Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pieces of a peculiar puzzle

I had a lot of thoughts today while trail riding at Henry Cowell (also finally found a loop that doesn't feel like my poor horses are going to DIEEEEE) and so I'm going to process them here.

1. I had a riding lesson with a really BigNameTrainer out here a few weeks ago. It was awesome in many ways: she was complimentary of my riding, Kat behaved incredibly, and she helped shape the ride into one of the best rides I've ever had on Kat. It also broke my heart: she says Kat will never be a 2nd level horse, that I'm a little bit wasting my time as a professional with a horse like this, and that I'm sloppy in my training.
  • I think most horses are capable of at least third level, given enough time and training
  • "as a professional?"
  • As for sloppy in my training, great! Show me how to improve.
So I ruminated on this lesson for a while. My rides with Kat felt blasé, even while E was able to produce some truly brilliant work with her.

2. I showed a friend's horse this weekend, and it was awesome.

Riding at a level above my various horses' capability (at the moment!) for two days was really focusing for me. This road of elementary training wanders, has several steps forward and back, and is ultimately different for every horse. In the same breath, remembering that there is a next level, and a next level, and a next level of performance is important for actually getting down that road.

3. Cappuccino has been going very well, w/t/c. Yesterday, however, she forgot what the aids for trot meant, and rather than staying patient I got a little frustrated and got after her for not moving forward immediately when I asked. It was the first time I've ever gotten after her while under saddle, and she spooked and bucked me off. I was completely fine, but still found myself a few hours later ruminating about backing out of the competition.

4. Fynn's owner re-listed him for sale and hasn't been replying to my texts... so I'm assuming I will be unable to purchase him. For a moment, I feel like railing on about how terrible people are.

5. I'm going through a certain amount of personal-life upheaval. I think it's sort of important background for all of this. 

With all these pieces, what do we see? A turbulent mind and a lot of questions. For a few days, I considered asking JM to help me sell Kat so I could buy something 'worth my time' but every time I focused on that thought I wanted to start crying.

And then today while marching along the trails and babbling to Kat (who was trying to spook at a log on the ground) about what a brave girl she is, something clicked.

I like horses.

I like going into the ring and trying my best, even if it's not to win.

I like Kat.

I feel vulnerable sometimes in the ring, ESPECIALLY on horses I've put most of the training on, but mostly because I'm afraid people will think that due to -insert equine issue of the day- I'm a bad person. There are intermediate steps there but it kinda all piles back to a self-worth thing that's an ongoing issue for me.

It's important to me to have a horse I find funny, that I'm excited to work with, and that I can learn from. Kat is absolutely that horse - at the end of the trail ride we cantered along an easy stretch for about half a mile and the cadence of her underneath me and feeling her breathing and knowing how much she had to trust me to stay that balanced and not in self-preservation-mode... I love Kat. Who cares if it takes us ten years to crest 2nd level (not that I think it's that bad..)

I think feeling bad about owning and training a horse that I adore even if she is a sh** sometimes is a waste of time. And somehow, the past two weeks I haven't seen that.

This is riding: setting goals, overcoming set-backs, embracing humility, exploring our demons, developing focus, and working really hard.


  1. Ugh that sucks, and now I'm wondering who that trainer is since I've ridden with a lot of the BNTs in the area!!

    I mean, what some people consider making it to second level is different than others. Is the goal to win at championships? Or is the goal to grab a couple scores for your bronze? Or is the goal simply to train a horse to do the second level movements and maybe get through a test at a schooling show for fun? Different horses are required for each and I think some trainers lose track of that when a horse would take a while or needs a lot of work.

    A horse that is capable of winning at championships is a totally different horse than a horse who is simply going to be a fun horse to train to second level. I firmly believe most horses can make it to third and not that I've seen Kat in person, but from the videos I think she's a nice little horse, what were the reasons why there was such a hard stop on her training?

    So weird. But it's good to have a nice relaxing trail ride and really dig down into why we do this :) even as a professional... it's supposed to be fun!

  2. ugh i can totally understand the turbulence... having a BNT say that about your horse can be super unsettling (it also doesn't really sound very correct, either...) but i'm glad you had some moments of clarity out on the trail. Kat seems like a pretty awesome horse and you really like her. that should be enough, right?

  3. Just because your a professional does not mean that all your horses need to win the Olympics. Some horses are just for the passion of it all- and I think that's an important part of what we do.