How to Have a Broken Heart: Turn Good News Into Bad

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Buy Broken Heart by Stephanie Marrott Today had the potential to move another step forward in my dream of becoming an accomplished equestrian.

Instead, I (mentally) took a huge step backwards.  Today I took my horse Nikki to Pioneer Equine Hospital, which is a 3 hour drive from my home in Northern California. He went for his complete lameness exam, ultrasound, etc.

The vet found absolutely nothing wrong with my horse.

Good news, right?  You would think so. Not in my mind.

Now, my horse Nikki’s “problem” is all behavioral and training.

Which, in my mind, makes it 100% my fault.

Which, makes Nikki the second horse I’ve ruined.

There were some very nice horses at the vet hospital.  Fancy horses.  Well-kept horses.  When I looked at Nikki – objectively stood back and looked – I was embarrassed.

He’s skinny.  He has absolutely no muscle tone.  His coat is dirty and rough.  His mane shaggy.  His tail uncombed.

How did I let this happen?

All of this has me right back to believing that

  • No, I cannot ride.
  • No, I should not be on a horse.
  • No, when it comes to horses, and
  • I have no idea what I’m doing.

I’m sure that my new trainers could fix Nikki back up.  But why?  What’s the point?  Under my care, he’s just going to revert to what he is now.

I’ve said it a million times – dedication, persistence, and patiently progressing towards a goal are not my strong points.

Add on top of that my inherent laziness.

Stupid dream.

Heart broken.


Danielle rotated off 8 Women Dream in 2009 still working on her equestrian dreams.

  • Rachel

    Hmm, I don’t like the way it came off, what I said. Like I have all these answers. Really, I was talking about the very things I’ve been working on myself. How many times have I wasted energy feeling bad about something that happened in the past, and then wasted more energy feeling bad for wasting energy feeling bad…

    Also, I was thinking about what you said about how Nikki looked, compared to the fancy horses at the vet. It reminded me a little of looking at my kids, compared to some other kids who are cleaner and better dressed, and more calm than mine. On a bad day, I see my kids with their beat up, stained play clothes and dirty faces, next to well dressed, clean, polite children, and feel like a bad mom. Other days, I see my kids running, playing, and getting dirty like kids are supposed to, and wonder what’s up with those other kids who look like they’re their mothers’ show pieces. I wonder how much of the difference between the look of your horses and the others you saw was just the difference between a farm horse and a show horse? Were you just seeing him through the colored lenses of a bad day?

  • Rachel

    Wow, get too busy to read for a week, and look what I miss :o

    “The vet found absolutely nothing wrong with my horse.
    Good news, right?
    You would think so.
    Not in my mind.

    Which, in my mind, makes it 100% my fault.”

    This is exactly how I would respond to that news. Are you going to beat yourself up for feeling responsibility?

    The trouble is, feeling responsibility for what happened doesn’t, by itself, help you or Nikki. Taking responsibility for what happens next will. Feeling responsibility will help you take action, but beating yourself up has just the opposite result. You can’t change what already happened. But you can change what happens next. And when you do, that’s going to make you and Nikki feel better.

    “No, I cannot ride.
    No, I should not be on a horse.”

    Understandable reactions, but unhelpful in terms of finding solutions. What’s the problem? Your horse needs better care and more training, right? So how do you get that for him? It sounds like you’ve already made major steps on improving his training. And, by taking him to the vet, you’ve made a good step toward improving his care.

    So what else is missing? Maybe you need more help? Is there a way you could that?

    “I’m sure that my new trainers could fix Nikki back up. But why? What’s the point? Under my care, he’s just going to revert to what he is now.”

    Your trainers are going to work just with the horse? Not with you as well?

    “I’ve said it a million times – dedication, persistence, and patiently progressing towards a goal are not my strong points.”
    Wait… are you saying that float got put together, year after year, without your dedication, persistence, and patient progress toward a goal? I’m finding that hard to believe…

    Laziness is not the problem.

    “Stupid dream.”

    Of course it’s not stupid. It is ambitious. So are a lot of the other things you’re doing. When you look at what you’ve accomplished, with a little time passed since you wrote this, do you think you have the time and energy to do that all? If not, can you get enough help to do it with help? Or change something that will make some of your jobs easier? If still not, what are your priorities? If you give Nikki over to someone else’s care, is it because you have more important things to do right now? That could be the case, and it certainly doesn’t indicate anything wrong with you. Or… if it is high priority, what else can you give up that’s less important?

  • Oh sweetheart I just want to give you a big hug through the computer! You are SO hard on yourself! (I understand, I can often be that way!). I agree with everyone… Relax, try just riding *for fun* for a bit and see how it feels… and go easy on yourself! You are juggling SO miuch – I often wonder how the heck you manage!


  • Wendy

    I would never put you in the category of being lazy! You are a mother, a float master, farmer and a lawyer. Laziness did not take you to these accomplishments.

    And I am so sorry about your “broken heart” and I have had some of those extreme downs with my own art.

    Remy has good advice. Cut yourself some slack and see if riding still brings you joy.

  • Remy G

    Danelle – gosh, not sure what to say that could support you – as Cath says, maybe there isn’t an answer right now. The business person in me wants to create analogies and find a solution, so I’ll tell that side of me to shut up and be quiet!

    As a friend and fellow dreamer, I wonder if maybe the best thing to do is just to cut yourself some slack and simply reflect on whether or not this is the right dream right now for you.

    Somewhere in your ‘broken’ heart is the answer. If you had all the time in the world to dedicate to it, Nikki may still not be the trainable, rideable horse you thought he was when you got him. Maybe things like that just happen.

    But if you love riding and it brings you joy, forget about competing, forget about goal setting and feeling bad…and just saddle up and take a ride for fun. Maybe your answers are there?

    Is there anything I can do to help? R

  • Catherine

    Sweetie, you have so much going on – a farm (AKA property), animals, very young children, a career, oh yeah – a FARM WITH GRAPES, the float and a husband just to name a few.

    I do not know how you do it.

    In my previous married life my ex husband and I lived in a bungalow at the edge of an Oak forest which sat on a half acre. One weekend would be spent beating back nature, the other would be spent cleaning the inside.

    We also had dogs, cats – the works. When I got divorced, getting my ex husband to move out with the animals was like a HUGE relief for me. Less work.

    Brian was still a little guy, so I only had one – not two like you. Once I moved into our tiny little condo place it was also a big relief not to have to mow two big lawns and fight nature.

    There was more time for me.

    I don’t have an answer for you yet. But I am sure the ladies have suggestions. Just don’t “chicken bone” your self too much over this. (Chicken boning is a phrase I use to describe how we pick on ourselves down to the bone).