I had spent a few days reflecting on my story with Tristan in case R. asked questions about our background. We have a few key points that I tell people - he was wild until he was 4, unstarted until 11, and 97% of his rides have been done by me. (In fact I was trying to make a list of anyone who's put substantial time in saddle in on him, and only three people have ridden him above a half dozen times. I'm the only one who's ever ridden him more than a dozen times.)
We talked a very little bit about that but it was the first question that I - foolishly - had not prepared for.
"What's your goal?"
I was stumped for a second, and in the moment I said, "I want to enjoy my horse. I've had him for almost eight years, and he's the love of my life. Maybe we'll get out eventing again someday, but I have no concrete plans for that right now."
In the days since I've been thinking more about this. If you'd asked me that question one year ago I would have said: compete recognized at Beginner Novice, and maybe someday complete a Novice Three Day.
Those would still be lovely things to achieve, but in almost eight years together we've been derailed from them many times, and now Tristan is 18 and I have a hugely demanding job and no extra cash flow. For all that I am intensely ambitious and goal-driven in every other part of my life, I've never been as competitive with my horse. I want us to consistently get better, and I want him to be healthy and happy.
Maybe, by the end of the summer, when we've been on track for longer, I'll feel differently. But right now, I'm content to keep him in work and keep plugging along.