I’m a nerd. I’m always trying in my geeky way to learn something from life. And in the last year I’ve learned a lot about myself and the kind of life I want to live. There are not words to comprehensively describe how losing my mom has changed me; but I notice little angles, facets of my personality that have been recut.
I was an impulsive child, always a little out of control and on the verge of a temper tantrum. There was a lot of talk about “self-control” and “emotional maturity” growing up—I am the daughter of a psychologist, so draw your own conclusions there. Over the years I was reined-in and domesticated into a socially-acceptable (I use that term loosely) adult. And that was a good thing, trust me. But in the last year, my childhood impulsivity stretched its stiff limbs and reawakened. In my mind it zips around like a bird trapped in a barn, swooping about and periodically smacking into a closed window.
I’ve realized that maybe I should crack that window. Maybe a little carpe diem is just what I need. I’m not talking carpe diem a la Cheryl Strayed or Lamar Odom, but life is short and a lot of it is ugly and sad, so why exist in a world of no. Plenty of people will tell me no, I don’t need to be one of them.
So I am going to Florida. To Ocala, only for a couple weeks, but enough to jump a good horse around under the palm trees. Best business decision ever? No. Would I make more money if I stayed here? Yes. Would I regret not seizing the opportunity to show a really fabulous horse? Also yes.
A little backstory on this fabulous horse; I was talking with a good friend back in September about my frustration with life, the industry and my place in it. Was I crazy to think that I could be something more than a decent low-level pro? I think the exact quote I used was: “I really want the 1.20-meter to stop being my Olympics.”
I realize this sounds privileged, that everything is relative and that to go from backyard local hunters to respectable 1.20-meter rounds at USEF recognized horse shows on a horse I made up myself is not nothing. But when you’re hungry to move up the levels, can’t afford to buy something with more scope and realizing that your splinter belly little brown horse is maxed out and the right thing for her is to find a nice 1.10-meter home, you may find yourself bemoaning your situation.
This is the glass ceiling I think a lot of young pros find themselves hitting. I need a good horse to move up on, I need sponsors to help me get a good horse, I can’t get sponsors unless I have a good horse. Round and round it goes and I continue to represent team USA in the high schooling 1.20-meter.
My friend said to me: “You’re right; you need to get out there and do it.” And then the planets aligned in a way I never could have predicted. A few days later she gave me a call, she had talked to her sponsor and they had a horse that they intended to breed but she hadn’t caught last spring. My friend explained that the mare was sound, had miles in the 1.35-meter, needed a job and asked if I would be interested in leasing her.
A lot of people have asked me over the last couple months if there was anything they could do for me and I never really know what to say. Fiona (the wonder horse) coming into my life has given me so much more than scope for the big fences.
She’s given me back my drive to make every ride count; she’s reignited the spark in me to dream big; and on the really rough days, when I’m missing mom the most–she’s given me a reason to get out of bed. A good mare is the best medicine for a broken heart and the people who made it possible for me to have her in my barn have done more for me than they can ever know.
So I’m seizing the day, or the month, and heading south in January with a few sale horses and Fi. I am excited and a little scared, but aren’t those the best kind of butterflies?
Chronicle blogger and up and coming hunter/jumper trainer Paige Cade spent most of the 2015 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival working for Margie Engle’s Gladewinds Farm, and has recently made the decision to return to Virginia to start her own riding and training business, Country Fox Farm, Inc. Paige would like to thank Equine Omega Complete, Dr. Sallie Hyman and Total Equine Veterinary Associates for their continued support for the 2016 season. Read all her blog entries.