Happiness & Horsemanship
We are the lucky ones that on this challenging journey of life, horsemanship & self development we learn you can’t see the sunrise without the darkness of the night and the red morning sky paints promises of a beautiful tomorrow. You can’t reach a mountain of greatness while safely crossing a plateau. You will climb the ridges and fall into the valleys only to rise again.
The Wisconsin Futurity horse show rolled around a week or two ago and brought us our first taste of true blue Wisconsin autumn weather. The cool to warm fall sunny days were flanked with chilly and brisk evenings. As per usual I was under staffed & making miracles happen on a skeleton & partially volunteer crew. I had 7 or 8 horses in tow, plus two small children & one out of control boxer/farm dog.
I sold my daughter’s horse today. I went in the barn and did all the things you do when you sell a horse. It seemed almost ceremonious as I gave her one last haircut to be sure she would leave the farm looking in top order. I took off her sheet that was embroidered with her name and adorned in our stable colors. I put a miscellaneous sheet on her to send her off with. This was certainly not the first time I sold a special horse but I had never felt so peculiar about removing my stable colors from a horses back.
I, as everyone, have faced the uncertainty of this time. I have faced the sudden loss of income. I have faced the government’s inability to deliver assistance and fulfill promises in real time. I have faced my own negativity and the negativity of my loved ones. I have faced my demons. Then, I faced the strength of my piers. I faced the influence and power that my industry has while we are all standing on the same sinking ship. I have watched us all start to row together headed towards the shore. I have faced the degree of intensity that my fellow horse trainers have in the belief that everything is going to be okay. I have watched the capacity of my industry to withstand this storm.
Nobody ever said it’d be easy girl,
Nope, nobody ever did.
Nobody ever told you about the pain and the struggle,
Nope, nobody ever did.
You have to carry yourself with calm and confidence all the time when in the saddle. If the horse gets you so riled that your anger starts to be a problem the situation will only snowball from there. The horse needs encouragement not unfair and over the top rage. The horse can’t fathom unnecessary roughness no more than a child can. The anger only breaks the horses trust and confidence in their rider and makes them act out even worse. In this particular situation what the horse needed was the rider to calm her emotions and focus on her body control. The rider needed to get her seat bones connected with her saddle so she could drive the horse forward with her leg.
As equestrians we run across all kinds of different anxiety eliciting situations. Some of these are irrational fears, where some are very real. Some riders fear the show ring, others fear a particular horse, others yet fear a certain gait, such as a canter. Riders who are inherently brave tend to excel and reach greatness more quickly than the timid anxiety ridden equestrians. People tend to perceive brave riders as fearless. In reality their bravery has nothing to do with the lack of fear. Bravery comes from the acceptance of fear. Bravery is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.
Grit; an intangible and arguably immeasurable quality necessary for achieving goals in many areas of life. Grit is what gives people the ability to pull themselves up out of the most depressing and desperate situations in life. There are people all over the world who are on the brink of disaster and manage to continue forward. They give themselves the ability to rise up like a phoenix, proceeding to crush the worlds expectations of them. These types of people are full of this invisible attribute; Grit.
Surrender doesn’t mean stop moving forward. Surrender means throwing away anxiety and worry, working towards your own goals with clarity. It means having faith in yourself, your trainer, your horse and your team. Having the faith that regardless of what lies ahead, your struggles will lead to your ultimate growth. It means surrendering to the fact that maybe your horse won’t bring you show ring accolades, but that it has made you one heck of a rider. It means having the faith that the powers that be, know your goals and someday the right horse, trainer or opportunity will present itself to you. It will present itself, as long as you keep going.
Once upon a time, if you are a rider, you may not have believed you could rise and fall, posting to the motion of a trotting horse. You were however instructed on what to do, or observed how others do it. You were most importantly, grateful for the opportunity to try. Perhaps, if you were lucky, you were grateful for a good teacher and a safe horse with whom you put much faith in. You fumbled and bounced and slowly found your rhythm. Your faith in yourself, your horse and your teacher thus improved and hopefully so did your gratitude.
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