Tuesday, September 29, 2009

then again, maybe not

Due to the vagaries of the horse business, it looks like I won't be paid to show someone else's horses after all. I won't even not be paid to do it!

And truly, it is just vagaries and it is just business and that is what it is.

And here is what I whisper to myself in the universe: be ready for the more opportunity, the greater opportunity, that this will open the door to.

I did lunge Rolinette today. She's great. The wind has been blowing here like it is March and she wasn't wild about that. I'm supposed to ride her tomorrow and I kinda hope the wind is calm then.

I didn't figure this was worth a whole new post, but KY may still be on. Smaller. Easier. Not driving. I don't know about showing yet. But going, experiencing it, even getting paid some to do it (as well as expenses covered). But my practice of pretty much never counting on anything proves its worth once again.

Also, Rolinette was lunged again. She and I don't know each others signals entirely yet, and she is a bit stiff, but I think a part of this for me is again claiming my comfort in dealing with horses. Part of the tentativeness is, this is not my horse. I'm honored to get to work with her, she's such a queen and I'm sure she'll show me a thing or two that I need to get in touch with in myself!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

the rides that got away

I did not ride Ed or lunge Rolinette today, both of which were on the agenda. Too much rain. I mean, today was rain solid and all day. Today was rain standing in the arena and running into the barn isle and soaking through the rain coat that has lost its coating.

When I got up to go to work this morning, daughter said, “When did you start working on Saturdays?” “I’m not working on Saturdays, just this Saturday and last Saturday, so it seems like I’m working Saturdays but I’m not really.”

There is a lot going on at the barn, as I guess there always is. Comings and goings, doings and beings. For me it is refuge and, hmmm, flight deck? Because I do feel like I get to fly from there.

The big things are: There’s a big show in October in Lexington and I’ll be driving a horse trailer to it, helping with handling and working, and even showing. I wrote about that somewhere, oh yeah, here a few posts ago. So that’s a big thing, to get paid to go and show someone else’s horses. A big big thing.

And I’m getting more and more opportunities to ride. Like Ed. He’s just someone’s horse at the barn but now I can ride him anytime. I might have been able to before if I’d asked but I didn’t of course.

Rolinette, she’s a different thing than that. She’s the now retired Friesan brood mare. She’s Bart’s mother, and Willoe’s (currently pregnant), and Thea’s, and Wynsome’s, and Eclypse’s. I got to ride her once, a lesson on her, and I was going to get to ride her regularly but then she moved to the other farm and stayed there to have the baby. She came back to wean, and needs to get in shape, and I get to do that. Also, the immediate goal is for me to ride her in the little schooling show JE is hosting in November. I’m also hoping to ride Shay in his first show then, if that works out.

I’ll tell you, I felt very honored to be asked to work with Rolinette. She’s Lisa’s horse. That right there says a lot.

Let me tell you about this one other horse at the barn. I don’t expect I’ll ever be asked to ride him. He is, I swear, horse eye candy. He’s the best looking horse you’ve ever seen in your life, and he can move too. He’s a big warmblood and has mostly been used as a hunter. Do you remember in high school how you thought some people were “cute couples”, and how maybe you hoped you and somebody else would be a “cute couple”? Well, when I walk him in and out to his field, that’s what I think. “Cute couple.” He’s so far outa my league.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I rode Bart not long after lunch. He's going to a horse show next weekend and his momma is away for this weekend so keeping him going and nice is important. But not messing him up is important too. So nothin' fancy and nothin' complicated.

He's a nice horse. Maybe not as under himself as one would want. As always, I free walked him several times around the arena. He did not look at the "scary end" at all. Later in the trot his neck would raise a bit but nothing more there. I used a bounce pad under the cantle and I think that helped a bit. I'm not sure if I've got the stirrup length right still. Not too long, not too short. I felt like I was able to sit up nicely but one never knows that really unless one has photos or a witness.

After free walk I brought him together and continued walking, shortening and lengthening and doing some leg yields. At first when I asked him to step up more, he wanted to trot but then he got what I wanted. At the trot my first concern was to have some freedom forward and he did. At the same time, he stayed nicely round except for some lookie at the scary end circle but he would go right back to work. I kept him on various 20M circles for the most part and tried to trot enough to make myself breathe hard. I know this is a sad commentary on my out-of-shape-ness.

Back to free walk then. Then bringing him together and asking for spirals first in walk, then in trot. In trot I'd keep him on the inside circle for a few rounds because those smaller circles really ask him to step under himself, then we'd spiral back out. I had some trouble keeping the rhythm -- he would slow. What he did not do was pop his shoulder which was nice. We did that a couple of times both directions, changing direction by going down the long side then across the diagonal to give him that forward headspace.

At that point my helper showed up to work and I had to stop for a few minutes to let her know what needed doing and to talk with her mom and that was enough to make me forget the rest of what I'd been thinking I'd do next. I'd meant to do stretchy circles and serpentines. What I did instead was a series of transitions, just walk to trot to walk, but focusing on accuracy of placement and quality of transition.

He was actually breathing a little hard when we quit -- probably as much as I was. Boy, is he fun.

Friday, September 18, 2009

smoke from a distant fire

"Make the work easier than the resistance." Kay Meredith

Yes yes yes.

I mean, really, that's just the other side of giving, rewarding, reinforcing, and yet . . .

And yet it is partly about demanding more of yourself, not just your horse.

I've been to the beach, to the outer banks. This is the first part of it for me to write about. On the way home, Cielo and I stopped to see my old teacher Kay Meredith and her apprentice Rebeca Nelles work Ritmik, a Dutch Warmblood mare, and not only work her but do her very first steps of passage and piaffe, as well as introduce ones.

Kay was so incredibly hospitable, talked, taught, shared, showed us around, introduced us to all the horses.

And when we left all I could think was, "How do you get to be Rebecca?" I don't really have ambitions that big . . . and yet I do too. What I mean by that is that I'd love to know how far I can go, to push it a bit, but I acknowledge I'm older, inexperienced, and might have some commitment issues. And that is beside of having no money to do any of it with.

How do I get that job? And how do I ride under instruction no less than once a week? And how and how and how?

I don't know how. But I would not have thought there was any way I could get to the beach either. I would not have thought I would find the job I have, the boss I have, the opportunities I do have.

I will tell you, I lovelovelove Kay's hardassness. I mean, she was generous with the praise but there were no excuses for the work either. I often have no patience with people who I don't think are hard enough on themselves, who do not demand much of themselves. At the same time, I am not a perfectionist and do not admire it. Maybe that is even part of what I like about riding . . . that there is always room for improvement, to push a bit more (even when pushing means being absolutely still).

The ambition is for Ritmik to be doing the small CDI tour in 2010. They have a gelding they hope to do the big CDI tour with. If I had an ambition, I would say it would be to ride at fourth level in ten years. And I would like my business to be the horses.

And isn't Kay beautiful! She looked and moved like a dancer! Years and years ago I saw a woman at a horse show. Her back was to me and she had a long iron-grey braid down her back and a strong body and practical clothes and boots and I thought, I want to be like that -- thinking of it as when I grew older. Now I see Kay. Yes, I want to be like that.

rant: We need real images of real women, strong, not airbrushed, not costumed and painted, real women to really be instead of images of pretense to pretend to be. Costumes are what you wear when you lack character. Just sayin'.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Natasha is Cielo's daughter's horse -- an older Arab type mare. So put older and Arab and mare together and what do you get? Seriously, she's a very nice little horse -- moves very nicely, obviously loves her girl, is obviously loved back.

Cielo and daughter had just "kidnapped" me and taken me to their house where they promptly changed into riding gear and we headed out to the barn. I could not, at that moment, find my camera because Cielo had hidden that in her bedroom. I waited and watched and enjoyed the ambiance while daughter then mother rode, wondering if I'd get to catch a little ride or not, wondering if I'd broach the subject or not. Her daughter knows nothing about me and it is her horse, but Cielo did ask her daughter if I could ride and while I didn't actually *hear* her daughter answer, I did mount up. I think daughter was asking mother if it would really be all right for me to ride.

I didn't do much because I could sense daughter's nervousness. I walked and tried to get her to give me her head. She was simply having none of that, and I didn't want to sit there and absolutely insist (remembering when I rode Star and asked him to give me his head and you know, eventually he did) because I'm asking at that point for something that this horse is not asked for, etc. etc.

So then I asked for a trot. Like I said, she moves really nicely. She doesn't, however, bend at all. And she's not too responsive to leg pressure either. Ask her to bend to the inside and she steers in that direction, period. Ok. So we just happily trotted a couple of times in each direction around the arena and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Friday, September 4, 2009

trail ride -- Shay

It was two blessed hours in the saddle. Me and LoriBeth and Pogo and Shay. She’s got this nice Crosby that I ride him in. Everyone seems so cautious -- “would you feel more secure in a western saddle?” and “would you rather ride in the tom thumb than the egg butt?” Gawd, give him to me bareback in a halter! Ok, maybe that’s too extreme, but seriously.

Seriously I don’t think I could ever teach a kid to ride, or even an adult rank green beginner. My advice has always been, get a horse (pony) that’s broke and probably old and get on it and ride, preferably bareback. When you can stay on without hitting his back or banging his mouth, come back for lessons. No wonder no one pays me for this stuff! But you’ll never figure out how to stay on if sometimes you don’t. You can’t learn to dance by mincing carefully down the hallway. As my daughter said after we’d jumped off the canopy of the steamboat, “I had that moment of insanity and just jumped!” Yes. That. Except never stupidly. Never with your eyes closed or without your helmet on. People get all tied up on one or the other and it isn’t one or the other . . . it is all.

So anyway, we only walked because Shay has no shoes. But he seemed fine honestly. We had one good shy, with both horses -- I think it was a bird in a bush right beside the trail. It was a good hard shy on Shay’s part to where I really expected him to take off but to his eternal credit, he did not move another muscle.

The temperature was perfect, the weather beautiful, we had the trail nearly to ourselves, the lake was glass smooth and reflected perfectly the mountains and sky, the company was marvelous. It is so nice when people will ask you to go riding and then bring you a horse to ride too!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

on the question of dedication

When I asked you how you went from someone who was an adult before the first time he’d ever ridden a horse to a USDF bronze medalist and sought after clinician, you said (not without some modesty), “Well, I brought something to it to begin with, some talent.” Yeah, I get that. You can teach people to be relatively safe on a horse but you cannot teach them that feel, to know what to do from their gut, to notice the unnoticeable minutia that gives the horseman the idea of what to do next. Then you said, “And it requires some dedication,” and you told a story about how you worked ten hour days then drove 3 hours one way to ride for an hour and talk for two then drive back and work again, doing that twice a week, in the winter.

And that story, it made me cry. I can’t do that. More, I don’t want to do that. I must needs have something left for my family, something of me left for them. All for one; one for all. I cannot short my family. I understand dedication, and I appreciate dedication, and I feel like I am dedicated and willing to make sacrifices (and I know my family is behind me) but there is a limit there and in the end, family comes before even horses.

And frankly it becomes difficult to get any riding in at all when there are 18 stalls to clean on top of the other regular work of keeping the barn running. It is great for the barn, good for job security, sucky for getting a ride in. That’s what happened to me Sunday and Monday and Wednesday.

So, that’s where I am, trying to figure out how to work it all out. I don’t believe much in “balance”. I do believe that there comes a point where it (everything) becomes possible, or there’s another option that hasn’t developed itself, or something. Just keeping the eyes open to see it and the mind open to recognize it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

second chances

I’m not much of a “second chance” sort of girl. I don’t think that you “get over” stuff, or “put something behind you and get on with your life”, or get forgiven -- not of something really serious without real changes in behavior proven over time anyway. I find it easiest to talk about in gardening metaphors . . . if you were told not to water the potatoes and you did anyway and they rotted, that’s what you get, rotted potatoes (not forgiveness); but if you plant a crop sequentially every two weeks then you provide yourself the best chance of having a good abundant crop continuously and if one or more of those planting fails, so what (no forgiveness needed).

So maybe what I’ve done is planted seeds sequentially but when it appears unbidden in my mind it is, “this is my second chance”. I never ever thought I’d have a second chance. I thought I’d blown my chance and that was that. I got a lot out of it -- I got to think about who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live and do that (and find out what the limits of that were). My life was certainly far from over, but I didn’t “put it behind me”, that’s for sure. I was too determined not to repeat the mistakes. In spite of all that determination, I certainly can see the character flaws that led to those mistakes, still. And there was always the thing that was missing.

And then there was the day I saw the ad for this job. And since then the struggles to not want more. Not so much a struggle really, but still something missing, something that I have no words for. And then more opportunities, more possibilities. And when it appears unbidden in my mind, it is as “this is my second chance.” And usually along with that thought come tears. I am so sad I needed a second chance: I am so glad to have one. Both.

I did not believe it was within the field of infinite possibilities, isn’t that funny!? I guess I had knocked it out so long ago. . . . But there is also the law of detachment from specific results -- allowing for the universe to know better than you know.

I am driving horses to a big freaking show, I am showing, and I am getting paid to do it. Yes. I am open to all the second chances in the world of horses.