dressage · jerkbrain · stupid human tricks

Adult Camp at the Barn

I never really went to horse camp as a kid. Not in the budget, really. I always wanted to.

My barn has an adult camp twice a year – a dressage intensive for older women who come, board their horses with us, get lessons every day and watch the other lessons, get their rides videoed and then analyze the videos over wine, learn about riding to music, so on and so forth.
I have hangups sometimes about the fancy things at my barn, which is that I just ride my horse and I love my horse and if he ever sets foot in a competitive dressage ring again it will be a pleasant surprise.
And there are a LOT of very nice horses at this barn, and they are aimed at Grand Prix, and they are purpose-bred, and they have a lot of money in their blankets and their tack and their vet appointments.
To be clear, the trainer, barn manager, owners, everyone, are the loveliest people and would never, ever judge or treat me differently. They know how hard I work with Tristan, and they love Tristan for who he is, which is all I ever ask. He is valued as the babysitter, as the level-headed sweetheart that he is.
But then people arrive and I get a pang and I think, I would like to spend the whole week in the company of these women, riding my fancy horse and drinking wine together and laughing.

And then I think, I can’t afford it.
If I could afford it, my horse would not be up to it – not even sound, much less at the camp level.
If I could afford it and my horse were sound, I would never be able to get a whole week off.
And then? If all the stars lined up? I’d still feel the outsider. Which is all on me, for sure.
So this is always a weird week for me, of being the ghost around the edges. Last night I got there after it was all over and walked with Tristan up and down the hill, and chatted with the barn manager and another lesson kid, and marveled at the new fancy horses in the stalls.
I guess I don’t have a point to this post, except that incoherent yearning, sometimes. I adore my horse. I am happy with the path we have taken together (well, ok, I could’ve done with fewer vet bills, but you get the idea). I don’t have the drive, the money, the time to follow that other path.
But, still. Still.

8 thoughts on “Adult Camp at the Barn

  1. I think that's a pretty normal feeling. You love your horse and know what you want to do or what your goals are with him. That's what matters 🙂

    Less vet bills are always appreciated…

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  2. Ah… I've always wanted to go to Adult Camp and managed two early on in my career with Sugar – One was a complete disaster (broke my wrist on the first day) and the second was not much better. What I loved is the friendships that develop over the course of your time together. With that said, does take money and does take time… both seem in short supply these days. And, I would say that if you pick the right camp, you'll feel right at home!

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  3. this is one of the hardest aspects of horses – and so very often it can feel like a 'pay to play' scenario. who knows tho – your time at adult camp could very well still be in your future!

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  4. Yes and yes…I'm only 2yrs into this horse thing already see what you mean about the wistful longing to be a part of events that I can't quite afford yet and probably for sometime. Btw hope you don't mind a new reader and new blog follower (:

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  5. I want to say something profound and comforting, and I can't on account of being right there with you…

    Also nothing is forever. that is both encouragement and warning I guess.

    I'll just shut up now, K?

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