I’m often told that Portugal is not the place if I really want to make it to the top. They say my horse has the potential, and I need to do it now, to make it now, to give it everything now. I am told I should be in Germany, or the UK, now.
Well, now is all we really have.
I could have stayed in Germany, I could move to England, I have lots of options, and yet I’m still here, and I’m still doing it the long way round.
Truth is, I love riding, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my happiness in order to win. I’m not actually willing to make that tough choice, to give it everything, because for me, there are other parts of life that I feel are important, for me.
For some reason, and for many reasons, Portugal is the place that I love to be. I feel at home here. I have lived in Germany, and it just wasn’t for me.
I am someone who needs a summer, and not a summer that lasts one weekend, but an actual summer, something that makes the winter easier to bare.
On the weekend I was sitting with my best friend, eating some of the most amazing seafood, by a beach that feels like home, and she said to me, “man your life is tough!” 🙂
If I gave riding everything I had, and moved to a bigger dressage nation, and I was successful at that, then what? I guess I give too much importance to my own happiness, but if I don’t then who will?
There are a lot of Portuguese sayings that I had never heard of, but there is one that I heard recently that I grew up hearing a lot…My mum would say “too much of anything is never good” although this never applied to ice-cream ;)…
I know people who spend their entire lives dedicating all of themselves to one thing, a job, a sport, a passion, a person, then wake up one day next to a wife they barely know, with children who have grown up without them noticing.
My father was only with me for 11 years, but he was present for those 11 years.
I know people who spend 50 years with a parent, who is present, but never really there.
I think it’s amazing, and I admire riders, who can put everything into the sport they love, and still find balance, and can still be truly happy, but I can’t.
This doesn’t mean I don’t give it everything I’ve got, it just means that the everything I’ve got is shared between the things I find important, to me.
And of course for every person that says I should be venturing off in search of my horse riding career, there is another person who says “you really should be thinking about having kids soon”. So if you tried to please everyone you would end up pleasing no-one, and not being true to yourself either.
I have riders write to me and say they know they could be a better rider, but they have children. I say that there challenge is then to be the best rider they can be, while still being there for their kids.
My mum always said as long as you’re happy, I don’t mind what you do…
You might love your job, but be able to leave work and really leave the work life behind when you get home.
You might ride your horse everyday, and love that so much that it fulfils you completely.
You might not mind the cold, or being alone, and you might have the capacity to live anywhere, regardless of how you feel about the place.
I never thought I would end up living on the other side of the world, and I really never thought I would call it my home.
But I went in search of that balance that had so far been missing in my life, and I feel very lucky that I found it.
So if I never make it, I honestly don’t really care. I have this conversation at least once a month with different people, and my answer is always the same.
If I’m happy, I’m already winning.