A few days ago, though, I saw a pretty powerful post by a gentleman named Bruce Weary. In part, he wrote,
Ah. The dreaded non-completion. It seems that in some things in life we'd rather not proceed if there is a significant chance of failure. Well, in endurance riding, we fail. A lot, sometimes. In saddle fit. In overzealous conditioning. In falling off a horse. Or in a wrong feeding/electrolyting program. In riding too fast. In riding too slow. The list goes on. At some point, IMO, we have to visualize these things happening to us, and how we would deal with them, so we can put them away and not worry so much about them. Life is inherently risky. I think it's also important to de-emphasize the disappointment in pulling or being pulled from a ride. It takes mental effort, but I think it's important to decide to no longer let the possibility of not completing a ride be a reason for not stepping up to the starting line of whatever ride you've been dreaming of, whether that be your first LD, 50, multi-day, or Tevis.
I failed six times in a row in my first attempts at finishing Tevis. I got sick twice, and had a pretty sick horse there once. My mentor taught me to get comfortable with failure and making mistakes in life, because I would see a lot of both of them, so I never took my initial lack of success at Tevis personally. A horse named John Henry decided he was tough enough for both of us, so he dragged my whining carcass to the finish line, finally. All those failures made that one success that much sweeter.
So, saddle up. Heaven helps the man or woman who help themselves.This post meant a lot to me because I have definitely felt like I'm becoming an expert in how not to finish an endurance ride. And mostly I'm OK with that, because I've never pinned my self-esteem on completing a ride and success for me means keeping my horse safe and sound above all else. But, I think Mr. Weary's point about failure being so much a part of the endurance journey is an important one for me to remember. And it doesn't just apply to endurance; it applies to everything about working with horses and I guess, if you want to get philosophical (which I am prone to doing after 9 pm), life itself.
So, getting comfortable with failure is going to be one of my goals for the coming year. I'm still not sure what the plan is for next year beyond an intro ride at the beginning of March, but I am sure that I will wrestle with as yet unknown issues, and this post is going to be my mantra during those times, so I can keep my bearings and remember to move forward.