My barn has an adult camp twice a year - a dressage intensive for older women who come, board their horses with us, get lessons every day and watch the other lessons, get their rides videoed and then analyze the videos over wine, learn about riding to music, so on and so forth.
I have hangups sometimes about the fancy things at my barn, which is that I just ride my horse and I love my horse and if he ever sets foot in a competitive dressage ring again it will be a pleasant surprise.
And there are a LOT of very nice horses at this barn, and they are aimed at Grand Prix, and they are purpose-bred, and they have a lot of money in their blankets and their tack and their vet appointments.
To be clear, the trainer, barn manager, owners, everyone, are the loveliest people and would never, ever judge or treat me differently. They know how hard I work with Tristan, and they love Tristan for who he is, which is all I ever ask. He is valued as the babysitter, as the level-headed sweetheart that he is.
But then people arrive and I get a pang and I think, I would like to spend the whole week in the company of these women, riding my fancy horse and drinking wine together and laughing.
And then I think, I can't afford it.
If I could afford it, my horse would not be up to it - not even sound, much less at the camp level.
If I could afford it and my horse were sound, I would never be able to get a whole week off.
And then? If all the stars lined up? I'd still feel the outsider. Which is all on me, for sure.
So this is always a weird week for me, of being the ghost around the edges. Last night I got there after it was all over and walked with Tristan up and down the hill, and chatted with the barn manager and another lesson kid, and marveled at the new fancy horses in the stalls.
I guess I don't have a point to this post, except that incoherent yearning, sometimes. I adore my horse. I am happy with the path we have taken together (well, ok, I could've done with fewer vet bills, but you get the idea). I don't have the drive, the money, the time to follow that other path.
But, still. Still.