Sunday, February 2, 2020


There is a story about Buddha fighting the Demon God, Mara, on the eve of his enlightenment.  Instead of denying his existence or driving him away, Buddha calmly acknowledged that the demon was there, "I see you, Mara".  He invited Mara in for tea and served him like king.  Mara drank the tea and then left, bored with Buddha’s response.

Well, I think we all know that I am not Buddha, that I am not on the eve of my own enlightenment and, calmly is not always the way I greet my demons.  And often, when confronted with my demons, I don't have the self awareness to invite them in for a cup of tea.  And if I am really honest, my demons sweep in like over-caffeinated Dementors out on the town looking for some rip roaring fun.

Today I jumped my Lil Redheaded Girl.  I've been eyeing a jump set up for a lesson earlier in the week.  Every day, I'd look at it and say, "I can do that!"  And another day would pass, "Shanti is a bit too excited, I'll jump it tomorrow."  Tomorrow came and I thought, "Well I have a lesson in the morning, I'll jump it then.  I know I can do it... tomorrow."

Its been weirdly bi-polar.  I know I can do it.  I watched so many old videos of Sugar and I doing it.  And when I talk about Shanti being wild, her worst  is really just a level 3 on the Sugar 10 point scale of exuberance.  And you know what?  I competed Sugar often at a Sugar level 8 and cliniced on level 10s.

Getting there slowly
And yet this morning, when I entered the indoor, the Demons swept in very Dementor-like.  I didn't know what hit me, my anxiety level was at a 10 and all the strength was drained out of my body.  WTF just happened?  I felt fine, actually great, until I saw the "JUMP" that was so easy.

God Bless anyone who teaches me...  I wouldn't know how to deal with this kind of anxiety...  Wait, I actually do.  I spent so many years learning coping skills that I teach this stuff.  Oh, right...  I did no prep work for my "big" jumping lesson.

Like the Buddha, our trainer did not ignore or deny the anxiety...  We invited Anxiety to acknowledge itself, invited it to watch (with a cup of tea, kind of) and continued on.  Eventually, bored, Anxiety left.

I jumped Ms Shanti... we're still not going big but I cantered over the "Jump" that had been calling my name.  And, I have a pony who is bred to jump.  When I finally reacted and ask her to balance around the corners while sitting on her haunches, I understood the difference.

There is amazing power and grace when she comes around a corner and seeks the next jump.  Her powerful hind quarters are under you and her front end is lighter and lighter - bold and eager - you know, there is a heaven and you're riding it.

Maybe my enlightenment comes slowly...  we are definitely working forward towards it.

For the full story from one of my favorite teachers, Tara Brach

Saturday, January 18, 2020


Tonight the lottery is at $321 million dollars and yes, I have a ticket.  Some say that the odds of winning are so slim, why bother?  I say, "I have my ticket and that one person will be me.!"

And, as my mind wanders into all the wonderful things I would do with my winnings, it hits me...  If I got one dollar for every time someone asks me why I still take lessons or mentions that I should know how to ride by now, I would already have all those wonderful things..
Shanti and the Happy Young Professional

Tonight, almost 12 hours after I stepped up onto the mounting block in an indoor warmed to a blistering 10 degrees (fahrenheit), I am still wrapped in the euphoria of a lesson well done.

Can I get that feeling on my own?  Without recreational objects to ingest?

If we are talking about riding... um... I confess, sometimes.  Yeah, that's right!  Sometimes I hop off my pony and I think, "That was fabulous!"  And sometimes I revel in all those moments that felt spectacular and celebrate the things we did to get there.

The key word here is sometimes.  And, here is a god-honest confession, a good portion of my rides are done with a head full of self-doubt, a mind just a bit impatient for results, and an ego that still thinks that someone else would be doing a better job. 

Sugar and I (Photo used with permission)
Left too long riding by myself, (no lessons) I begin to "not work on that, I may mess things up" or "is she getting ewe-necked because she's not using her back" and then there is the, "Am I ruining her?  Better not push, better not try, better just walk and practice halts and the free walk."  {{{All my horses are halt and free walk rock stars, just sayin.}}}

Two Girls Dreamin
With Sugar, lessons were strictly marriage counseling - bringing an old couple together to hash out their issues and bring harmony.  With Maisy, it was mostly about tapping in all that movement and helping us use her body well.

And, Shanti... wow.  She is young, appropriately green for her age, with move movement, suppleness and enthusiasm with just a hint of...  "If that's all you want, fine by me!"

Lessons remind me that I do know how to ride, they break the over-thinking log jam in my brain and they inspire me to do more.

Today, in the frigid cold, Shanti and I danced together, encouraged to ask for more and pushed to be better - together.  Our last canter, her hard direction, was light, powered by her hind end and floated up and through my body.  For the time we held it, I was in heaven...  This is what it should be...

Yeah, I still take lessons!