What. A. Year.
2019 can best be summed up as a year of transformation for me. I am not the same person now as I was to start the year and while I still have a ways to go to be the person/rider I want to be, I’m a heck of a lot closer than I was and I am really proud of that fact.
I started 2019 questioning pretty much everything with horses. Did I make the right choice in Eeyore? Should I keep him? Is eventing even the right discipline for me? Am I a good enough rider to do this? Am I brave enough?
By the time the spring rolled around I knew I needed some outside help and began looking for a trainer that I felt comfortable with and would work with me and my hectic schedule. It took a few misses and until the end of May before I found Trainer AB and my whole world changed.
I first rode with her on May 31, 2019 and from the very first minutes of that ride I knew everything was going to be alright. Hard and scary at times, but alright.
Trainer AB has completely transformed me as a rider in ways that I have a hard time explaining. Sure my posture is better. Sure my timing of the aides is faster. Sure I don’t lock my elbows as much. But those aren’t the important ways that she has changed me.
At the beginning of 2019 I was a reactive rider both physically and emotionally. I was scared and being scared makes you a bad rider no matter how tall you sit up and how loose your elbows are. Ground poles created anxiety and anything raised over 6″ off the ground threw me into cardiac arrest. I lacked the tools I needed to deal with his exuberance of energy at the beginning of the ride and then lacked the tools I needed to deal with his insistence that he was dying near the end of the ride. And because I was fearful, I’d overreact and end up punishing him unduly or let him get away with things in fear of picking a fight and it escalating.
Now I’m no longer afraid. I’m no longer afraid to insist that he does what I ask. I’m no longer afraid to put my leg on and grab mane. I’m no longer afraid to push my own limits. Sure, I’m still a wimp. I don’t like big fences and 2’3″ is giving me heart palpitations sitting here thinking about. But being a wimp and being afraid are two different things and my definition of being a wimp is changing. Where I once felt that 12″ was too high, I now have my heart set on getting around a 2’3″ course without looking like a complete failure. And I will own a starter xc course this spring.
I have a lot to work on still. I need to sit up and stop curling into a fetal position. I need to grab more mane and stay out of his way over the bigger fences. I need to figure out how to get him out of my hands but still in the bridle. I need to work on our bend forever. There is so much to learn. I’m finally in a place where I can learn those things and I have a great team of support behind me to get there.
I’m really excited about 2020. I have a trainer I adore, a horse that I love to work with, a supportive family and a big, big dream to conquer the starter division at a schooling HT before the summer lull hits. There is a lot of work to do before then and for the first time in a long time, I feel ready to tackle it all.
One of the biggest lessons I learned this year is that while you can technically do eventing alone, it is a whole heck of lot easier and more fun to do it with a “tribe” (I still hate that word) at your back. No way would I have done either of the HTs this year without the support system around me. Sure we failed at the second one, but even failure is easier to swallow when your Trainer texts you with a plan of action and reassurance that it was only a bump in the road.
Trainer AB has spun my world on its head and I am loving it. Here’s to more personal growth in 2020!