"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Monday, January 28, 2019

So Long, My Friends

I have been writing in this space for close to 8 years, which is an infinity in internet years. There are very few blogs out there that are still active from the time I started writing here. This started as an equestrian blog mainly dedicated to Lily and the trials and tribulations of being a horse owner in South Florida. (Believe me, unless you are an upper level rider, it is not for the faint of heart. I ultimately chickened out and never dove into that subject anywhere as in-depth as I had originally intended to.)

The first photo of Lily that was posted on this blog.
It still astounds me though that, had I not decided one random afternoon to claim a tiny corner of the internet for the stories of my horse, I would have never met some of the people that I now consider my closest friends.

I have been friends with this woman for years. We talk every day but we've only met once in person.
All because of this blog
I wouldn't have unknowingly motivated her to try out Working Equitation, a sport where she is now making a difference! (That still blows my mind...all because of one post I wrote in 2011. Talk about ripple effect!)

Forever proud of these two.
I never would have set foot in the mountains of West Virginia.

I wouldn't have tried cross-country skiing. I wouldn't have seen the Outer Banks from the perspective of a resident who took the time to show us her world...and who also became a dear friend...because of this blog.

I would not have not decided to try Lily out on the trails for real.

One of my first between-the-ears photos of Lily on trail, taken in August of 2013.
I would not have had the balls to start training for endurance, and I probably would have had a lot more difficulty making my way through that world. I definitely would not have attempted the Old Dominion 50 as my first ride!

If I could go back in time I wouldn't do it, especially because I was made to feel awful about it after the fact.
Not all of the equestrian blogging community is kind.
But this will always be one of my favorite memories with this mare and one of my biggest successes as an equestrian: my unspoken lifetime dream was to take a rescue horse that no one wanted and against all odds turn him/her into something that no one could have ever imagined.
DONE. I. fucking. DID.IT. 
And no one can take that away from me.
(Photo by Becky Pearman, used with purchase.)
I would not have stuck with running. I'm not sure we would have felt the need to invest in a truck and trailer of our own. I would not have crewed for a 100. I probably wouldn't own Gracie, and I probably wouldn't have chosen to sell Lily...which would have been an awful thing. The list goes ever on and on. My life would be completely different if it weren't for this blog.

Writing as an equestrian blogger transformed me. I toed the line of writing about other subjects that both affected and interested me, and was pleased by the response these posts received: my life as a veterinary technician working in referral practice, my photography posts about running, my exploration of bodybuilding as a sport, my perspective living here as an "other," my stories about growing up in Puerto Rico.

I eventually realized that I had a lot more to say about those subjects than about horses, especially as I realized that I was gaining way too much baggage with Lily to want to further pursue anything significant with her. Some subjects were honestly chosen based on the fact that I had been told to stop talking about them, which is what has led to the defensive tone that has permeated so much of my writing for a while now.

An ugly truth.
Not surprisingly, the less I wrote about horses the less feedback my posts received. I expected post views to decline accordingly...but what surprised me was watching those non-equestrian posts receive the same number of hits as the horse-themed ones. (Not 20, 30, 50 views, which is what I would have expected...I'm talking 200-300 views within days of publishing.) So I knew they were being read. But because they meant more to me, the potential feedback also meant more...and like, who was reading? Was it the same audience or were these posts reaching a different group of people? I wanted to know if those posts resonated with readers, if they made a difference, if the message that anyone can find their personal strength if they believe in themselves enough that I was trying to transmit by telling the story of my adventures in strength sports, was being received/understood...or if it was just a waste of time to be publishing all of that. I realized too late that maybe I should have been asking prompts to encourage the conversations that I was hoping to start...But I'm old school, y'all, and there aren't any official "Rules of Blogging" written anywhere: when I started blogging, you didn't end every post with a question to get readers to comment like what seems to be all the rage among newer bloggers nowadays. You just figured that if readers were moved enough or if they liked what you wrote enough, they would comment. And that's what usually happened.

Swollen legs...

...and more swollen legs...
...and sliced-open faces...
...and emergency surgery after fracturing + displacing her splint bone on a day she took off galloping onto a main street.
It got real old to always be talking about these subjects. I never wanted to write about these things again.
So instead, I resorted to diving more and more into the personal details of my life, hoping that readers would identify with what I was trying to say to the point that they would speak up. And some of you did, and I appreciate you so much for that. My four Year End Review posts were the epitome of oversharing and, while I really liked how they came out and still feel that what I said in them needed to be said, I also decided I felt way too vulnerable and exposed in the wide open space of the internet. And so, just 5 days after publishing the final part of that Year End Review, I took those posts down. Actually, I took the entire blog down until now, because I needed time to think.

After much self-analysis, I've decided to discontinue this blog altogether. While the blog was always about my own story, hence the name and explanation, it started because of Lily and my audience became familiar with this space as Lily's story.

With Lily departing my life in 2018, it is officially not her story anymore. I will never be writing about her again here. I hate feeling pressured to write about horses in order to elicit a response. My blog is officially not an equestrian blog anymore and I want to target a non-equestrian audience. I want out of this box. I think it will help me stop writing so defensively as well: the defensiveness has been directed at a specific sector of readers that will be a relief to drop. I just want to write for my own enjoyment again, without being so preoccupied about who is or isn't reading.

And so this is my farewell to the online equestrian community.

If you missed the Year End Review posts, here are the lessons I was trying to impart by going into as much detail in them as I did. They are lessons that I've been consciously hiding in my writing for the past couple of years now, but I'm going to spell them out:

  • Follow your gut.
  • BUT: don't mistake gut feelings for anxiety. Anxiety can incapacitate you. That said, anxiety shouldn't be ignored either: it's not a personality flaw. It is a mental disease, it is treatable and you can get help for it. And no, you don't have to automatically go on meds to manage it: a professional can help you find coping methods to de-escalate anxiety attacks/episodes. *Also, if you're "normal" (whatever that means) and have anxious friends, for Chrissakes try to be empathetic. Making fun of your anxious friends and demeaning them just helps accelerate their downward spiral into depression.*
If animals can be empathetic like the rats in this study, so can you, human. It's not that difficult.
  • Discipline trumps talent.
  • Drive trumps genetics.
  •  Embrace your strengths and your hard work. Be proud of them. Stop comparing yourself to others: you'll enjoy yourself so much more if you just focus on what you can do. 
  • Females are stronger. Period. Pretty much regardless of species. 

  • Don't be intimidated by the gym. Everyone is intimidated when they start going for the first time. And I mean everyone. Me included, and I still have my days. The truth is that no one is paying attention to what anyone else is doing. Really. (I mean, unless you're the one woman banging out 200+ lb deadlifts in the entire gym...but that's just fun! :D) Make a playlist that makes you want to move to it, get a set of good noise-cancelling headphones and get lost in that music while you work out. Strong, Oxygen and Muscle & Fitness Hers are great sources that promote being strong over being skinny; they usually have solid workouts if you're new to working out and are looking for ideas/trying to learn your way around dumbbells, barbells and weight machines. 
  • #puertoricostrong forever and ever and ever.
  • It's okay to love other things in addition to/instead of horses. It's okay to move on from a horse that has stumped you with her training. Saying "this is enough" for your own health, confidence and sanity doesn't make you a quitter and you shouldn't be judged for that. It's okay to want to heal your relationship with horses by taking time off from them. It's okay to want a horse that is mentally sound, friendly, fun to ride and just fun to be around without any fantastic competitive goals. It's okay to just want to enjoy the journey with your equine companion. 

  • The ongoing theme throughout this blog for the last 4 years has been that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. Be it turning the $1 mutt mare into an endurance beast...
(Photo by Becky Pearman, used with purchase.)
...or transforming your formerly non-athletic self into a powerlifter with a (currently) 230 lb deadlift that can also clock an 8-minute mile, two things which should not be compatible. You just have to be willing to put in the work to get there. Nothing worth doing is easy.

My lockout on 230 lbs.
Ya ain't gonna look pretty when you lift heavy shit in the gym. You also can't be shy when you start moving up in weight: you're going to get looks when you start slapping more plates onto your barbell and banging said heavy shit around. BUT: it's crazy empowering when you start doing that, so by that point you're not gonna care who's looking.(Like the guy in the back in this photo...lolololol)
  • Don't be afraid to set lofty goals. The trick is to figure out the steps you need to take in order to get to that goal...and focus on each of those steps so you can enjoy the adventure! That way if you change your mind or something comes in between you and that end goal, you can still say you had fun. :)
  • Don't make assumptions about other cultures and races. It's okay to not know: most of us are aware that US history and social studies classes leave a lot to be desired, and we would rather you try to learn than ignore the differences. Be intrigued about where other people come from,  their language, their religion, their music, their childhood, their flora and fauna. Ask questions, "What do you miss the most from your home? What is your favorite fruit? Your favorite food that you can't find here? What does it taste like? What did you listen to on the radio? What TV shows did you watch growing up? Are your holidays different? How do you celebrate? What did they teach in history classes? What made you come here?..." You'll be surprised by the answers. I can count on one hand how many Americans have asked me those questions in 14 years living on the mainland. Whereas it's a common subject of conversation when we meet outsiders, especially Hispanics from other Central and South American countries. Carlos and I know about Star Trek and Michael Jackson and Madonna and The Dark Crystal and The Simpsons and South Park and MTV and Nickelodeon, because we grew up in an American colony where all of those things were mainstream like they are here. What you don't know is that most of it, especially the TV shows, was dubbed in Spanish unless we saw it on cable or rented it at Blockbuster. (Ex: the Smurfs in Spanish are called Los Pitufos. Smurfette is Pitufina.) Most "others" don't grow up with your familiar American things. For example, I had a Russian coworker who had no idea what Star Wars was because Star Wars was not a part of Soviet Russian culture in the 1980s when he was a child in his home country. (Side note: his story was fascinating and well worth hearing. None of his American coworkers had ever expressed curiosity about his world or his country until I came along...and he had been working in that department for years!) So: ask questions. Be interested. Be less self-centered. The "others" around you will appreciate you more for making an effort to learn about them. You'll also break a stereotype while you're at it. <3 One of the beautiful things about living in the United States is that you don't have to travel overseas to learn about different cultures. You have a plethora of them right here within arm's reach. 
  • Having an accent does not mean that a person isn't fluent in English nor that they don't understand English. More times than I can count, I've been sent into exam rooms at work to talk to people that had "heavy Spanish accents" who sometimes did not have heavy accents at all and were 100% fluent in English...and who insisted on speaking to me in English despite being given the choice of Spanish. Again: don't make assumptions. And also: don't treat someone as less for knowing more languages than you do, because both myself and people that I love have experienced that too while living in the US. I have an accent when I speak in English: this whole blog is proof that a Spanish speaker can be more fluent in English than some English-only speakers...#endrantforgoodnow
  • Live in the present more. Don't wait until later to make your dreams come true. "Later" doesn't always come. 
  • And most of all: remember that when you want something, the Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. <3
If you need a reminder, just go back and read through this blog. :)
There aren't enough words with which to thank those of you who have followed throughout the years, that have come out of the ether of the internet to become real presences in my life. Your comments and encouragement and help through thick and thin and the ups and downs that I've shared through this page have made such an enormous difference. It is because of you that I have continued writing for so long. I just need to move on from this equestrian space because I am not just an equestrian anymore.

I would love to hear from my readers one last time...and because I suck at this, I don't even know what prompt to write. I don't know what I want readers to comment about or on...I think I'd just like to know that the things that I wrote about meant something positive for you. If any of it changed you or made you think differently or try something that you never considered before...if it motivated you to go out in search of your dreams...I would love to know.  Maybe I'm afraid to ask because I'm also afraid that like so many other times in my life when I've said good-bye, I won't get a response in return. But please feel free to comment here or on the Wait for the Jump Facebook page if you so wish.

Two weeks from the publish date of this post, I will disable all comments throughout the blog for good. It will be read-only. The Wait for the Jump Facebook page will remain live, but I won't be posting on there anymore either.

If you would like to keep up with me, you are welcome to follow along on Instagram. My username is @ntorrech and for now that account is public. I started my IG account in 2014 as a direct complement to the blog and with over 1400 posts/photos, it has developed a life of its own. I post photos every week of the same subjects that I've written about in this space: my town, my horse, the cats, my running, my lifting, our adventures, our life in general. It's my little realm of self-expression. I write short posts on there too because I need to practice being more direct and to-the-point with my writing. ;)

And with that, I will say what the dolphins said in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "So long, and thanks for all the fish."


  1. I don't think words can express how much I'll miss your blog. It was one of the first ones that I started following back when endurance riding was a gleam in my eye. Because of your blog, I was inspired not only to try endurance but to keep going. And meeting you in person and riding with you (and Carlos!) was so wonderful! I've always wished we lived a little closer, but I will treasure the rides we were able to have:) (And hope that someday we figure out how to get together again!)

    I admit I've been one of the people reading, but not commenting as much because I felt like I rarely had the time to write the kind of beautiful comments that you have always left on my blog. Those comments were always so thoughtful and in-depth - just like your blog posts!

    I think this blog is one of very few where the author expresses such honesty and vulnerability. I think I'm kind of lucky with my blog because so few people that I know actually read it and the ones that do are pretty kind about what they read. So I can express things about my friends or events and feel more comfortable because I suspect the significant players won't be reading. But I know in your case, you write even knowing that a lot of people you know will read and perhaps judge. That takes a kind of bravery that not very many people possess.

    I wish you the best, whether it is with horses or weight lifting or running or vet teching (not sure that is a word) or whatever you set your mind to do. And I look forward to staying in touch on FB and Instagram too!

    1. Oh man: I wish I commented more on your posts! I read all of them, but I have to be at the computer to comment because half the time Blogger gets pissed at my phone and deletes them...and then the re-typed thing isn't as good as the first one was. I've always loved your comments whether here or on on FB, your questions, your advice and suggestions.

      I think the most I've ever laughed on trail has been when riding with you. And that's saying a lot, because you know Carlos is a riot. ;) That Foxcatcher ride you and I did together was such a blast and I was thrilled that not only did *I* get to witness your first completion, but I was right there riding with you for it! And to think that none of that would have happened if it hadn't been for our blogs...it's hard to imagine.

      And yes: sharing so much despite the fact that there is a sector of my readership that doesn't like me (comment moderation was *not* started because of spam) finally just became too much. I don't want to second-guess everything I write, wondering how someone is going to point fingers or twist it around or laugh at me behind my back because of it. You can't keep people from doing that when writing publicly on the internet, but I think moving away from the now-cliquey world of equestrian blogging, and maybe onto a different social media platform, will help. We'll see. :)

      Thank you for following along, and for being one of the people that stepped out of the internet into my three-dimensional life! <3 And YES, we need to ride together again!!

  2. I, for one, will be sad to see you go. I caught your blog on the tail end of the "horsey side" and as you were getting more into the personal side and really enjoyed reading about your trip back home to Puerto Rico and learning about the island, culture, and people. Thank you for sharing a piece of you that meant and continues to mean so much to you and your family. I'll continue following you on IG and cheering on your pursuits - physical and mental!

  3. I am so glad that we connected on FB otherwise I would really really miss you. I understand about stopping- it makes sense for you at this point in your life. I just want to keep connected (but not in a creepy stalker way...).

    1. Not creepy-stalkery at all! ;) I'm thrilled we connected on FB too! You have a beautiful life and I love seeing the "behind-the-scenes" that is often missed when you only know someone through their blog.

  4. Consider me old fashioned, I'd rather speak in person about my feelings. Leaving them for others to disect isn't something I'm usually brave enough for. I've followed this blog for a few years. I was involved with horses for about 7 years, never owned, but walking away in early 2017 was heartbreaking. Following your blog as it transformed away from horses helped, because I came here for the horses and their humans perspective and I stayed for the human. The posts I love most are not about horses. As all consuming as horses can be for time, resources, emotions, it is an exhausting endeavor. I love your travels, your daily runs, your vet tech posts, the real fight with and love of food and the motivation to understand and work with your body. I wish you would post food recipes!

    I moved 1,200 miles away from home when I was 18. The amount of emotion, much of it negative, that has amounted over the years as a result is difficult to deal with, to talk about, to think about. Your posts for home and family, the love of the city your call home now, those things bring me back. I'm sad to see you let it go, but I understand cutting out unnecessary pain. If you ever start another blog, I hope to be there too. You're an amazing writer. Thank you.

    1. Jes, I wanted to tell you how much your comment meant to me. It gave me goosebumps. I might have re-read it several times throughout the course of the day yesterday.

      You see, I kept writing because I had this unshakeable feeling, "Me talking about these things helps others." Even if no one else had spoken up, just hearing this from you validated what I've felt so strongly for the last 2 years.

      I know exactly what you mean re: preferring to speak in person about feelings, because leaving them for others to dissect isn't something you're usually brave enough for. I've lost friends because of misinterpreted texts (which sometimes made it even harder to write here...the capacity for misinterpretation of written material is sometimes mind-boggling) so I really do understand where you're coming from.

      "Thank you" doesn't quite cover it, but thank you for being brave, for commenting, for sharing a little bit of your story with me and for single-handedly validating something I had been feeling so strongly for such a long time. It makes me so happy to know that what I wrote did, in fact, help someone this much. I will most definitely let you know if/when I start another blog. And note taken about the recipes! ;)


  5. I have really enjoyed following your journey. I love your writing style (you can really hear your voice through your words). I'm sorry to hear that you won't be continuing but I completely understand. I have been stepping away from social media and blogging in the past year due to some other big things happening in my life.

    Wishing you all the best in the future <3

    1. I had noticed your absence. I hope the big changes are all good and that your dreams come true! Wishing you the absolute best with your small herd. Thank you for following. <3 <3 <3

  6. I'll miss reading your posts, but am so glad to have gotten the chance to meet in person. I've always enjoyed reading your blog, although I was often remiss in commenting with regularity...I can often think of what I want to say in my head, but somehow, it doesn't translate as well as I hoped for in writing, or I wanted to comment on *too* much and would get overwhelmed with how much to address along the day. :) Glad you're still on FB and IG and we can still stay connected that way!

    1. I too, am glad that we could meet in person! Your adventures with both endurance and running were (and continue to be) as influential for me as Mel's! I'm so happy to see your dreams coming true one by one. <3 And yes: cheers to staying connected through FB and IG! :)

  7. Your positive sharing will be missed in this space. I don't comment (on any blog) often for personal reasons that involve some issues with stalkers; it's also a reason I stopped blogging myself. That being said, it's not fair to say that's the only reason I have not commented more than once on your blog. Your posts are (were) very thought provoking and I would sometimes come back to read, more than once, in order to try to process what I read. Please consider that sentiment a compliment! As I mentioned before, I stopped blogging... I "got out" of horses. Therefore, reading your blog in recent times, was like hearing from a friend going through a similar struggle. Who was I without horses? You encouraged me to explore the idea. Ironically, I've been an amateur lifter for about 6 or 7 years now (mind you, not at your level!). So to say I resonated with your posts would be an understatement. Thank you for sharing as much as you did. I look forward to following you positive spirit on IG. Cheers!

    1. Thank you so much for following and for your comment Rebecca. <3 Your comments in the past were one of the things that motivated me to continue exploring out loud a life where horses are not center stage anymore.

      And thank you for interpreting my writing as positive, because I've been flamed on here before for being too "negative" when I chose to write about subjects that are, simply, real.

      I didn't know you also lift!!! *fist pump*

  8. Glad I will still be able to follow along on FB and IG ❤️ I understand your reasons for stepping away, but will miss your posts (especially the tales from the trenches!).

  9. Glad I can still follow you on IG :) You are always such an inspiration and as others have said, I love your writing style. I never comment as much as I should perhaps but I've always loved reading your posts!

    1. Briana, I think you are among the handful of people that have been following me the longest. Seeing your occasional posts and your "likes" on my photos on IG always makes me smile. Your comment on being a fellow empath on a post I wrote...2 years ago? is still among my all-time favorites. You made me feel like I wasn't alone.

      Thank you for following. <3

  10. I love you. I suspect we'll be talking more than ever, but I will so dearly miss this space. Your blog is the first thing that pops up if I hit "w" in my address bar. I suspect that one of these days, I'll be making a similar decision, and I hope I can do it with the eloquence you've mustered here. The blogging world has changed my life in so many wonderful ways... and one of them was meeting you. For that, I am forever grateful <3

    1. Your comment made me ugly cry, Dom. Towards the end, I was basically writing because I looked forward to your comments so much: I felt you "got" everything I had to say and you always confirmed it. It's rare to find that.

      I love you too, and I hope we do keep talking more from here on out! <3

  11. I already said it on FB, but I will be sad to see you go. It seems like the old style “story teller” blogs are dying out and being replaced with glitzy product reviews and “how to” posts by people who’ve been around for about as long as my newest saddle.

    Maybe I’m just getting old and out of touch, it did take me about 10 minutes to figure out how to log in to comment here on this newfangled smartphone. Kidding aside, I wish you the best and as soon as I figure out how the hell to follow you on IG I will. (Is it just me, or is IG hard to operate? It’s probably just me.)

    1. Your comments here and on FB about being too old for these new platforms and apps and phones and blogging styles made me laugh out loud x2, because I feel you so much on all of them!

      I saw you succeeded on IG though! Following you back! <3

      Also: like I said on FB, you are such a badass. I always loved the honesty with which you wrote about struggling with, and fighting through, the limitations your body tried to impose on you + keeping horses at home + training a young OTTB + family responsibilities.

      Thank you for commenting and for following. <3

  12. The only reason I'm not super bummed right now is what Dom said above - there's even more of an excuse to communicate in real time. I understand why this decision makes sense for you, but I will surely miss your thoughtful, thought provoking writing. This blog has richness, depth and character - just like you.

    Maybe the universe is telling you that you should be working on a book?! Oh yeah - I know a fantastic illustrator too ;D

    Till we meet again my friend - xxxooo

    1. You and Dom pretty much single-handedly made writing in this space worthwhile, and I'm so glad this blog led me to both of you.

      As a kid I wanted to grow up to write books and illustrate them myself...it is an idea that has not been discarded. ;D

      Till we meet again! xoxoxo

  13. I will miss following along. I rarely comment on blogs because of a combination of laziness and anxiety, but I always love reading blogs of people I've followed for a long time because it feels like sitting down and catching up. I wish you the best of luck with your endeavors and will still love seeing your beautiful run photos on IG. :)

  14. I'm sad to see you go but I completely understand - there were a couple times as the way people blog and interact with blogs shifted that I considered shuttering the doors. It's hard to keep writing, even for oneself when it feels like no one is listening.

    If it makes you feel better comments are down overall across the board, and I don't think it has anything with asking a probing question at the end of the post. It has most to do with how people are reading blogs these days (phones) and how cumbersome commenting on the phone is for most people (a lot of it is a mental block). It used to be you could go comment on blogs and expect a bit of reciprocation (I sit at a desk all day so it's a bit easier for me to read and comment than for other people who work on their feet). It's not that way anymore. I ran a bit of experiment last year focusing on a different blog every month and engaging with the content and the writer and seeing if it elicited the response I know it would have in 2014. Crickets. It was really disheartening to put that much work into a one way interaction.

    I am also very sorry that you felt pressure from outside sources to write a certain way or on certain subjects. I totally get that too, the tone of our blogs is also what engages readers and when we don't feel fully like ourselves (overly angry, faking happiness, talking about things that actually don't interest us that much) we feel the interaction is empty in a way and that's not the point of blogging at all.

    Continue to shine on.

    1. I'm fascinated by your experiment! I did something similar in the beginning of this blog with similar results. It wasn't until I started connecting with other endurance riders that my following didn't truly pick up, which I found interesting.

      I think part of the issue is that most of us that have been blogging for years have grown up or moved on, either from Blogland or horses, because of families, jobs, other priorities. Blogging for this group is sporadic and commenting even more so. I'd say this is the case for about 75% of the endurance riders that used to follow one another here; I'm still in contact with most of them but through FB or IG instead. So now there are all of these new bloggers that are younger and aren't as into in-depth material. They want to read about trendy expensive tack or riding gear (those posts make. me. crazy) or the latest eventing adventure. I would love to say I'm exaggerating about the eventing trend, but it seems like any equestrian blogger that suddenly decides to drop their sport to take up eventing, specifically, suddenly ends up with a million responsive followers. No problems with comments if you're an eventer. It's turned into a cliquey popularity contest that reminds me way too much of high school: this is one of the driving forces behind my decision to disassociate myself from equestrian bloggers for good.

      You nailed it: "It's hard to keep writing, even for oneself when it feels like no one is listening."

      And also: "the tone of our blogs is also what engages readers and when we don't feel fully like ourselves (overly angry, faking happiness, talking about things that actually don't interest us that much) we feel the interaction is empty in a way and that's not the point of blogging at all." <- YES.

      Thank you for following, L.

      And P.S.: EXCELLENT article on The Plaid Horse!!!

    2. Thanks I appreciate it! I will see you on IG at least! I'll get you in the loop on my next steps, we're thinking of starting a group of some kind, not facebook but like a spotlight interview kind of thing.

      Best of Luck!

    3. I would love that! Do let me know when you start the group!

  15. I'm sorry you're not going to be blogging anymore. I'll continue following you on Instagram. I'm sadly one of those readers who hasn't been commenting, but I have been enjoying reading along. I actually really enjoyed your journey into body sculpting (maybe a year ago). It's not something I have any interest in, but it was really fascinating to learn about a whole other world. I didn't comment because I didn't really know what to say. I know what to say about horse posts, but not about weights and running and any of that. I hope you keep on posting on IG though so I can follow along. Be happy!

    1. Like L said above: it's hard to continue writing, even for oneself, when it feels like no one is listening. It's one thing with a new blog just starting out. But when over time you go from 40 comments/post to 1-2 despite post hits remaining the same: that really starts to get to you after a while. Especially when you're talking about heavy subjects like women's rights and defying gender roles and prejudice and really personal details about your life that people IRL don't know about you: you *want* your readers to engage in a conversation. It's just a different type of writing, and my writing has outgrown this space where most people simply write for fun and entertainment. I love writing and is second only to lifting in terms of how much I enjoy it...but it is incredibly taxing to write publicly in so much detail for what has felt for naught. I can just write privately in a journal and not feel exposed.

      Lauren from She Moved to Texas experienced the same thing with her blog and comments. She had two options: ceasing the blog altogether or disabling comments so as to stop expecting them. She chose to disable comments. I'm choosing to move on from this blog.

      Thank you for following. <3 And yes, I will keep posting on IG! :)

  16. I will miss reading your stories, horsey, adventures, or anything else. Sorry if I was one of the readers but not commentors. I think there are fewer comments too because people are busy and prefer the "like" button aspect of social media. Which is why I prefer the long-format blog over facebook, IG, etc. Well, best of luck with future endeavors!

  17. I'm really sorry to see you go but I support you and your decision from afar :) I have followed your blog for several years now, and if it has to end, then I mostly just want to thank you.

    If I had to pick my favorite parts of your blog over the years it would be really really hard. I loved following along on your endurance-related posts because I respect the discipline and enjoyed your approach to it. Your posts about work and tales from the trenches always cut me to core and made me grateful to the universe for people like you in that profession. Your music selection is on-point. AF. every time. I crumbled into pieces reading your posts about your family and beloved island after the hurricane and thought of you SO often during that time. I was amazed by your adaptability moving to a new place and adopting your new city so thoroughly. Thank you for passionately educating about your heritage and culture in a way that is so visceral it is more like sharing than educating. That's a kindness we didn't deserve. When you took up powerlifting and bodybuilding you let us look behind the curtain, again, with your writing- sharing the things other people usually don't. You and Carlos dancing together under a bridge in the dark...I mean, really?!?!!? I am here for THAT. The way you describe your connection with animals makes me constantly re-evaluate how I listen. You are one hell of an artist. Thanks for being real and true and I'm sorry some people took advantage of those moments to be unkind- the rest of us were enchanted by it.

    I'm bummed we (your readers) took you for granted and didn't let you know how much we appreciate you. I hope you find new ways to tell your stories and I'll be following along on your Instagram.

    1. Shelby, I wanted to really sit down to respond to your comment which is why it's taken me two days to reply.

      You made me both grin from ear-to-ear and cry! "Thank you" as a response for "getting" what I was trying to say all along doesn't quite cut it. But thank you: for understanding my intent, for appreciating it, for learning from it, and for your empathy <3 <3 <3 and for taking the time to tell me about it.

      Also: I laughed re: my music selection being "on point AF." There came a time where I was wondering if I should stop sharing my music. Blogger is an enormous PITA when it comes to directly sharing YouTube videos: it won't let me find original music videos from the post editor. I'd have to track videos down in YouTube, copy the html code, embed it in the blog post, and then edit it so it would show up the way I wanted it to. You are the second person to specifically comment on it since I published this post, and I love it because just knowing two people appreciated it made all the hassle worthwhile!

      Thank you, again, so so much. <3

  18. Please change your mind! You have so much to share that people need to hear.

  19. Oh, my. I wondered how long we'd have, and now I know. Not long enough, but you have to follow your heart. You are a champion at that. I loved your tales from the trenches. I loved your openness about being an empath and the magic that happens daily. I love the way you write about your relationship with your husband (goals!) and your animals. Because of you, I am determined to visit Puerto Rico one day (and not just to see Hamilton, although how cool was that!) and walk "your" beach. I've done eventing, and I want to try endurance and gaited horses. I read a number of blogs and enjoy the community aspect of it even though I don't write one. I'm not sure I will be able to follow you to Insta, but I will try to figure it out.
    Please keep writing in a way that works for you; the world needs. your. voice.
    Now more than ever, your fan,
    Betsy in WI

    1. Betsy, you were another that motivated me to continue writing because you "got" what I was trying to say. I would really like to stay in touch with you! I am friends on Facebook with several of the bloggers above if you'd like to find me there. I just have the most common name ever: Nicole Alvarez, so I'm kind of hard to find with just a regular search. My current profile pic is the one above where I'm kissing Gracie on the nose. :)

    2. Actually, this should make it easier: https://www.facebook.com/ntorrech

  20. I have been one of the silent followers/readers, having found my way here by way of blogs of bloggers posting above. I found your writing, whether about horses, vet tech, lifting, or Puerto Rico, to be very interesting, insightful, and informative. Sometimes we need to see things thru other people's eyes to have a better understanding. You've done that for me with what you've shared about your native land, your Puerto Rico. I never would have known different if you had not shared with us. I will miss looking for your newest post. I'm not currently on IG, but hope our paths will cross again somewhere out in cyberland.

    1. Thank you so much for this Sheryl. Puerto Rico was such an important topic and it's awesome to know that people could relate and understand. <3 I suspect our paths will cross again. ;)

  21. Long time reader here. In fact, you were my first and your blog introduced me to Thee Ashke which then introduced me to other blogs that I follow today. It all started out with my research on the alta escuela. I wanted to see how it would work for you over time. Ironic, because now you mostly ride bareback.

    Anyways, Ive tried to comment every once in a while but to no avail. I read off my ipad and somehow your site does not recognize my google profile. Case in point, this is my 12th attempt this morning. Usually I would give up after 2-3 attempts. But today I was more motivated.

    On other sites when this happens I can comment anonymously and then its just annoying to do the catcha quiz. But at least I dont lose my comment. Fingers crossed this comment makes it through.

    So thanks for the stories (loved the ones about your childhood with your gaited horses and your grandpa) and for the introduction to a whole world of bloggers.

    Your spirit was an inspiration!

    1. Thank you for taking the trouble of continuing to try so that I could get to "meet" you! Blogger comments have been very glitchy for a long time now...I allowed Google+ comments for a while but then Blogger users couldn't comment and it didn't allow for comment moderation, so I had to revert. As a general rule I try to respond to all reader comments but Blogger stopped recognizing my phone...I'd write lengthy thoughtful responses to the amazing comments I'd get, and then lose them when I tried to publish my responses from my phone...which then meant having to respond from my computer, which didn't always happen. This on my own blog! So I very much understand your frustration.

      The Alta is still my favorite saddle ever. It was the most comfortable for endurance rides (I only stopped using it because it was so heavy), it puts me in the best position for dressage-type work, making it very near effortless for me, and I am forever fascinated by the fact that one saddle fit two horses with such different body types as well as it did. That's not supposed to happen! For Lily a thick wool pad was enough "shimming" to make it work. With Gracie I just needed a thin cotton pad between her and the saddle. The girth galling issue I had with G-Mare and the Alta was my only complaint, and that was a Gracie anatomy issue; it would have been resolved with center fire rigging if I had wanted to continue using it for endurance, but galling has not been an issue with our shorter arena rides. I ride mostly bareback because it was a lifelong dream: to have a horse that I could just swing up on and ride sans saddle whenever, and the physical strength on my end to be able to do it. This was not feasible with Lily; it is with Gracie. But the Alta is still my first choice when I reach for a saddle. :)

      Thank you again for the comment! I will see you in cyberspace. ;)

  22. Thank you sharing your story, I have enjoyed being able to come along for part of the journey. I came for the horses, I stayed for the heart.

    Thank you for staying true to yourself and going where you need to go to do that, even if that means we can't come with you.

    I hope this is not a horrible thing to say.. I actually stopped reading (unfollowed) for a while there because I didn't enjoy the drama that Lily brought you, because I wanted to tell you to do what you eventually did, but it was not my place to tell you that, it was your place to choose, yours and yours alone. The Lily drama was wearing me out, I can't imagine how it must have been for you.

    But I'm so glad that I checked back in with your blog one day, because I could see things were changing in your story and I really enjoyed the journey of discovery you shared. I learned a lot about things I would never have 'joined' for - about strength sports and women, about your work, about the home you've chosen, about the home you went back to visit, about growing up with horses on the island. Most of all, the thing I enjoyed learning about most was what your experience of mainlaind US in these years. As a person on the other side of the world, to see the news about what's happening there, it's impossible for me to tell what real people feel about it, how real people are impacted by it. Thank you for telling part of that story for me.

    Sorry for not being involved and commenting sooner. I was struggling with a few things and didn't have the reserves to articulate the nuances of the response deserved.

    Best wishes with wherever your journey takes you!

    1. It's honestly really good to know that someone turned **away** at the time everything was awful with Lily. The amount of empathy and support we received during those times was wonderful but it's a verifiable fact that if you have an injury-prone horse and you write about all of your problems with said horse, you are going to receive a lot more hits and comments. I didn't realize I had turned into the writer of a train wreck blog until I chose to stop writing about the subject...and there was a noticeable decline in audience interest. At the time I sincerely wondered if there wasn't a morbid entertainment factor to the popularity the blog had during those times, especially when noticing the same trend on other blogs.

      I appreciate you withholding advice...though at the same time, I think it might have helped to hear it, to know that I would not be judged for choosing to move on from Lily. Though I understand why you chose to bite your tongue, as it is such a personal thing, and I have done the same when reading other blogs where I'm like, "Why doesn't she just stop?" It's really hard to read when you're afraid for the safety of the writer. My decision to move on was helped by knowing other bloggers and friends in similar situations who made the same decision. It's hard to move on from a horse that is not working for you when you feel like the horse is also owned by an audience who admires your perseverance. There is definitely a reward system in Blogland for sticking by an impossible equine partner through thick and thin...even when the relationship with said equine partner is damaging to you, be it physically, mentally, emotionally or all of the above. I'm still pretty sure that my decision to sell Lily was heavily judged by some who chose to not say it, but at the same time they weren't the ones being drained emotionally and financially by trying to make the relationship with Lily work. "If only, if only..." I exhausted all of the "if onlys," and while I'm happy to be able to say that now, selling Lily was so incredibly liberating that I wish I had done it two years ago. I feel guilty for saying that I don't feel guilty at all and I am thrilled that I don't have to live in a constant state of stress and anxiety about everything related to that mare. It was the first time I bought a horse for $1 and it is certainly the last...she was the second time I made an exception to my "No Thoroughbreds" rule, and it is also the last time I make that kind of exception.

      You are the second international reader to comment re: my blog making Americans seem more real. It's wonderful to know that: my goal was to talk about the negative aspects while still highlighting the positives and bringing out the humanity in so many people that we've met since moving stateside. No place is perfect, and there are better places than this one to live in if you are so fortunate...but there is still a lot of good here, and it is a special thing to get to experience it. I'm glad that that is tangible in my writing.

      Thank you for following and for your thoughtful comments over the years. I hope our paths cross again in cyberspace! <3

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Mary, I wanted to thank you so much for the comment; I was touched. In catching up today I realized that you removed it. But in case you come back and see this: thank you thank you. <3

    2. Sorry, I didn't mean to remove! My tiny laptop has a touchscreen that seems to have a mind of it's own. I was serious though. Balance in life is rare and seeing you find it was truly inspiring. Thank you again for including us on the journey.

  24. Hey, I missed part 4 of the year end wrap up series! Rats, though I get why you would take it it down. I had legit stalkers, there is a reason I was the last person on the planet to join FB. (Also why there are few pics of me out there & why I'm renewing my gun license, but enough about me.)
    I'll missing reading your blog posts, I second everything EquiNovice said! I won't miss typing out a response & having blogger eat it, like just happened AGAIN. That might help explain the comments drop off, I think it's across the board in blog land. Loved reading about life outside of horses, found you through another horse blog and stayed for the writing. So sorry the posts about PR & non-horse life weren't as well received as they should have been, they were seriously great!
    Cannot believe you ended this with a Douglas Adams quote, I met him 30+ years ago & he signed my copy! <3

    1. Messaging you. ;) And yes: I LOVE Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy!!

  25. Hey Nicole. Thank you so much for sharing all that you have. I totally get closing down the blog and I respect you for it. I came for the horse stories and stayed because your life has been so damn interesting! I appreciate immensely the vulnerability and dedication you gave. I'll miss reading the stories from work but appreciate all that you did share. Just like everything else, it all has a season and a time. Thank you for willingly sharing all you did - and watching/readying you go from thinking about weight lifting and fitness competition to this hardcore weightlifter badass has been utterly inspiring. YOU GO GIRL! Big hug.

    1. Sarah your comment made me grin from ear to ear! Thank you. <3 Big hug back!!!

  26. I think we've talked about this elsewhere, but just in case not: I've really appreciated and admired your blog and your journey, and I'm psyched we'll get to keep in touch despite the end of this chapter. I am not a good commenter for many reasons, mostly related to shifts in technology and also related to loving long-form writing but often taking a long time to read it and thus being way behind the response curve. Communication is weird and complicated; it's good to try out different stuff and see what fits.

    I'm very glad to have gotten to know you and very glad that I still get to know you, whatever happens next. <3

  27. Thanks for this post - very interesting. I blogged years ago, left and am now coming back to reading and following people. I read your blog in the past and was sad to read this post, but totally get it as well. I'm off to follow you on Instagram. Very interesting to read your words about people not asking questions about your heritage. I'm Canadian and I guess we are different when it comes to that sort of stuff. I would love to know about where you are from and who you are. I visited San Juan for a day and studied Spanish in school, so would love to have the opportunity to learn more about both!