Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Failure Is NEVER An Option!

My motto
(and my drug of choice)

I DID IT!!  I survived the Country Heir horse show.  Seriously, it was a brutal two weeks that kicked off with a bang and ended with me on my knees in a stall in tears.  Typical Country Heir experience.

It started as busy.  It progressed to busy and stressful.  Days were long, got longer, and pushed to 17 and 18 hours without breaks by the middle of the second week.  Training came to a standstill.

It culminated in a night where one of my helpers was over eight hours late and the other two did not help pick up the slack.  At a point when the fatigue and stress were producing obvious physical changes, emotions were running rampant, and every inch of my body and mind were crying uncle, I had to braid as fast I have ever braided to get two lists done before the morning cutoff.  I didn't have time to eat, drink, rest, pee... nothing.  It sucked.  Not to be coarse, but that is the only real description.  My hands were screaming, my legs were shaking, my shoulders were burning but I wasn't terribly interested in losing my clients so I kept moving... as fast as I could.

I had three horses left on the early list.  I was making excellent time and realizing I was going to pull it off.  My shoulder was almost non-functional so when I slid the stall door open on my next horse, I grabbed the bars and slung my body weight against it to slam the door open (necessary since they are so heavy but exaggerated because I was rushing).  As these doors slide across the wall and the bars on the door cross the bars on the wall, there is something of a guillotine effect as the gaps suddenly disappear.  Too bad my fingers were wrapped around the bars.  My thumb, forefinger, and middle finger were all crushed in the door.

The pain pushed me right over the edge and I dropped to my knees and started crying.  I don't think it was the pain, though it was pretty blinding at that moment.  It was all the stress and frustration of the two weeks boiling over.  I let myself have about 2 minutes then I stood up, got on my ladder and started braiding the pony.  I did not have time.  My fingers felt like they were in boiling water and every twist was misery.  I went ahead and let myself cry but kept twisting.  Eventually my fingers went numb and provided some relief.  I just kept telling myself that there is more than one type of training.  Mental toughness matters.  This was still a useful experience.

I finished the list 10 minutes before the cutoff and about that time, my helper arrived to work.  I let her do the one that went a little later and used the time to do my billing.

In the end, it all worked out.  It always works out.  It's actually a braider motto.  It always works out... because you cannot afford to fail.  Period.  It's a physical task which means that you can work harder, faster, longer, whatever it takes to make it happen.  Failure means you are unemployed.  YOU DO NOT FAIL.

They all got knots in the neck!

Sometimes I think this is why I do not train for 140.6.  I don't need to test that grit.  I know it's there.  I know what I am made of because I rediscover it all the time.  Every time I think about racing an Ironman, ultra-marathon, or ultra distance bike race, I just get a little tired and slightly nauseous.  I realize that it's all about refusing to fail.  It's about ignoring pain and discomfort, focusing for long periods on a relatively boring task, keeping your pace up and your feet moving for extended periods of time, refusing to slow down, refusing to stop.  I get paid to suffer like that... why on earth would I do it for free?

Actually, I probably will do it someday but I feel like there is only so many times you want to dig in for that experience and right now, I get my fill... and training for shorter distances with this job is already kicking my ass!

On to happier news... Country Heir is over and...

Today, I am headed to my favorite destination.  Today, I am headed here:

This is where I swim.

This is where I ride.

This is where I run.  

One of the best parts of my year starts today.

Let's review:




My next post will be from my summertime haven.  I can't wait!!  NORTHWOODS! YAY!!


  1. To your readers who have never braided a horse...it's tough enough to braid ONE. I cannot imagine all you do, how your fingers survive, your back, legs, energy, and mind. How horrifying to smash them! I have zero doubt you could do an Ironman or anything you wanted to do. But like me with a busy life too, at what cost? When/if the time is right, yes.

    Congrats on getting to the other side of that show.

    P.S. What is the 'cutoff'??

  2. Thanks! That means a lot.

    The cutoff is the latest time that you can be finishing your last "early" horse, usually about 5:30. All horses that go before about 9-9:30 qualify as early because once they come in to feed, they take them to lunge, get ridden, bathed, etc and you won't be able to braid them. After the earlies are done, you just need to stay about 2 hours ahead of the rings. Generally, you can take a short (~10 min) break around feed time unless you are truly slammed. Sometimes a break is imposed on you when all the horses go out to be ridden and you can't get your hands on anything.