Winning

As a kid, I was competitive. I envisioned myself cruising the victory gallop, huge ribbon on my horse’s bridle and stupid smile planted on my face. Competitive may actually be the wrong word, I didn’t feel combative about my desire to win. I wanted nice things and someone to agree that I could indeed ride decently (which, my trainer was not always vocal about, as trainers are this way).

Because of this desire for blue satin, I would grow overwhelmed by the idea of showing. The mornings of horse shows destroyed my health, physical and mental. Consistently concerned with perfection and the possibility of something going wrong, I spent the hours leading up to my classes in agony.

Then I turned 18.

Once I started paying for these things myself, there was a lot less guilt and pressure to “have fun at all costs”. Since I approach each show now as sunk costs, it’s easier for me to be open to gasp – not taking home blue ribbons, or any ribbons at all.

I don’t need the victory gallop, I am cool with demonstration of growth, the days with the barn family, and the time with the horses.

So these days, when I do win big, it’s almost strange. It rustles up this old-time feeling I thought I had set aside in the attic of my mind. It’s difficult to name, but the feeling feels like a spotlight is fixed on your stomach, and the rest of the day is spent giggling and smiling.

I have to sometimes remind myself, it’s all one person’s opinion, one stranger’s opinion. But when this stranger does look at a class and says, yup, she’s the best from not knowing the history of your riding or horses, that’s a special moment.

IMG_20190609_172110
This is his “game face”

A Bad Fall

Not my own, luckily, but I did witness a bad fall this weekend that resulted in a Mother’s Day trip to the Emergency Room.

No one is irreparably harmed. And truly an odd day to be in the Emergency Room, not a lot of accidents happen on this holiday I suspect (unlike Thankgiving Day, when we have deep-frying explosions to contend with).

Falls are unavoidable in this sport. I’ve had my fair share, and I immediately jump up (bad, bad, bad) convinced that the quicker I can get back on and “prove” my toughness, the better off I will be.

This was a false lesson taught to me in the days before extensive research on concussions. And to an extent, we baby children these days on the rigors of horsebacking (locking stirrups away for an entire month seems archaic) but I firmly believe our appreciation for medical consequences is not one of these misguided moments.

We owe it to our brains to be careful, “reputation” and “toughness” be damned. We owe it to our future selves. Reading about continued trauma to the head is enough to make me a lifetime activist.

Thankfully, our rider was wearing a helmet, because she did fall hard.

It’s unfathomable to me that people choose not to wear one, especially when jumping. I will write of another time when I rode western and it was far less common, and I still look back and cringe to days when I justified the choice as it being “impossible to fall off in a western saddle”. Because you are “so secure”. Uh, okay, but how about a horse falling on you?

It was an unacceptable decision.

Even when your horse is behaving admirably, you are 3-5 feet off the ground, and you  travel with momentum that has the potential to stop suddenly.

If you are worried about helmet hair, get a gym membership to shower near the barn. If you are worried about feeling a breeze, get a vented helmet. If you are worried about how it looks, trust me, you look much wiser with one on.

I did not intend for this to be a rant about helmet-wearing, but we all ought to be smart when a completely innocuous lesson can turn into a trip to the ER. Respect yourself, and your thoughts, feelings, and well-being!

Connecting Body to Head

Riding can be such a thinking sport. Constantly, we mull over our weaknesses and how to address them. We reflect on the challenges our horse is facing and dream up exercises, tack, and strategies to reach the next step in our journey. Meditating on this sport can become all-consuming.

I spend car rides to and from the barn picking apart rides, noting where and why I need an adjustment here and a tweak there. All my directives aim toward supporting the horse I ride that day.

Then I will test out ideas, come to this blog, and write about it. I will also read the blogs of others to devour other ideas from the talented equestrian blogosphere. Throw in a smattering of COTH threads, and my head is rolling.

We are all thinking about our riding. Plotting, planning, and theorizing.

Continue reading “Connecting Body to Head”

Recipe for Progress

Leaping off my discussion of the trajectory of progress, I sped into a world of thinking, how do we achieve progress? Moreover, what can we, as riders, do to ensure we are moving in a direction that we like?

When I visualize the rider I want to be, how ever many years away it may be, what can I do to be that rider? It requires a foundation, a plan. Or in cooking terms – ingredients and a recipe to complete.

Without further ado, my recipe for progress.

WEB-1-Kent-Farrington-Creedance-HOC_7936
Finished Product. Just kidding. Credits to Mollie Bailey Photos and Chronicle of the Horse.

Continue reading “Recipe for Progress”

What’s in a name?

I’ve always laughed about how appropriately (or inappropriately) a name can describe a horse.

To name a few (famous and not famous) options….

Butterfly Flip

BF
Joris de Brabadner

Appropriateness (out of 10): 8

I mean, this mare had such grace and effortless float to her. Butterfly flip sounds like an ice skating maneuver.

Chill R Z

Tumblr Source

Appropriateness (out of 10): 2

Talented, agile as all heck. Chill, this horse was not.

Catch Me

CM
Sigh…

Appropriateness (out of 10): 7

Yeah, I’d need someone to catch me too if I rode a hunter that jumped like this!

Small Affair

SA
Image Sauce

Appropriateness (out of 10): 3

If you count multiple National championships and that style “small”…

Ligist

6-Reed-Kessler-Ligist-D33_9484
MacMillan Photography

Appropriateness (out of 10): 3

Ligist is German for “hooligan”. I don’t know about you, but when I am called a hooligan, I do not have that level of care toward my job.

This is my level of hooligan.

Tango

Screenshot_2018-03-03-11-04-08
Mare can dance…

Appropriateness (out of 10): 10

Beautiful mover, emblematic of partnership…. I buy in. I am also calling my own bias.

 

Any notable names from your own lives? Either because they are super appropriate (or not)?