All I Want for Christmas….. Is a Sound Horse….

It’s been a little while since my last blog post and a lot has happened since then – some of it good, some of it not so good.

In general I like to think that I’m a lucky person; I was born in a country free of civil war and have been in a position to get a good education and work to now have a nice house, some land for the horses, etc. I am also blessed with a very understanding other half.   Most people would think that my situation is a good one to be in and indeed they’d probably be right.

However, I can assure you that none of that means anything when you’re holding your horse, cut and bleeding from an accident that really wasn’t your fault, as you wait and hope against hope that the vet will arrive quickly and no permanent damage has been done; or when your vet tells you that your horse has suspensory damage likely to render them a field ornament; or, as tends to be inevitable, when you make “that” call to the vet. I assure you, when that stuff is going on, I don’t feel very lucky at all. Who would?

The thing about horses is that, much like any good drug, they can leave you high as a kite one day and the next day you can be wallowing in despair.

I have had some really good moments in 2015. After something of a dodgy start, Buffy seems to have finally decided that she is up for this eventing lark and she completed her last event of the season in good style. I have also now completed my 5th clinic with Philippe Karl and much to my delight, when I asked PK the question that I have been hiding from “Monsieur, are you happy that Buffy is the right horse to carry on with through the course and that she has the capability to come to the level you want her to”, the answer from PK was a clear “Yes!”. Considering I took Buffy on as a bit of a punt, knowing that she has Kissing Spines, you can imagine that on hearing this view from Monsieur I felt pretty happy.

However, coming towards the end of 2015 I find myself to be struggling. Doris, my lovely 6 year old, the one that should have been able to jump the moon for me, the one I have had since a yearling and who I have already patiently nursed through a large fireworks related accident, has hind suspensory ligament damage. Her future as my superstar event horse now has a serious question mark over it and only time will tell if she will come right (though in the meantime she does make an exceedingly pretty field ornament). To say I am gutted is an understatement.

Nothing knows how to break your heart like a horse does.

So why do we do it? Why do we allow our hearts to be so readily broken (not to mention sometimes also our bodies) by these beautiful creatures?

I have been asking myself this a lot lately. The thing is, to get anywhere in eventing, or indeed even to successfully complete the Philippe Karl course and ultimately pass his teacher training exams, you need to want it. You need to be hungry to be out there riding and mucking out every day when everyone else is either in bed still, or they’re already snuggled up in front of the telly with a glass of wine. You need to lust for it.

It’s pretty hard to still keep that passion burning in you when the flames are so readily quenched by your own tears from the heartbreak of another horse with soundness issues.

So then what you are left with is a choice.

Do you choose to let your passion fade and die? Or do you find a way to stoke the fire and carry on?

Some might argue that passion is just that – it’s passion. A feeling. An emotion. How can it be a choice? I disagree.

We can let life – and our life choices – strangle our passions and tell ourselves that in fact our passions really aren’t that important as after all; life is tough sometimes and it’s better to be easy on ourselves, or perhaps we must turn to other priorities. Or maybe we can even avoid telling ourselves that we are letting our passions slip into oblivion and instead just tell ourselves that we’ll come back to them later …… except of course later never really comes.

Or we can actively decide that our passions are worth it. Do what it takes to stoke the fire. I’ve never yet read a book about someone performing a great challenge who didn’t at some point question whether they can go on. Climbing Everest is never easy. But who wants to be the one that got part of the way there but never managed to make it to the top?

So I’ve given myself a suitable kick in the backside and reminded myself that I just simply couldn’t bear to reach an age that I was too old or too broken to ride any more and wonder “if only”. “If only” I might have kept my dreams, what might I have achieved?

For me, stoking the fire has included:

  • Planning out my 2016 schedule of horse training (lessons/ clinics/ competitions, etc) – with my remaining sound horses!
  • Making sure I remember to do the fun stuff (dates to go Bloodhounding now diarised – and looking forward to going out on Boxing Day!)
  • Finding inspirational books to read
  • Watching on You Tube the eventers and also the classical dressage riders I admire and wish to emulate.
  • Getting out there and still riding my horses!


So, onward and upward for 2016. Maybe there will still be times that all I can manage to do is Keep Buggering On (thanks Churchill) and yes I’ll need to keep working to take the lows as well as the highs, but hey, I never did like knitting!


“Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.” – Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

CC1_4192_Class 2 - Cross Country - Camera 2

3 thoughts on “All I Want for Christmas….. Is a Sound Horse….

  1. Anita Quigley December 24, 2015 / 7:21 am

    So sorry to hear about Doris. I know what it is like to have a beautiful talented horse consigned to the scrap heap. Is the problem congenital – is it worth considering breeding from her? And really pleased to hear PK’s opinion about Duffy – though I think you were the only one who had any doubts about her and you. Have a great Christmas and onwards and upwards in 2016. Look forward to seeing you again in March! xx

    • janetpaterson December 24, 2015 / 8:45 am

      Thanks Anita…… The risk of it being genetic can’t be ruled out at the moment so I can’t risk breeding 😦

      Very pleased about Buff though so now I just need to do my homework for the next clinic! – looking forward to seeing you there. X

  2. orchardfm December 24, 2015 / 9:07 am

    I just cried my way through much of this. Sorry to read of your struggles this year. Since losing my horse a few months back I have been questioning my passion.
    It seems to be rekindling but it’s hard going through the soul searching.
    I am glad yours is still alive and well. Keep nurturing it. x

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