March 18, 2013

Emotions and Horses

With all the talk about emotions affecting our riding lately, I got to thinking about how nice it is to have both a hobby that encourages the use and release of those tough feelings:

CrossFit Games Open Qualifier, Workout 13.1
And one that is sensitive to those feelings and doesn't like them:

"Hi guys!"

I left work today angry at a power-hungry user who questioned my authority on a simple thing, and copied my boss and his boss in his response, and the response itself made it seem as if I were a child needing to be reminded of my place.  I was in the right and both bosses backed me, but I was seething as I went to my CrossFit class - as a young woman in a man's field, nothing burns me more than not getting the respect I have earned from my own users.  I took it out on the rower, turning a 500m row into a PR, then on the barbell, setting a PR on the overhead squat, then on my workout, called "Annie", setting a massive PR over my time from 15 months ago.  In this case, my anger turned productive - barbells and rowers don't care whether you look like you want to rip them apart with your bare hands.

But if I had instead headed to the barn, my anger would have been counterproductive.  I can usually leave it at the barn door, but with death and other extreme emotions, you just can't do it.  Even if you're not consciously thinking about it, it's affecting your mind, the way your body moves, and your horse, both on the ground and in the saddle.  Grooming him might have improved my mood, but he also might have mistaken my tension for wariness and mirrored my mood, seeing lions around every corner and being feisty, causing me to lose it like I did when I rode him after Daniel died.

In summary, at least with Connor and I, he can't always be my emotional outlet.  Just like my dogs, he relies on me being emotionally even with consistent and predictable actions.  I can't explain to him that there aren't any lions, it's just that my friend died, I'll be fine and so will you.  He lives in the moment and can't rationalize.  While I know he will be there for me if I need a fuzzy pony neck to throw my arms around and sob, I also know that there are certain emotions, like anger, that don't belong around him, and I am beginning to learn my horse limits in grief.

I guess that's growing up.


  1. I have more than once made the decision either not to go to the barn, or to go to the barn but not ride after I've had a difficult day. Tris reads me too well, and my fuse is too short in both cases.

    Grief, though - he is the perfect height for me to cry on his shoulder, and he is an excellent listener. If I just sit in his stall and watch him it always helps soothe me.

  2. I know how that feels, when I've gone to the stables after bad news/a bad day, and am angry then I have such a bad time even though I thought I left it all behind I obviously didn't and Gatsby knows that. But then there's been dimes where I'm grieving and have just gone and talked to him or st with him and even though I haven't done anything productive with him he makes me feel a lot better.

  3. I agree 100%.

    Over last (perfect for riding) weekend, I had to resist the urge to ride. Hormonally challenged... was feeling less than stable with lots of mix-y emotions. ;D

  4. Girl I feel you! I work as a project manager in an IT company (very male driven).

  5. I'm glad I'm not the only one that feels that way. CFS, I was also hormonally challenged over the weekend. :)

    Karley, we are sisters in that! I am an IT systems administrator, first woman the department ever hired. I have so much fun with it, but occasionally you get the odd vendor or user who treats you like crap.

  6. Quite insightful. Thoughts on CrossFit? I know a lot of guys that do it but no gals.

  7. Yes, it's awesome and has helped my riding so much! Our gym is probably 40% women. It solves a lot of problems that normal exercise programs have, since you do all your workouts with other people in set class-times, so it's like you have a team, and your trainer tells you what to do every day and helps you with form. It's great for women, because it's not just lifting, it's also gymnastics and running and stuff. It also has really made a difference in my riding, which I blogged about a couple of years ago: I'm in even better shape now, and it continues to pay off in my riding, not just cardiovascularly. Feel free to shoot me an email at if you have any questions about it.

  8. I get the same way with work. On Monday I had a similar 'rawr' day, and headed to the barn... but I knew riding was not going to be productive so I just groomed and hung out with my horse. Maybe I need to try CrossFit to handle my rawr moments!