Monday, February 17, 2014


So, sometimes when I tell my mom that I have a lesson or am going to a lesson, she'll reply, "I thought you knew how to ride?" And then like the good girl I am, I try to explain why I still take lessons to a non-horsey, non-competitive person. {{{Hmmm, maybe I should just call my trainer a coach... 'cause she understands anything and everything about football.}}}
OHEC XC course buried in 2' of snow

Yesterday's jumping lesson was a good one.  One of the barn kids set up the course for us which, with one minor adjustment, was wholeheartedly approved by the Eventing Trainer and was greeted with angst from this rider.  She included the dreaded green roll top. 

Now, our jumping is getting better and better with bigger jumps and more complex courses.  It has not included any Sugar/Suzanne scary stuff.   And this 13 year old dragged out and dusted off the one scary element left after the snowbirds left for Aiken.

OHEC XC course early fall
I looked Eventing Trainer in the eye and said, "Let's get the green roll top over with!"  She did not coddle me.  She did not reflect on last week's issues and fall at the dark green oxer!  She responded, matter-of-factly, "I think that's a good plan!" 

And, we jumped it!  First like a gazelle trapped by hunters lunging over a 6' fence and then, soon, like a jumping horse.  I heard myself say, at the end of the lesson, "maybe we should bring out hay bales next week".  {{{Who am I?}}}

Spring... soon!
It takes something special to be a good instructor.  {{{Not the "special" kind of special.}}}  The job is not easy...  You deal with weather all the time and sometimes in the extremes.  Your days can be long and your students (particularly adults) are not always fully present.  The gifted ones can push an edge without crushing a spirit.  Challenge without being intimidating... 

I've been very lucky finding my current trainers.  They are honest, hard working and very special (in that good kind of way).  I'm coming out of a 2.5 year struggle and neither gave up on me.  {{{OK, maybe Sugar and I as a pair, which is understandable.}}}

So, let the lessons come and I'll keep explaining why I keep taking them...  And, I will have a smile inside and out 'cause it is getting better and I'm having fun again!

Sunday, February 9, 2014


A sunny,cold day riding
in powdery foot deep
 snow is pretty fabulous!
Trailering Sugar is stressful and trailering to a jumping lesson at another barn adds a new level of stress.  Seems that despite my efforts at taking it easy and going slow with the returning confidence, I still up the ante.  It was 10 degrees and I began to think that this was the stupidest idea I've ever had (and I have had many).

We were alone getting ready for our jumping lesson and my anxiety was climbing when a woman strolled in with a big smile on her face.  "Hi, I'm Grateful Rider, GR for short!  Are you riding with me?  Oh great and she's a pinto!  This is going to be so much fun this morning!"

GR is a working mother with two young children with just enough time to lease a horse for a couple of rides a week.  And today, despite all the weekend obligations of a mother with active children, she managed to schedule a jumping lesson with the guest trainer (mine) who was also the woman that taught her to ride as a young teen.

Joy begets more joy!
As we horse girls do, we chatted about our rides and expectations for the lesson.  She mentioned to me that she hadn't jumped in a long time... wasn't sure what to expect...  knew he was a good boy... and was a little nervous to ride with Eventing Trainer.   And, as you might guess I told her that I was getting back... feeling better about my jumping...  was anxious... and looking forward to lessoning there...

 And we jumped!  Eventing Trainer put together a fantastic gymnastic (bounce, bounce, one stride/oxer, one stride, bounce bounce), with an outside line (four forward, five easy strides) and another angled vertical on the other side. 

Her horse was an easy going, hunterly fellow with an occasional spook.  Their energy was magnificent... happy, forward and peaceful.  I was so excited to ride and said how much I loved being in the same arena with them.

Curiosity and exploration replaces anxiety and dread

GR, as if sitting in the lotus position on top of a mountain overlooking a lush valley, replied, "This is a gift for me... every second I'm in the saddle I just thank god that I have the opportunity to ride.  And to be able to ride this horse, in a lesson with Eventing Trainer is the biggest gift at all.  I try not to make mistakes and I want to do well, yet I always remember that every stride, every jump and every moment is to be cherished."

Hmmmmm....  Hmmmmm...  and, then I thought, "EXACTLY!"

I woke up this morning with a smile on my face and that same energy in my heart...  We're jumping Beginner Novice/Novice jumps, the technical aspects of the lessons are getting more complicated and when things aren't perfect, I move on! 

Thank you GR 'cause gratitude really does rock!!!!

Sunday, February 2, 2014


A Wise Woman once asked me if I knew what the worst word in the English Dictionary was?  I blushed and tentatively started, "Not the ___".  She stopped me with a look, "No, not that word and yes, that one is pretty bad, it just isn't the worse.  The worst word in the English Dictionary is the word, BUT." 

Now, she wasn't not talking about an ample bottom or anything in relation to the nasty end of a cigarette.  She was clearly talking about a simple word that can stop a sentence dead in it's tracks and then burst forward changing what was into something very different.

Consider conversations you've had or overheard:
  • You're doing a great job {{here it comes}}}, but ___________________!
  • I like what you did on that project, but ___________________!
  • I want to move back up to Novice, but _____________________!
That one word, "but" has the ability to change everything that proceeded it.  Think about all those times you've used that word and if you can't remember any then listen for it... see how it's used and when.

I'm at a yoga meditation retreat a Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health this weekend. The workshops seem to be designed specifically for me.  And like the horse crazy girl I am, all the lessons seem to point towards my riding, eventing and, yes...  work. 

I heard myself say, "the possibilities are boundless as long as I believe it to be true and act accordingly, {{{and, here it comes}}} but ______________! 

You see?  That little word broke the heart of all those possibilities.  It encourages one to list the reasons why it won't happen.  And then all reasons hold more power, more energy than the hope that came before that tiny word, "but".

A girls gotta eliminate the "buts" and replace  with a connector, the word "and".  And brings it together, solidifies the wish and makes it happen.  See for yourself:

The possibilities are boundless as long as I believe it to be true, act accordingly and, _______________!

I can feel the ending...  make it happen!   I wanna move up to Novice and, I'll make it happen!   2014 is gonna be a good year, indeed!