Confessions From An Obsessive Compulsive Over Analyzer

Valonia at Pirouette Farm (photo taken by May Emerson) Valonia at Pirouette Farm (photo taken by May Emerson)

Why would I throw away perfectly good money on therapy when I can divulge my inner most thoughts with all you die hard Eventing Nation followers? I must confess, I come from generations of border line obsessive compulsive and overly analytical folks, therefore I was doomed from the get-go. Although, this mental state is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact, several members in my family, including yours truly, have actually embraced this state of being.

There are a considerable number of benefits that accompany this mental state. For starters, whoever suffers from OCOA (obsessive compulsive over analyzer) will appreciate the fact that we are all incredibly organized. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am the queen of To Do lists. I leave ink reminders on my hand. I leave sticky notes everywhere, and I send myself email reminders so I don’t forget to do something. Call is crazy, call it organized, call it whatever you may like, but this girl would never have graduated from college if it weren’t for those don’t forget to do…today notes. We also pay close attention to details. We lose sleep at night thinking about important tasks, and about our loved ones (obviously horses included). The list goes on and on.

Unfortunately, OCOA comes with a list of baggage as well. As an avid event rider, my OCOA gets in the way frequently. Let’s say I have a horrific lesson (true story). I cannot see a distance to save my life, while others are cantering circles around me. Ultimately, the lesson ends with a fight and I replay the events over and over again, until my internal remote practically freezes from over use. I become enraged and every thought is consumed by the lesson I had two days ago. Where did I go wrong? Why can’t I figure this horse out? What am I missing? What am I doing with my life? Am I supposed to be a rider? I really don’t know how to ride….maybe I should find something else to do.

Skybreaker xc schooling this summer (photo taken by May Emerson)

Skybreaker xc schooling this summer (photo taken by May Emerson)

Raise your hand if you’ve ever lost sleep over a ride, a lesson, or a competition, or asked yourself if you should really be riding at all? Reassure me that I am not the only rider who questions herself, while replaying her thoughts, decisions and training repeatedly? Selling your soul to eventing, or coming close to selling your life to this sport can be simultaneously amazing and dangerous. Yes, we have all consented, and signed on the dotted line below. We knew what we were getting ourselves into when we chose this way of life, or at least we thought we did. And yet, did we remember to factor in the rage, the seemingly unattainable goals, the headaches, mind aches, body aches, and the never-ending questions about our horses? Before we signed the arbitrary document, did we contemplate the hardships, and the long lost nights of sleep? Of course we didn’t think about the side effects when we signed up for this life because we were under the event riders spell, and lured in by gorgeous horses, and thrill seeking competitions.

A wise Professor in college once told me, “we don’t choose our paths, our careers, and our lives, instead those paths, those careers, and those ways of life choose us.” I have no idea if this philosophical statement is valid or not, but the concept is perplexing nevertheless. Regardless of my Professors insight, life spent on a horse farm seems to have countless more pro’s, than it has con’s. Yes, I have lost sleep at night thinking about and obsessing over my cross country course for the following day, or why my horse seems unsound, or why I can’t ride better. These are common fears and thoughts. Perhaps I am not the only victim suffering from OCOA, perhaps you cannot own, ride and compete a horse without having a drop of OCOA in your blood?


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