What’s it worth?

(“There are only so many pirouettes in a horse’s hocks.”)

A wise old instructor once said, “Don’t charge too little for your services. Some people just need to pay to realize your worth.”
So let’s turn that philosophy around while you ask yourself what you will pay for success. Dollars don’t mean much if you have enough of them. So instead, here is your choice. Suppose you were offered big-time competitive success (assuming you don’t have it already)—the kind of success where you’re in all the magazines and your name is on everyone’s lips. There are a lot of people with that dream.
But what if the cost is this: as your “functional interaction” with your horse improves by leaps and bounds, you are no longer allowed to have an emotional relationship with him. Like those bomb sniffing dogs in the airport that you aren’t allowed to pat, your relationship with your horse must become de-“personalized,” sterile, without love.
Is successful worth that much to you?
That’s one extreme. Along the spectrum there are many versions of the same conundrum. Is success worth never turning your horse out? Is it worth keeping him on medications that will shorten his lifespan or lead to debilitating unsoundnesses as he gets older? Given that there are only so many pirouettes in a horse’s hocks or so many landings off big jumps in a horse’s fetlocks, how much do you let yourself practice those things to “get really good?”
These are questions that only you can answer, but they are worth remembering to ask.