The Old Grey Mare

Recently, someone asked if my meltdown with saddle seat riding [Sine Die, Pondering] might be related to menopause. I know one reader has had this issue (waves hi), wherein doubt takes over from certainty. A legitimate question. I’m gonna say no.

I’ve always been a weenie about riding. Some days, with some horses, when the planets align, I can gallop my fool head off. After one Academy Driving class with Big [Show Photos], Miss Courtney had to remind me, ‘This is not a chariot race.’ Other days, not so much brio.

I’ve never been much of a hormone storm. Of course, I can get cranky and bitchy and unpleasant, but it tends to be in reaction to what I think rather than what is happening physically. Either I have a low hormone level or am so emotionally repressed that the hormonal response is squashed along with everything else. I’ve always lived too much in my head.

Or I could be deluded. I’ve known more than one person to say, “I am X.”, to which my unspoken response is ‘Really? Seriously? That’s how you see yourself? Yowzah.’

Or I could simply be alone too much. No deep psychological problems; rather a lack of contact with the outside world. (Which is one reason I talk to you every day.) Work at home. Horses at home. Surrounded by neighbors who see the world differently than I do. In absence of external data, my over-active brain feeds on itself.

If there is a problem, I think it is more mid-life crisis than menopause. I’m almost 55. What do I have to show for it? Even if I spot myself the first 20+ years, that’s three decades of adulthood: frantic activity, good times, but no big-ticket milestones. No one thing that I can point to and say, There, that’s what I did with my life so far.

I chose not to raise a family. My career never took off. Ditto my hobby. I don’t have an advanced degree. I have not immersed myself in art or charity. Yes, I have a long, wonderful marriage, but that speaks more to my winning the husband stakes than to my stellar qualifications as a wife. My life has been a string of amazing opportunities. My follow-through has been less impressive.

Yes, I should look forward to the next 20 years (1? 40? Who knows?) instead of looking back over the last 40. When I figure out how to do this, I’ll let you know.

What does this have to do with horses? The realization that you are not the person you though you were. You still feel as you did, but results do not support your inflated opinion of yourself.

And then, of course, the guilt [A Look Inside My Head]. Always the guilt.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

9 thoughts on “The Old Grey Mare

  1. Yer singing my song, girl. No family (choice) Career finished at 40. (Disability) Few hobbies that last anymore. The few friends I have are all relocating (retirement). Long-lasting marriage to someone who has always been the easiest person in the world to live with.

    I go back and forth weekly about my ‘commitment’ to riding and I don’t even have goals like showing, eventing, exhibiting, etc. I just want to be a good (make that a great) rider and I want that perfect harmony. Why? I don’t have the foggiest clue. Maybe because I had that once before? I don’t know. Some weeks (months, even) I work and work and work at it. But when it doesn’t happen, hasn’t happened in the last seven years, the doubt creeps in. The ‘not good enough’ overwhelms me. Daily I see evidence of horses much younger, horses one would think have much less ability doing things that are so far out of our reach that it sucks the enthusiasm right out of me. I can make excuses (weather, opportunity to ride/train consistently, lack of tools, skills, health, youth … whatever), but the truth is it’s not happening. At least not the way I’d pictured.

    I sometimes I wonder if there’s a down side to using mental imagery with our horse? Am I being unrealistic? I didn’t think so for a long time. I was patient. Very patient. But when do I get to feel like we’ve made progress? (We have. I know we have. It’s just not progress doing the kinds of things I thought we’d be doing by now) Last horse came trained. I added some finishing touches and honest to God, we enjoyed every single ride from then on and we were poetry in motion. This horse? No. So. Much. Less training upon arrival, but certainly not clueless. I thought I had this, but I have never worked so hard, been so determined and clear about our goals, yet so incapable of reaching them. Even with professional help. It seems like the more I learn & know the less we progress, if that’s even possible. Sometimes I have to remind myself I’m enjoying the journey, but I doubt that too. It’s work. It’s hard. The payback? Mostly, I’m not feelin’ it. Don’t know if that’s because I’m too critical, too unrealistic, my expectations are too high or I’m just not being patient enough, but at the end of the day the doubt causes conflict and very little encouragement to keep pressing forward.

    Yup, I feel your pain.

    1. You both have good marriages. You can ride. You have the wherewithal to keep your own horses. Sounds like blessings to me. I’m not trying to be bitchy, really, I won’t bore you with details but suffering from depression and other mental/physical disabilities, the knowledge that all I have is my little service dog and that I will die alone sometimes weighs heavily on me.

  2. Do not discount the work of a marriage. It is work and very worthwhile work. You two are a great team and that’s no small thing.

    Alone time needs are different for each of us. It appears you need less than you have. How to change that? Your geography makes it difficult but I think you might focus on being with people more.

    Your parents were both “head” people, especially your father so your genes are there.

    Mid-life crisis may be overrated but it is a reality for some people.

    Geography, genes, age. Hard to change the first but impossible to budge the other two.

    You have a challenge. You are smart. You are a worker. I am interested in how you manage to change your life so it suits you better.

    You have my best wishes.

  3. denandtoby: I think everyone’s mind is scary. To some extent.
    rontuaru: I wish I had an answer for both of us.
    Louise: “… impossible to budge the other two.” Got that right. We’ll see.

  4. I love your honesty. I think we all have had this blog in our head from one time or another.

    Happy Riding & Keep Smiling

    Mel x

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