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17 November 2016

climbing the valley walls

It was bound to happen. I've been riding the wave of horseriding-excitement for three months.

Every high has its low. Yesterday, I just wasn't feeling it. Life piled up. I'd had three nearly-sleepless nights in a row, I'd worked almost 30 hours in those three days, it was a particularly stressful work week, I was barely keeping up with my homework (thanks to the gracious acceptance of a late assignment by one of my professors), and I'm low on the cash flow this month. So when my alarm went off yesterday morning, I snoozed it for about 30 minutes. Then I got up and drove my kiddo to school, came back home and went back to bed.

I could have stayed in bed all day, comfortably if not happily.

When I could no longer sleep, I still laid in bed, not feeling like moving despite my plans to ride that morning. Eventually, I realized what was happening. I've been maxed out recently, and depression was sinking in. But I know the signs of anhedonia and I wasn't about to let that cycle get a foothold. I forced myself to get out of bed and go to the barn. To be fair, it was a lot easier to keep going once I started, and I was at least happy to be at the barn once I got there.

I had planned to work with Dash on our walk-trot transitions again, but something was off from the moment I got there.

I assumed it was just me and my depression, so I let the awareness just stay on the back burner, not fully ignoring it, but not paying it any attention, either. Then I went about my routine.

Get the tack out of the shed.
Put a treat in my pocket for later.
Grab Dash's halter and lead rope.

Dash seemed quiet when I led him out of the pasture - this is unusual for him.
He does usually stand quietly while tied, though, and this time he started shaking his head. Up and down, repeatedly. There were flies buzzing around; the day was oddly still for our windy autumn season. I got the fly spray out and gave him a good layer. The head tossing stopped. Well, that's that, I thought.

He didn't toss his head when I went to put the bit in his mouth - that's unusual for him. We usually have at least two head tosses before he takes the bit.


All tacked up, he followed me almost meekly to the arena. Again, uncharacteristic. He's usually excited.

As soon as I turned to close the arena gate behind us, the wind picked up.
The wind always makes Dash antsy, but this time he seemed half asleep.

He dragged his feet and half-stumbled several times in our first five minutes in the arena.
I dismounted, concerned. I led him around to see if he looked lame - he wasn't. He perked up a bit while we walked around, and even head-butted me like normal as he followed along behind me. But he was still oddly quiet.

I led Dash back out of the arena, untacked him, and just walked around the yard with him.

The wind was getting ridiculous at this point. I talked to M about Dash's mood and health; she thinks (and she would know) that he's just out of sorts. There are two new horses at the barn and the weather's been changing rapidly lately (cue gust of wind). There was no sign of poor health, but Dash is a worrier. She always keeps a close eye on him, so I'm not really worried, but I felt bad for the big goof ball. He hadn't even asked for a treat until after his saddle was off. That's usually the first thing he communicates to me when I show up.

The weather got weird, then. It was calm but windy and the birds were going crazy. It felt like a storm, but one never came.

I went home pensive.

I took today off. I still didn't feel rested when I woke up, and I just felt crappy. I guessed that Dash and I could both use a day off. I'm going tomorrow, though, even if I don't ride. I can't let the depression win.

I've been coasting on the excitement of getting back to horseback riding. Now, I've reached the low point, but that's okay. I know how to climb up out of the valley.

One day at a time. 

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