At many times I have questioned whether I should replace Tag for an easier model – and some still think I should. But after four years, a lot of the guess work has gone out of having Tag as part of the family. And although it would definitely be boring without any more surprises, I feel that we have covered a lot of the potential reactions to different situations and there is a certain comfort that comes from reaching that stage.
When you ride horses, it’s a good idea to ride someone else’s horse, just to feel the relief of getting back on to your own horse, that is more familiar – even if your horse isn’t an easier ride. Someone said after they had ridden Tag and then I got onto him, that he knows when his ‘Mum’ is on board and to a point when you re-train a horse, or bring on a young horse that is very true – when you programme the computer, you always know which buttons to press and when the next spook might be coming. But some times my theories on this are challenged. And just when I think I know myself, my horse, my children all very well, I get a very uneasy feeling that I am only kidding myself.
I’ve just had a week like this. I woke up one morning feeling like I was nervous about something, like that new job feeling. It was all a bit unsettling. I knew there were things I was worried about, there always are, for everyone, but this was a cold sweat, pit of the stomach, tossing and turning, kind of feeling, that would not be shaken. I checked bills, went through emails, confirmed bookings and re-read school notes, but to no avail, the gnawing self doubt and lack of control, had got settled in for the meantime.
So what’s the problem?
The truth? I don’t know. Not for sure anyway, but I have a fair idea that the arrival of the big man in the red suit might have something to do with it. This time of year can be unsettling and because it is promoted as ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, that can make it also the ‘most stressful time of the year!’
I know some people have that jumpy feeling a lot and I cannot imagine how draining that is, but I am always grateful when my equilibrium starts to come back. With Tag – the eternal worrier – I now feel that I know him well enough to ensure that his ‘normal’ is my ‘normal’ and when I maintain that, then his well-being is a lot healthier and therefore, so is mine.
Recently we have been working on everything that we got out of our last lesson and it does feel that he is balancing himself much better, but I still haven’t reached a point where I am really comfortable yet and at the minute it does all feel a bit forced (on my part, he has taken to it all very well) and not as ‘natural’ as I would like. That will take time and although I have made changes to some elements of his way of going, he is essentially still the same horse underneath it all and thankfully I know the drawings of the foundations quite well.
And this is where I find myself gaining confidence in the things I do know and can control to a certain extent and trying to let go of what can’t. Advice that is always easier said than done, but on the run up to what is a truly crazy time of year it is something we have to do, or that uneasy feeling might take up permanent residence.
I plan to keep working away with Tag up to Christmas, when we might have a break while I get a little festive and he hopefully gets a little chilled out. It’s a time of year to focus on what matters, resisting the pressure to strive for perfection – the adverts on television are not real, not everyone is living it up on a Christmas night out and children are not always well behaved for Santa (in fact they can be particularly tricky and horrible at this time of year).
So, the best bet is to take it as it comes, and try and see it for what it is; a time to get together with friends and family and relax. The extra pressure is not good for anyone, but if you surround yourself with the people you know, it will all be a lot easier as the element of surprise and the opportunity to be unseated by a spook are reduced. So here’s hoping Tag remembers all this too and looks after me when I decide to go for a hack after a few glasses of eggnog. I’ll have to set him to autopilot and hope for the best.
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