Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Horses-Patience-Desperation-Frustration - Exilhiration

We must ask ourselves why we want to ride so much?Why do we do this?Why do we kill ourselves to add all the hardwork and dramas of horses to our already jammed packed dramatic lives?

Horses are a terminal desease.If you have them in your blood you are doomed. Period.Even when you are lying in a hospital bed,broken and hysterical, all one thinks about is getting back out there and doing it again.

Last weekend I had a grand time with everything falling magically into place.Things have gone well for team Paradise over the past two years. I am the first one to tell you that I have had more down years than up and that I am extremely grateful and appreciative of the good times.

I am an eventing senior now and love it today as much as I have ever loved it. Riding a straight line with a soft hand is my goal .Communicating with the horses is my passion.It does not always work and I have had my fair share of miscommunications,arguments and problems.

Last weekend I saw some of my really good friends have issues with their horses.Everyone puts time ,effort and tons of money into preparing for an event.When things go wrong,it can be emotionally devastating.My heart went out to these people and my words were not enough to console them.

Anything can happen at an event (or anywhere).Tack breaks,Horses break,rails come down,dressage tests are forgotten,we fall off or miss a fence,a shoe comes off and the horse goes immediately lame when he was sound five minutes beforehand.I've seen world championship level riders get kicked in the warm up and have to withdraw.One point can make or break you in terms of a qualifying score and cost you HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of dollars.And you can get lost on cross country or never even make it out of the start box or even in the start box!Half the battle is getting over the first fence and that can only happen if you can control your nerves enough to even drive to the event in the first place that morning!

Why do we do it?Why do we take ALL THOSE EXPENSIVE LESSONS?Why the torture?For me it is just because I love it.I have wanted to give up many many times.I sadly must admit it was not until I retired my horse of a lifetime Riverdance that I have learned to ride him.I took Riverdance from a certified runaway to four star level and never owned the ride.I have brought 10 horses up to advanced from the start.I have never won a really big event.But,I got to play. I was so fortunate to be able to get there.I have been last in dressage more than most.But I have also buzzed around a lot of courses in a lot of countries and wouldn't trade it for the world.

It takes years and years and years. It takes many many horses. One has to learn the rules the hard way.One has to claw their way up the ladder.Forgotten dressage tests,wrong leads,tension,breaks in the extensions,seventeen flying changes down the centerline,wheeling in the halt.You name it I have done it.

Falling off in cross country two fences from home,a million times and only when I was seriously in the money.Run outs,refusals,my recent set of fractures at a schooling corner that kept me out of the saddle for the spring season.Ghosts,night terrors,fear. The what ifs.He did this last time.I haven't schooled that before......I am not ready.It is a crazy game.

You can train all you want to.You can have the most experienced horse in the world,the best teachers,and the most money.But when you enter that ring,or cross the starting timers,you have to be ready for anything.No one knows what will happen and ANYTHING Can happen out there.

This is why we do it all. Because of the shear challenge.Can we do it?If it goes wrong,the answer is dust yourself off and get back out there.Remember how lucky we are to be able to at least try.Take care of yourself and your horses.Regroup if it goes a muck and it will go a muck more than not.But it will get better if you keep going.It may not be easy or pretty.You may not hear things that are "nice"from your coach.

If you ask someone for help,hopefully they are going to be honest enough to be straight forward and direct. This needs to be fixed now!You may not like what you hear. You have the option to process.Try not to personalize mechanical directives.This is an entirely different blog subject.....

So,some people come out of events,shows,hunts on the moon and others come out on the floor. Some leave smiling and some crying.Thats the draw. Thats the challenge.

As the Eventing season starts to wind down a bit till Christmas we all need to reflect. Always think of the good things first and foremost . Next to your list for Santa,make a list of the things you need to practice to improve your confidence and your preformances.Talk to your horses and ask them what they want for Christmas.What they want is very important too.

We have to earn the good rides. WE have to earn clear rounds and good dressage tests.I know I am going to keep on trying.Hope you all will too!

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