First of all, having a horse be injured (although making a stellar recovery so far! Yay R&R and BOT!) really puts things in perspective. I've always had my moments, especially the more and more I ride, where I want to do nothing but ride and work with horses for the rest of my life. It was very tempting and would have been quite easy to go be a working student with Wolfgang May at his new place (I could take Greta) this school year instead of going to college. But now that I'm here, having the first glimpse of me truly applying myself and not really having the option of riding 24/7, I'm starting to see the first real, tangible, palpable glimmers of the big picture. Having Greta be injured is the slap-in-the-face I need every now and then. And she doesn't seem to mind having some R&R either!
I love horses, I love riding, don't get me wrong. But when I got a taste of all the opportunities out there for me, for my love of animals and humanitarian work and conservation and just making a difference in the big scheme of things, my whole idea of riding as a living almost seems selfish. For me, that is. Not for others, just for me. It's a case-to-case situation.
When I know how much I want to make a big difference in the world, and when I that I really can, it makes me very excited and eager for the future. I can have a beyond-ideal job at a zoo or with a conservation program and still do geeky field studies around the world. I can share my love of animals with others, and try to instill a love and respect for them within in those people.
I just bombed my first set of exams. I felt horrible and stupid and like an absolute failure. I resorted back to my "easy way out": I'll just go back to the idea of riding horses for a living! In the long run it would be hard as ever, but for the time being it would be easy. After taking my pity party to facebook, plenty of people told me that it's not uncommon for to bomb your first set of exams in your first year of college. I still feel a twinge of stupidity, but I felt better. I set myself back on track and told myself that I'm in college and I really need to apply myself more than ever before. It was time to put on my big girl panties. I can do it, I just need to do it.
When I went out to the barn yesterday, per usual, Greta put things even further into perspective. I once again realized that while I love riding horses, I like just being around them. I will always have them there. If I intern anywhere I can't take Greta, I will find a way to be with horses. I want a job that I love doing, and can still support my big side hobby. I love horses, I love riding, and I would love to get into upper level eventing and upper level dressage and learn as much as I can. But I have this burning in my heart, and it's been there since childhood and definitely since I worked with rescue horses for six or so years, to see the world and help the world. Just something so I can say, "At least I tried my damnedest."
And who knows, I might do what a lot of humanitarians and conservationists do and say something along the lines of the beginning of Jennifer Connelly's speech in Blood Diamond. It might be too much. But at least I can say I tried and then go do something to help in the horse world. But I need to help. Lord knows I'm one of those weird people that likes be a sales associate because I can help people, even if it's with something as superficial as a really nice name brand (that I, too, rave about LOL).
Anyway, horses put my life into perspective, even if they skew that perspective now and then. Thanks to Greta, I have a reason to go to college and get a good job, and thanks to all that she and other horses have taught me - patience, kindness, humility, and a urge to help - I can find a job working with animals and conservation, it would be still be a good job, and it would be something I love doing.
Horses will always be there. I will always be that little girl who wanted nothing but a pretty pony. And I will always be that little girl who idolized Steve Irwin (and cried when he died) and Jeff Corwin and Jane Goodall and watched all those animals shows on TV like The Wild Thornberries and Zaboomafu, and movies like The Lion King and Bambi, and said to myself, "I love animals. I love nature. That is what I want to have when I grow up."
Thank you Greta, for all the life lessons you have taught me. For being my constant through all the ups and downs. You will get the best place in town at Wimbledon Village Stables when I go to work for the London Zoo, and we will hack around the parks and enjoy nature all freaking day ;)