lucy has a history of joint issues from her years as a jumper. My plan is to let her be a muddy princess in the pasture this winter, with no shoes and no demands other than an easy ride on occasion. She can rest her joints so she is strong in the spring.
In 2015, I anticipate riding regularly in the spring and fall. I'm not going to stress about it in the winter or summer. I'm going to let it be.