In the past 48 hours, I have ridden a total of 9 different horses. 4 of those horses I have ridden twice in that time period. And EVERY.SINGLE.RIDE has been amazing. Now how on Earth can that be? I've found the past two times C has been away and I've tried to ride his horses on my own, I've found nothing but frustration with my inability and lack of knowledge and have ended up either fighting with the horse or just giving up and feeling like crap for the rest of the day. So why is this time so incredibly different?
Could my riding REALLY be that MENTAL?
I took a trip to my old home, Louisville, KY, last weekend and spent a good deal of time soul-searching, as well as lots of time just observing some of my dear friends with their much loved horses. And something struck me then, that all the little quirks and goofy things and even the naughty things my barnful of horses at home do are the reasons I love them so much. And that these animals, above all else, were given to us to love and have fun with. For whatever reason, that observation/thinking changed my whole mindset. This job is a privilege beyond anything I could have ever hoped for. I've always loved my job but now I'm in an even higher level of appreciation and enjoyment. For the past few days, riding has put the biggest smile on my face. I've been able to be PATIENT, kind, and get good moments out of each horse I've ridden. No, my position has not been perfect, there have been plenty of mistakes made, and I have no doubt my sister (who is an amazing rider) could ride them all infinitely better than me. But I have done my best, I've ridden through any issues with a positive mindset, and each horse has finished up their work calm, happy, and relaxed. This, to me, is the most important thing.
My goals have changed a bit. Yes, I still want to event Pop at Training level this spring. But on top of that, I have a goal (that will perhaps be a permanent goal) to approach each ride with a positive, patient mindset and ride each and every horse I swing a leg over with tact and respect. And with confidence. Even when some of our greenbeans are being spooky or acting out, I want to remain calm and give them a chance to redeem themselves. I was riding a horse I'd never been on before yesterday, who seemed quite "up" and nervous. He spun violently at a flapping tarp and I lost my balance and my stirrup, and was pretty much convinced we should just turn around and go home. But I fought that feeling, shoved my heels down, gave him a pat and put my leg on. Lo and behold, he didn't act out (as he might have if I had punished him) but walked (albeit, briskly) right past Mr. Tarp and let out a huge breath afterwards as if to say "Thanks, stranger, for telling me it was okay."
I am well aware that not all rides make you want to post singsongy statuses on Facebook. But, I think with this attitude and just appreciation for having the opportunity to ride these amazing animals, each ride will be a positive one. Whether just managing to walk calmly past a downed standard in the ring or performing perfect flying changes, I vow to dismount and pat my horse for doing his/her best on that given day, and then feel joy in my heart just for being blessed enough to have been a small part of it.
:) Thanks for reading!