noun en·dur·ance \in-ˈdu̇r-ən(t)s
the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially: the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity
See also: “delayed gratification”.
I’ve said it before, and it bears repeated: endurance ain’t for the faint of heart. Or the impatient. Or anyone who can’t deal with bouts of “one step forward, two steps back.” Some people make it look easy, but that’s rarely the whole story. I would say it’s somewhat unusual to not have some kind of setbacks, injuries, plans going awry, and life definitely not going as intended. And, speaking from personal experience, trying to adhere to a rigid plan and schedule is what creates so much internal angst and pressure on our parts.
Our horses don’t care about a “schedule.” They have no concept of time as we see it, nor do they understand our impatience when they “won’t get with the program.” You can’t rush success/progress/experience…and if you try, it’s more apt to be a shortcut/patch-job that will likely later end up blowing up spectacularly. There’s a reason for the popularity of “made” endurance horses: Appeal to those that may not want to take, or have the time to start a young horse from scratch.
And, as a friend recently put, “dry spell” is spelled “e-n-d-u-r-a-n-c-e-r-i-d-e-r”. Which is so true. The whole endurance journey is a lot of ups and downs — and I’m not just talking about the hill climbing. It’s probably going to be somewhat rare to have constant smooth sailing. Of course there are steps you can take and things you can do to help minimize some obstacles and potential stumbling blocks…but sometimes life just happens. Personally, I’m in the middle of one of those dry spells right now, and really, this is a case where temporarily accepting it, versus working myself up into a major angst-fest over things I have no power to change or influence, is the healthiest course of action. (Not to say I always take the healthiest course of action. This blog post was written in one of my more rational and charitable frames of mind.)
Life tends to have cycles and seasons all on its own, and throwing something as involved, complicated, and time-consuming as endurance into the mix can be that much more complicated. Sometimes it turns into an exercise in evaluating your priorities, learning balance, figuring out the “can’t do it all” factor…and then a bit of “the stars aligning.”
Julie Suhr once said about finishing Tevis that it is “one third horse, one third rider, and one third Lady Luck.” I would say the same applies to endurance in general.
And in a perfectly timed “universe has a sense of humor” coincidence, this year’s copy of the Tevis Forum magazine got delivered in the mail when I initially started working on this post. Ha. Hahaha. As anyone who has followed my blog for any period of time knows that’s one of my ultimate destination goals…and that the closest I’ve come to the stars aligning is multiple times of crewing, and some chances to preview and pre-ride sections of the trail. It’s all leading up to that point…steps in the journey…but in the meantime, I can’t help but sometimes feel a bit of “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” syndrome…and wonder just how long I have to keep delaying gratification?
So why do we do this???
Because when it does all come together, it’s so worth it. Because sometimes have plans go awry can result in interesting and unexpected detours or re-routes, not all of which are a bad thing. And because it’s life. Life is unexpected, and rarely follows our idea of a well-behaved and orderly plan and function.
But that’s all part of living.