Every ride, before getting down to work, I take a long walk around the cross country field and through the woods. It gets me focused and Grail's back starts to swing. We both enjoy it. I have been at Boot Camp for almost 3 weeks and the bigger cross country jumps have really only been evaluated in terms of whether they would make a comfortable place to sit while I watch lessons.
Today, I randomly discovered this view between Grail's ears and wondered to myself, "Is that upper level rider still living inside me?" Surprisingly, the answer wasn't a flat out "Hell No!"
I continued with the mind exercise. My last trip around an Area III Intermediate level horse trial was 2006 and I was in my 30's. "If I had the horse, the skill set, and the training I had then, would I gallop down to this fence?" Yes, with a big fat smile on my face. Next question.
"Would I want to ride at the Intermediate level again?" Nope. I've done Bromont, The Fork, North Georgia, Poplar Place, Pine Top, not courses anyone would call "soft", but even then it was clear that the courses were becoming more difficult. Competing at that level, riding one horse, and living in the Midwest would not only leave me uncompetitive, it would be unsafe. I could not get enough practice without drastically changing my life.
The next obvious question would be "Why am I suddenly asking myself these questions?" Because Boot Camp is making me happy. The sport that I was so passionate about in my 30's, disappeared from my life in my 40's. I asked myself constantly during that time if I had lost my passion for riding and competing. I wondered if my depression was the cause or the result. I wondered if I would ever find another horse I enjoyed riding so much that I feel asleep thinking about riding.
Will I gallop to Preliminary level corners again? I think probably, because I am sitting on a horse that thinks he might want to do it. Will it be soon? Probably not. I am in no hurry. I am just happy to have all of the pieces back on the game board. They will fall into position at their own pace. I am happy to be falling asleep thinking about riding.