Something Awesome This Way Comes

It’s been a while since I’ve written. It’s been kind of hectic around here this last part of the year. A lot of traveling. Gigi spent 30 days out at my trainer’s place in Southern Pines during the month of October so we could both get a tune-up on our jumping…so I was back and forth to Southern Pines once or twice a week there for a while. A LOT of driving and of course it was during a crazy hurricane season, so every single drive included 1-1,000 detours and took 1-2 hours longer than it should have based on where in B.F.E. I happened to get derailed. Despite it all, it was well worth it. I got a jumping confidence boost and Gigi got some quality time with a professional. It really felt like we were getting somewhere…until…we got home.

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First jumping lesson at the first “new home” was not super awesome sauce. It was more like…a burp…a belch really. Look at the shameful lower leg among other atrocities.

I decided to switch barns when she got back from training. An awesome opportunity popped up at a new place and I just couldn’t pass it up. As it often happens though, it ended up not being a good fit. As luck would have it, my name popped up on the waiting list at Russell’s Reach – a place I’ve been in line for since I bought Gigi this summer. So while it wasn’t necessarily awesome timing, we switched barns AGAIN.  Three different barns, three different feeding regimens, three different ways of doing things, three different places for Gigi to find zombies in the woods…all in about the span of a month and a half.

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Me: Gigi, I’ve got a great idea. Since we’re already a complete mess because I don’t do change well, let’s body clip you and begin the great blanketing debacle of 2016. Gigi: There is a strong possibility you will regret this life choice.

When you take into consideration that I’ve also got, you know…a family…and they have their own set of needs – traveling for the holidays, birthday parties, and other various commitments (never mind the exhaustion of the day-to-day grind)…I think it’s fair to say that we’ve been in town at our own home about 3 weekends out of the last 3 months. I am…burnt out. And while Gigi is fairing a bit better than I, I think she’s sort of over it too.

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Gigi at her FINAL new home. We love it here. Clearly, I am starting to feel more like myself because I found time to make lousy braids to try to tame that mane and a stupid sign in my never-ending attempt to voice-over Gigi.

So I’ve been riding, but I’ve not been killing her or me. We both needed a mental break from it all. And I just needed riding to be the getaway again…not just work. So when I got a friendly reminder about a horse show I committed to next weekend, I was anxious to say the least. I feel under-prepared. I feel we have not had enough jumping lessons between the glory days of 30 day training and today. I’ve been goofing around a bit and also worrying tirelessly over proper blanket fit.

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I give you, sheet number FIVE. Yes, that’s the fifth sheet I’ve bought that does not quite fit right. Apparently, Gigi is not a horse, but some sort of camel-horse-buffalo blend and so no horse blanket fits her. Shoot me.

But I’m one of those people who feels like when you make a commitment, you make a commitment. So I’m still not feeling really confident about my jumping and I’m scared we will embarrass the hell out of ourselves at this show? So I’ve been traveling non-stop for months on end and I’m DOG FUCKING TIRED? So what? Suck it up, buttercup. I’ve got this theory that “life” never happens at a convenient time, so one must just put one foot in front of the other and march on. So that’s what I intend to do.

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I give you living evidence that sometimes life isn’t fair. Here is Talin, spending YET ANOTHER one of his weekends hauling me and Gigi around. He’s getting pretty handy as a groom. No seriously, he’s getting brave. That day he unloaded and loaded Gigi all by himself. I do want you to know that he tried to “double knot” Gigi’s leadline to the trailer here. I took a quick picture and then ran over there to show him how to tie a quick release.

So today was day 1 of 5 of consecutive pre-show rides. It went okay. I’m really trying to help Gigi loosen up and get to bending properly, so that’s always a bit of a battle. But we had a few nice transitions. We cantered a couple of ground poles so I could work on my jumping position and distances. It wasn’t bad, but I’m not going to say I feel confident about this weekend.

I’ve been trying to visualize us completing a course perfectly because I’m a firm believer in visualization. But try as I might, I just can’t relax and see us through a whole mental course. There is always a hiccup and this makes me nervous that I will just fail Gigi miserably this weekend. I had myself all worked up about it today when I picked Luke up from school.

After a long silence on the way back home, he asked, “What are you thinking about, Mommy?”

“Honestly?” I said, looking at him in the rear view mirror. “I’m thinking about how nervous I am about this horse show this weekend.”

“But you won all those ribbons at the last show. You shouldn’t be nervous.”

“Yeah, but the last show was a much smaller show. This is a bigger show. There will be many, many riders who are much, much better than me,” I explained.

“So what exactly are you nervous about?” he asked.

And so I just like had a total nervous breakdown rant to my six year-old because frankly, in an entire day, he might just be the only human I come into contact with and I was just sort of waiting for someone to ask. “I’m nervous I won’t see a distance and we’ll crash into or over a jump and I’ll fall off and hurt myself. I’m worried Gigi won’t listen to me. I’m worried I won’t know what to tell her even if she does choose to listen.”

Luke just sat back there for a second and then said, “Sometimes we have to do scary things, Mommy. Sometimes we have to be scared. You know what I do when I’m scared? I think about something awesome. Maybe you should think about riding Gigi on the beach while you are jumping. Maybe you guys are running on the beach and hopping over waves.”

Oh, wise little one. I am glad you are coming to the horse show this weekend. I am glad I taught you that we have to face our fears so that you could remind me when I forget. I’m fine with the fact that you are mostly excited to come to the horse show because it means we get to stay in a hotel. I’m fine that you will probably be a large distraction for at least a portion of the day. Because you will be my happy thought on course Saturday. My “something awesome” will be you.

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“Something Awesome” riding double with his friend over Thanksgiving break. 

“Don’t forget what happened to the [wo]man who suddenly got everything [s]he wanted.”

Howdy! It’s been a while. So much has happened, dear God.

Let’s see. Last month we went on a vacation to Disney World…the worst HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH!!!

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Trying to make the best of Disney…

 

While I was regrettably away and because Gigi is possibly the most spoiled horse on the planet, I hired a pony sitter so she’d get ridden and loved on and basically not be a nightmare when I got home.

I ride at a mixed discipline facility, so Gigi got to enjoy Western Pleasure camp while I was away. We learned that Gigi jogs, knows spur commands and is basically awesome except for the fact she thinks there are DEFINITELY VAMPIRES IN THE WOODS BEHIND THE BARN. They tried and I think, failed, a relaxing trail ride in the shade, but Gigi was insistent that this decision was unwise. Many, many props to Gigi’s pony sitter, Rachel. She’s leaving us and moving on to bigger and better things down in Georgia – got her eye on a Congress win – and she will be missed greatly by all of us. I wish her the very best of luck and will likely stalk her progress on Facebook.

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Rachel taking Gigi to cowgirl camp.

After that I came home and worked, worked, worked with Gigi. If you know me, then it’s common knowledge that I’m a very goal-oriented person. There’s not much I do just for the sake of doing it. I know, I know: What’s wrong with me? So we came back from vacation with the goal of attending my barn’s schooling show on September 17th. I wanted to get a feel for how we behave together with a bunch of people standing around judging us before we haul off to another city to embarrass ourselves, lol.

We planned to do the little Novice division, which was three flat classes and a small jumping class: 18 inch fences, one lap around the outside, four fences total. Seems so simple, right? RIGHT?! It should be simple. When I left competitive riding as a teenager, I was schooling 3′ with intent and ability to go much higher, but lacked horse talent to carry me over the fences. This left me competing 2’6″ -2’9″ depending on what kind of horse I could drum up.  But now…these little mole humps I’m attempting to jump seem like GODFORSAKEN MOUNTAINS, I TELL YOU. It’s a hilarious mind-trip I’ve given myself.

I guess years and age and you know…a healthy sense of my own mortality…have altered my eyeballs and now every fence looks absolutely enormous. And when they don’t look enormous, I see bad spots – these horrible, catastrophic long spots. You know, when you completely mess up the striding and are forced into an awkward half stride or a HUGE, simply STUPID long jump that can easily end in all kinds of disaster? Seeing the spot…that’s my biggest fear/downfall/problem. And it’s kept me from jumping this mare who is a bold, brave, strong, jumping machine for far, far too long.

So my plan was…get our flat work pretty solid, pop over a few fences schooling and then hang on for dear life and hope we make it around this little Novice course and sort of rip the band-aid off. Ok, ok, ok. OKAY?! That’s what I told myself.

So like a week before the show, I embark on some supervised jumping with my weekly instructor and yeah, we made it over a few jumps, but they weren’t pretty. I saw visions of the 9,000 hours of YouTube videos of horrific jumping accidents I’d watched (WHY?) in my head and I fell apart and my heels came up and I was so far forward in the saddle, I was practically laying on Gigi’s neck in fear/anticipation/TERROR.

And she’s all, “FINALLY! WE’RE JUMPING! YAAAASSSSSS!” She completely ignored all my very poorly executed signals to slow down or stop, so sort of charged around the ring leaping over tiny fences. I had this out of body experience where I could see how hilarious this was, but I couldn’t laugh. It’s like when you’re on a roller-coaster and you want/need to scream but you just open your mouth really wide and nothing comes out. It was a mess, lol.

So anyway, the week before the show, I woke up at 3:00 a.m. every day just like crazy-out-of-my-mind excited and nervous, because this teeny-tiny little show was basically the the culmination of every dream I’d had my ENTIRE LIFE. I mean, not showing at a schooling show – that’s not the dream. It’s like…showing your very own horse who you’ve worked really hard on and seeing what happens. That’s sort of the dream. I don’t know…that’s not quite right either. Let me shape that thought and get back to you. All I can tell you was…it felt like…one of those life moments. Felt like I was about to check something big off the list.

The day before the show, I went to school her for the last time and a few people were up there riding. I was just a bunch of nerves and our ride wasn’t going awesome – super slow, pokey, a real struggle. Another rider in the ring had a pretty good fall and her horse went joy-galloping riderless around the ring and tried to run into us. Gigi totally kept her head screwed on tight through all of it, but something about the day just felt like a bad omen…a warning of some kind…and I was sort of rocked by it all. Perhaps, this wasn’t a good idea?

I missed all my favorite trainers that day. I missed the ones who could read my mind – Lorna (I miss you), Pat (I wish I could find you!), Eileen (bless you, you terrifying nightmare). The next morning, after I had woken up before the sun (FIRST PSYCHO AT THE BARN – YEAH!), braided Gigi and tacked her up, I stood outside of the slightly chaotic schooling ring and tried to channel them. Lorna would say, “Just breathe.” Pat would say, “This moment. You stay in this one. This mare is the same mare you rode yesterday, last week, last month. Do not pretend she is some other horse. Ride the horse you know to get the one you want.” And Eileen would say, in a loud British accent so that everyone could hear, “Stop your whining you big baby, you’re fine. Now go ride your pony.”

So we marched on into the ring with like 20 little kids walking/trotting/cantering haphazardly around and I carved myself a 20 meter circle at one end of the ring. Gigi was a super cool, classy lady. I asked for three quick transitions in each direction and she gave them easily. It was like she knew what was happening – strange, I know – and was giving me the best possible version of herself. We hacked around the ring once in each direction to get a good look at everybody and she looked once and then let it all go. Three or four different people, to my surprise (?), told us what a nice mare she was as we walked out of the ring. Sort of felt like my heart might explode out of pride.

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Gigi’s all sanging, “This is how we doooo it!”

Photo Credit: Michele Allison Equine Photography

And then, sort of like your wedding day…I can’t remember much. Just blips and freeze-framed moments. But I know we had a good day, lol. I remember that. Check out that nice second place finish at the end of this video. I’m calling her “No More Grey Skies” per the winner of the show name contest a while back. You can’t see me take my victory strut as Talin practically broke his phone trying to clap his hands and scream when they called our names, lol.

We ended up entering in one of the Adult divisions too and did quite well in both. She was a bit strong and we had a couple of humorous mishaps, but we did pretty well. Example: Judge is all, “Trot, please.” So I’m all, “Trot, please.” Gigi’s like, “What about I canter another lap, then do a flying lead change and then maybe I’ll trot?” Damn you, Gigi.

In the end, I decided to skip the jumping. I didn’t think we were ready and I didn’t want to mess up a perfectly good day pushing us to do something when we likely needed much more practice.

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I’d call that a good day.

The bottom line is…neither of us are going to the Olympics. We harbor no delusions of riding professionally. There is no rush to get anywhere. Why? Because we are already there.

I realized this that day and every day since: that taking her to this show wasn’t the moment I had dreamed of my entire life. It wasn’t the moment I was always trying to get to and missing, but then finally, finally finding. No. Walking out to her paddock that next day, I was reminded of what the moment was. I could define it. It was unfolding real-time before my very eyes. There – RIGHT THERE – the second she recognized me, ears trained in on me like spot lights. Right when she saw me and started walking towards me tail a-swishing…walking to me, her person. That is the moment I’d always dreamed of.

I keep waiting for my house to light on fire or all the equipment to get stolen out of the shop or for some other catastrophically horrible thing to happen. Because seriously? Who gets to live that moment – the one you’ve always dreamed of – every single day? I mean, really?

But maybe the other shoe doesn’t have to drop. Maybe it’s like Mr. Wonka says. Maybe what happens when you suddenly get everything you ever wanted is you just get to live happily ever after. I hope so.

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Happiest place on earth…

Photo Credit: Michele Allison Equine Photography

 

 

 

GiGi and I Have At Least One Thing in Common: RBF

Today I woke up S-O-R-E. I went to hot yoga yesterday to try to work out some mind-chatter and also to loosen up a bit. Don’t let ANYONE tell you yoga isn’t work. The particular class I go to (mind you, I haven’t been in probably a year) at BeUnlimited Yoga runs an hour and 15 minutes at 105 degrees and 50% humidity. The first couple of times you do it, you feel a little like you are swimming through your own sweat and despair, but it’s worth it. It’ll make your mind razor-sharp and it’s my go to when I’m feeling sort of discombobulated. I feel like a ninja when I come out of that place…for about 25 minutes…then I usually pass out into a coma for a couple hours. It also helps with my finicky knees, which I have injured countless times. Got a stability issue? A muscle injury? Joint pain? Go to yoga, go to yoga, go to yoga. I’ve somehow gotten out of ACL surgery because of it. I’m what one might call a “true believer.”

So at one point, I’m in yoga, staring at myself in the mirror doing standing bow and I realize: I have Resting Bitch Face (RFB).

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I mean, people have told me this before, but I didn’t really believe them. It’s so irritating because everyone’s always asking me, “Are you okay?”

And I’m like, “Yes. I’m fine.”

“You look pissed off.”

“I’m fine. I feel great. I’m relaxing,” I always say and then hope they just drop it. Because I really am fine. But if you keep asking me, I won’t be fine anymore. I’ll be super annoyed with you. My RBF is why I usually don’t like to hang out with new people. I tend to stay close to those who already know me well because they completely disregard my facial expressions. They know that if I’m upset about something, I’ll let them know immediately. Ask my husband – I don’t have lot of emotional reserve.

Gigi, as it turns out, also has RBF. Generally, unless you have a treat, she regards you as just another fixture of her surroundings. Children often get a kind look from her, but it’s only because she knows little humans often pack sugar cubes. It has nothing to do with their charm. But really her RBF has nothing to do with what mood she’s in or is an indicator of how she will behave or perform either. It’s just her. I get it.

This morning we had our second lesson of the week. I let her have the day off yesterday after our lackluster performance at Tuesday’s lesson. We both needed a little defrag. But today, despite our RBF, we had basically an awesome lesson. Some really nice quiet canters, some really decent forward movement here and there. And because we were a little more in sync, my trusty instructor let us pop over a couple of teeny-weeny fences. Now those were a little silly, but I’m out of practice. That will come. But the flat work – a vast improvement. So much so, that I’m inclined to take GiGi for a spin in a couple of shows next month.

Now, now. Don’t expect any ribbons. We are going more as participants then competitors. But, as my friend Lynne says, “Just showing up is more than most people do. All you have to do at first, is be there.”

Lost in Translation

I haven’t written in a while – but everything is going well!

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Proof that we are still at it: GiGi enjoying her new stall guard. I’m told she utilizes it often.

This summer is CRAZY. And the last few weeks have been a frustrating time to ride: It’s just hot and rainy. Every day. When it’s not hot and rainy, I have to be somewhere: baseball with Luke or driving back and forth to Southport to participate in the never-ending boat repair saga or the dog gets sick and needs to go to the vet. It’s a pain in the ass sometimes that I still have a life to attend, lol. I’m still getting out there to ride in some capacity about 4 times a week, but I’d like to see her more. I miss her when I’m not there (although she might not feel the same way about me, lol). The barn is definitely my happy place.

I’m having sort of a bummer day about my riding. I had a lesson this morning, which I knew was not going to go well before I even got there as I was really sore and tight from riding yesterday and I just felt…drained. I hate feeling this way going into a lesson. I know that whatever challenges – however small at this stage – will not be met with the best version of myself. This sounds crazy, right? Oh, but I’m so competitive. I’m so competitive, I’m compete with myself.

Since this journey began, I’ve had quite a few people tell me I’m too hard on myself. Perhaps they worry that I miss the joy of all this because of it (My sister would assure you: I am quite joyful.)? Maybe they think it’s not healthy (My sister would probably say: Maybe?)? I’m not sure. It’s a puzzle to me, this reaction. I’m probably confused because I come from a long line of ultra-competitive people, so this is sort of programmed in my genome.

We are all competitive freaks of nature in this gang. Each of us has our own thing we are SUPER competitive about, but then the tendency to want to be “the best around” sort of creeps into everything else from board games to telling a joke. Our family can be summed up by a singular 80’s movie clip and song:

So with all that being said, I have relatively high hopes for me and this mare. And while I’m realistic in knowing we have many, many months of work ahead of us to achieve some of these goals, I can be a little hard on myself. I want to see progress every day, however small, and when we take a step back, I can feel…flustered.

Right now, the things we are working on are so trivial and silly: responding to leg cues, regulating tempo, not staring at “monsters” outside the ring. Gigi is a bit of a slow starter. She’s pokey and lazy and obstinate about any leg I give her the first twenty minutes or so. I have to work so hard to get her to move, I’m a sloppy mess. After the first twenty minutes, she’s a steam train. The slightest bit of leg contact and she’s roaring around the ring. Any correction with the reins and she arches her neck to avoid contact and then runs through my hands. It’s like riding two different horses in every lesson. She’s a challenge for me.

I’ve tried a few different things to work through this with small degrees of success, but today’s lesson was just not up to my standards. It wasn’t horrible, it was just…frustrating. I spent the day watching Olympic jumpers and musing over this situation. Why was yesterday such a good day for us and today so not good? What was the difference?

I finally decided that the difference was I had fresh legs and my patience pants on. And also, I was consistent yesterday. Today, under the watchful eye of my instructor, I wanted immediate results and didn’t take my time. When she didn’t respond to my hectic signals, I rushed around trying to force her into a frame she didn’t want to be in and throwing a dozen confusing cues at her that got lost in the mix. The result was just…bleh. After our lackluster performance, my instructor also made the disappointing suggestion that we refrain from jumping a while longer, until we’ve got the flat figured out. It’s an honest and accurate call on her part, but a little deflating for me, as I’d hope we’d be over the hump after a month or so. But alas, Instructor says: Negative. Student responds: Roger that.

But see, this is why I think my being competitive is a good thing. When I mess up, I don’t just dismiss it. A lot of careful thought goes into the play-by-play of my mistakes. What some might call obsession, I call thoughtful consideration. Some people can process all of this information in an instant, but sometimes it takes ALL DAY for me to realize something. Today, I realized I need to back off and take baby steps again. We need to focus on one goal each day, not a dozen. We need to simplify.

So we will simplify. And I will remind myself that these things don’t come overnight. I will be happy that this mare is uncomplicated, but challenging for me. That said, I can be reassured that I’m positive she’s not out of my league. As my clinician said last month, “Here’s the deal: You are speaking English and she’s speaking Spanish. The good news is, you’ve got some tricks up your sleeve. You know a couple of slang words and enough of her language to get around town, you just need to work on your fluency.”

And he’s right. I’m just learning to speak Spanish right now. And I will try to forget (at least for a while) about the almost fluent rider I used to be and accept the rider I am right now. And we will move forward. Which is why you shouldn’t worry about us. Worry when I don’t show up tomorrow. Worry when I say I want to quit.

In the meantime, enjoy these hilarious photos of me in the show attire that just came in the mail today:

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Darn it, my trash can is in this shot.

 

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Casual show Becky. Collar popped! Cheers!

G Learns All The Lyrics To “Pretty Woman” and I Lose My Voice

Last weekend, I had to go out of town, so G got an unexpected four days off in a row. I sort of knew that wasn’t an awesome thing, but what can one do when life happens? I guess come back to a completely discombobulated horse who may or may not have gone on some sort of weird dirt bender and subsequently lost her mind. I’m not sure what went down over the past four days, but girl was a HOT MESS when I got there yesterday morning. She was so dirty from rolling, I didn’t even recognize her. She was literally black.

Me: WTF, G?

G: I thought you’d left me forever and I spent the last four days grieving in a mud puddle.

So, AN HOUR of grooming later, we rode probably the most ridiculous 45 minutes I have ever spent in the saddle. Just sheer stupid nonsense. I felt like I was riding as a back up dancer in a Missy Elliot video: walk two steps, walk-jog-trot-canter-all-at-the-same-time-somehow, lazy trot for 10 strides, BIG CRAZY-ASS HUGE TROT BECAUSE THE MONSTER IN THE WOODS IS GOING TO FUCKING END US!!!!!

 

If you weren’t aware, horses are not supposed to move to a Missy Elliot-type rhythm.

Literally, the entire ride revolved around just getting ten strides of any gait that looked like she didn’t have Tourette Syndrome. Which we eventually managed, but then that shattered like the glass castle it was because I thought we should keep going instead of just stopping while we were ahead. Try as I might, I could not seem to end on a good note after that. Eventually, I decided us just walking around on a loose rein, exhausted and sweating was a good enough note and hopped off.

Whatever. This is horses. They have good days and bad days just like us. I dusted all that disappointment (we had had some eureka moments the previous week, but where had they gone!) off and told myself I would return the next day and pretend none of this had ever happened.

G: Bahahahahahahaha (evil laugh).

Me: Why are you laughing like that?

I’ll tell you why. Because the next day, it was windy. Regular folks feel a breeze like there was this morning and think, “What a beautiful morning!”

Horse people feel the breeze and say, “Great. Can’t wait to mount up and ride this shit-storm out.”

And a shit-storm it was. But only for the first 15 minutes. After that, Gigi tried to focus a bit. We again worked on transitions and tempo. We are currently working on trotting to the beat of “Pretty Woman” because that was the only song I could think of today. There were some successful moments, but honestly, we have a looonnnggg way to go.

But I’m getting better. Like me, personally. My legs are less floppy, my toes aren’t sticking out as much, my heels are down more often then not. I can feel my posture starting to improve. And when she tried to dump me and leave me for dead at the foot of whatever blood-sucking demon she thinks lives in the woods by the side of the ring, I stuck that shit and stayed on.

Me: WHAT? What you wanna say NOW?

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G: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m just standing here looking sexy in my new fly sheet. ROCKIN’ THIS PLAID!

Me: Don’t change the subject. What do you have to say about your foiled attempt to de-throne me today?

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G: Oh, that? You got lucky. 

 

Peace At Last!

It’s just been a whirlwind first few weeks with my first horse. Right when I thought we were going to have to leave, I arrived at the barn Sunday and both owners greeted me with excellent news: G gets a new pasture with a new shelter and two little pasture mates she gets along with very well. They seemed very concerned with our happiness there and I was…almost so grateful I cried, lol. They explained that they understood my concerns and wanted us to stay and asked if this new situation would entice us to stay put. It did! I’m so happy we get to stay. Now this place has all the things we want and need to be happy!

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G’s new pasture and mates. She seems very happy here. I’m told the donkey hee-haws each time she leaves, lol.

One of my favorite things about this place, is the opportunity to ride and learn from a fantastic professional from Southern Pines. We had our first clinic with him Sunday and learned soooo much. It’s an added benefit that he knows GiGi personally, so he’s able to unlock some things for us very quickly. Right away, we got after those pesky downward transitions. They aren’t perfect yet, but I’ve figured out how to communicate with her better about what I want and she’s responding well. Huge step forward! The takeaway was: We’ve got work to do, but I’m not as bad in the saddle as I sometimes feel, lol, and all those millions of circles I’ve been doing with her are paying off. He says he doesn’t recall ever seeing her bend so nicely as he did on our ride Sunday.

My niece, Addison, started riding in a camp a bit ago. She’s toying with taking some lessons – taking that plunge into the addiction that is horses. So Addison, hear this: Should you choose to ride – you must always have a goal. My big goal is for this trainer to see vast improvement with us each month when he comes for clinics. For us that means focusing on the tasks he’s given us each day this week. Transitions, transitions, transitions, lol. It’s amazing the difference that can be made with the guidance of a trainer. I’m a firm believer that you never stop learning. The best trainers I’ve had over the years stayed educated. They never stopped taking lessons or going to clinics and they have the mentality that there was always someone who knows more. I’m super happy that I have access to this kind of wisdom at this barn. In between clinics, this barn has a really talented instructor I take weekly lessons with. She helps keep us focused and working towards our goal to become a real team together. I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. Did you hear that Addison? You will never know the most. You will likely only know a sliver or maybe large slice of what there is to know about horses. Stay humble, kid.

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Being humble, at this point, manifests in sweaty selfies of me and G. We are ready to admit we have some tuning up to do.

I have crazy dreams that Addison will fall in love with this sport. There is so much to learn and gain from it. Just about every good part of me – every part of myself that I like – is a direct result of so many countless hours at the barn as a kid/teenager. You learn compassion, work ethic, perseverance, and…silence, among other things.  So many mornings with G are just us talking to each other without saying a word – listening to the birds, enjoying the occasional breeze. When you have a personality like mine – your brain always going, going, going – it’s important to have a place like this.

I can remember many moons ago, my mom and I talking about this. She wondered how I could ride in all those shows and let all those people judge me or how I could get on all the challenging horses and not be scared. I remember way back then telling her I was always scared. I hated those spans between classes at big shows, the waiting – wondering if you’d worked hard enough to hold your own. I hated sitting in the North Carolina heat in tall boots and a show jacket. I dreaded watching horses misbehave in the lesson ring with their new riders – I used to run and hide in stalls. My trainers would come looking for me, “I’ve been calling for you. Where have you been?” Oh me? Just mucking stalls.

But the second I got on, it was always the same: just silence. Brain quiet, mouth quiet, body still. It’s like riding just erases everything. You forget you were scared. You ride into the show ring. You get on the horse whose rider has grown scared of it. You quiet down and just listen. You get off however many minutes or hours later and your brain is just wiped clean. It’s like a hard-drive defrag. Nothing is left.

It’s why I can do things as a grown up even if I’m scared. Like practical things: get on an airplane, drive a boat, take risks. This whole thing has taught me, once you get on the horse – what will be, will be. You will either conquer or fail. Conquering is awesome. Failure is okay. You can always get back on the horse. You can always try again.

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Currently, we are conquering G’s mane. I can’t tell if we are losing or it. Mane pulling is a long and tedious process, lol.