What If?

Do you ever have a “What If?” moment?

I had one last month. I met a local woman at the stables and spotted the label on her jacket – she was the owner of a little riding school who had approached me about a job two years ago when I was job hunting. I opted for the bigger riding stables in a slightly different location.

The lady I met didn’t know who I was, and we had a general chat about riding schools and horses. She seemed to be very into her dressage, and most of her clients focused on that area.

This got me thinking though. What would have happened if I had chosen to go and work for her? Would I still be there? Would I have continued to focus Otis on dressage? Would I have made the decision to become a freelance instructor? Would I have taken any more teaching exams? Would I have chosen to move house into a different area?

I guess I will never know the answer – I’m sure my life would have taken a different direction, but hopefully the same steps would have been taken. Migrating into eventing, becoming independent, buying a house. I would just be in a different area, with a different set of friends, clients and colleagues.

One “What If?” moment that I often reflect on is the decision I had to make about a chestnut gelding. His owner was away at university and I was offered him on loan. He was a 15hh Welsh Section D, mature horse. I remember he was quite chunky and a bit bolshier than my 13hh super pony. I was about thirteen and was sent to catch him from the field, tack him up and trial him in the arena.

He had been out of work for a while, and I came away thinking he was lazy but I also felt out of my depth in his size. Two months later we got Matt, my 14.2hh Welsh cob as a just-cut unbroken youngster and I had great fun breaking him in.

What if I had decided to take on this chestnut gelding? I would have certainly been able to go out and compete sooner, but would I have ever experienced the backing process? When my friend took him on as a project the following winter I thoroughly enjoyed riding him as he was fit, forward going, light in the hand, and powerful. If I had him I wouldn’t have had Matt. I would have probably looked for another horse when I was sixteen, instead of eighteen. Which means that I wouldn’t have had Otis! That in itself is an unthinkable travesty! If I hadn’t had Otis would I have perhaps considered going to university a bit more, even if I didn’t really know what I wanted to study. Or would I even have gone down the equine route? Would I have ended up like so many girls and given up the horses in favour of boys? I might be living in a different country!

To be honest, it’s not even worth considering that my life could be that different and devoid of Otis!


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