Well, Gimpy is…gimpy again. He lost his shady looking left front shoe last week and since every farrier just assumes horse people don’t work full time day jobs, a rant for another day, Dusty ended up pulling his right front for me Saturday. He was doing fine with only one missing front shoe, but immediately became gimpy again with the loss of the other. As of today he is moving normally on soft surfaces and still pretty touchy on harder ones. I’m torn as to what to do about this, but again…another post.
For today, since I find myself out of the saddle yet again with the Big E (new name has been decided too!! I want to roll it around a day or so before it becomes real), I want to focus on a topic that has been running through my head an awful lot since bringing him home: our future and how to not completely screw it up.
My experiences aren’t as vast and wide as a lot of other bloggers. I didn’t grow up in lessons, as a barn rat, or have a training program. I didn’t ride through college or go through the ranks of Pony Club. I was a self taught trail adventurer in my young days turned endurance rider in early adulthood and am now an event hopeful in my middle years. Gem and I came a long, long way from our dirty beginnings together and I am super proud of where we ended up, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t make a metric ton of mistakes along the way. And its those mistakes I wish to not repeat all over again.
Hellomylivia (What I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know) and May As Well Event (I Have Regrets) published posts a while back that stuck with me and now that I a starting a new journey looking through a new set of ears, I’ve been finding myself thinking along those same lines.
Here is my pledge to the Big E:
- I will not let others dictate our path. This is our journey and as such it will look a lot different from everyone else’s and that is okay. We will take our time, move up when we are ready and listen to those I trust while keeping in mind that progress is not linear. In the past I have let bad trainers push us beyond where we were at the moment or conversely let others talk me out of doing things I knew we could do. I’m sure glad I didn’t listen to all those who told me I couldn’t do a 100 mile ride after only doing two 50 mile rides. They were wrong and I knew it in my gut. Each person’s story is different and I plan to live my own.
- I will advocate for you at all times. Why is this so hard to do? Bad farrier care has already wreaked havoc on the start of this relationship. You would think that having them at home would make all this super easy, but it isn’t. I will stick by what is right for you, listen to my gut and make choices that I feel comfortable with regarding basic care, advanced needs and our training. No gong with the flow because that is what others say is right. If it feels wrong, it is wrong.
- I will be consistent with what I am asking of you. The biggest mistake I made with Gem was not being consistent with her. I’d allow her to ignore my requests one day and then expect prompt reactions the next. I’d let her break to canter and go with it on one ride and then insist she remains trotting until I ask the next one. It wasn’t fair to her and it didn’t get us anywhere as a partnership. Things started going better for us when I settled down and became very consistent that when I say halt I mean it. Now. Not in 5 steps. Like raising my kiddo, firm boundaries makes life easier. With Eeyore I have been working very hard at laying down the rules every ride and sticking to them. Hopefully it allows us to move forward in a better place.
- I will leave emotions in the barn. It can be really hard to not let the day build up and effect saddle time. I learned with Gem that if I wasn’t in a good mood I needed to stay far, far away. Eeyore is a lot more forgiving by nature but his stubborn side can get under my skin pretty easily. Losing my temper or getting frustrated never works and I am working very hard at letting things go in the moment.
- I will have fun. No brainer, right? Yet it is so easy to put more importance on riding than it deserves. Let me explain that. I’m not a competitive person. I throw away any ribbons I win. I don’t have a full show season planned out. Heck, I’m still the Queen of the 18″ division. For me riding isn’t about anything but stress relief, exercise, fun and a place for personal growth. It doesn’t matter in my life if I ever jump 3′, learn the passage or move up the levels. When I sit down and take a long hard cold look at horses and my life, at the moment the only way they work is as once piece of the jigsaw that is my life. A tiny piece that fits in among the others but must remain in balance. A moment cut out of my day that isn’t about anyone else: no patient problems to fix, no dinner to be cooking and no kiddo to raise. In that 45 minutes all that exists is my horse and myself. There are times I get bogged down mentally on the fact that I am only doing 18″ fences. That my xc schooling is over logs on the ground. That I still struggle with getting the horse to bend properly. But then I realize that right now none of that matters. Eeyore is my escape and each time I swing my leg over him it needs to be, above all else, fun. And that is all on me. It is on me to shrug off the circle that he counterbends on and fix it and try again. It is on me to laugh off his rooting and boot his lazy butt forward. This doesn’t mean I don’t strive for more, that I don’t hold both of us accountable to perform at our best and grow. It means that I stop being so damn Type A about it all and let go and HAVE SOME FUN even in the bad moments.
- I will allow for variety. Habits are good. They are also boring and can lead to both of us getting sour. It is easy to tack up and work on flat work in the arena at home and it is necessary to build the foundation. It can also feel a lot like I am drilling him as we circle for the thousandth time. I will get out the jumps from time to time. I will get out of the arena all together. I will hit the trail. Variety is the spice of life and all that.
- I will not ask things of you that you can not perform. Fitness will be key with Eeyore. I got away with a lot with Gem based on her natural athleticism, but he won’t be able to come off a month long break and hit the ground running and jumping. In addition to fitness there is also the mental exercise and building on that solid foundation to reach new tasks. I will take it slow, be patient and make sure I set you up for success while letting you find your way.
I know I will make mistakes. I have goals and dreams of where I would like to see us by the end of this year, next spring and onward, but overall I want to plain old fashion do right by him and have fun. I think that if I can stick to my pledge those simple goals can be met.