While Boyfriend will still have his blog (www.IamBoyfriend.com), I am starting one to chronicle the adventures of my first horse. He did something for a few years besides stand in a field. ;-) The blog is called One Good Horse (not very original, I know). Website: www.thecompletecappy.blogspot.com
At 13, I took lessons for a little over a year, and leased a few horses at a private barn, but I was not a good rider. I could sit a pretty wicked buck, I could deal with a horse that leaned... and beyond that, I was abysmal.
In college, I signed up for horseback riding before my other classes. The counselor looked at me oddly, but I didn't care. This was finally my chance to become what I always wanted to be: A good rider. A rider that was a suitable partner to the bold horse that jumped fences and ditches and galloped as I had done so many hours in my mind.
When classes began, the realization of how uneducated my riding body was was immediate and humiliating.
I got better.
I even got good, relatively speaking. I was always more passion and theoretical knowledge than natural talent, but I worked hard and became a passingly good enough rider.
While those years were spent riding mostly hunt seat, my real desire was to event.
A college friend, J, became a working student for a well known eventer. Helping her family haul her horse down and seeing the beautiful facilities and horses made me more certain than ever that this was what I wanted to do. The facts that I had 1) only been jumping since part way through college, 2) a deep seated terror of death by jumping, and 3) no money (or even familial support) didn't sway me.
|Said well known eventer|
For spring break my senior year, another eventer on my college team was going to England to look at some BHS instructor courses, and I joined the trip. Among many wonderful horse and interesting experiences, one stands out that, in essence, has affected most every major life choice made since.
I rode a good horse. There were many interesting horses, but it was an unassuming looking bay mare, aged and with opinions of her station, that had a profound effect on me.
Somewhere in the far flung British countryside (Cornwall?) at the barn of Crazy Chocolate Guy, we had finished up a morning ride, myself on a monstrously large black gelding (He's green and doesn't steer real well, but no worry) who I felt was already well past flying mach two (KICK! KICK! KICK! I will say, you girls have lovely form. Americans always look better. We could use our riders putting a little more effort into form. But you need to be EFFECTIVE! Now, KICK! KICK!), my short stature-d friend on some similar creature. CCG wanted her to ride another horse, an elephantine chestnut that was a National level heavy weight field hunter. I thought this might prove interesting to watch. When he asked if I wanted another ride, I hemmed, hawed, and said, "Maybe just a hack on something?"
I regret that I do not recall the bay mare's name. She was probably a bit northward of 16 hands, but after the massive creature I had been on before, she seemed decidedly small. I tacked her up, and with the uncomplicated instructions to "ride her up the lane a while", she and I struck off.
It was a beautiful British morning (with sun!), and I am on a beautiful horse on a narrow country lane. Life could not be better. Although, it is rather narrow. There's scarcely room for one car to pass us; what would happen if two came up of a sudden? In my brief time in that country I'd realized the" stereotypes" of crazy English drivers on narrow, hedge-blinded lanes are firmly anchored in fact. They are no exaggeration.
As I looked at the enormous hedges on either side, I got the strangest feeling of calm. I can jump those came as clearly from the mare as if she had spoken aloud. And I could see it. I could see her leaping over (well slightly through at the top, like) these hedges that were at my riding eye level as we marched briskly down the lane. It was an amazing feeling coming up through the tack, a feeling of confidence and ability and knowledge of her power. There was a certain ~certainty~ to her walk, as well, that just filled me with the humbling knowledge of Horse. For the first time ever, I could envision myself actually riding and jumping all those things fearlessly. Everything feels possible on a good horse.
Arriving back at the stable, CCG asked if I enjoyed my hack, and I said very much so. "She's a good old girl, went around the Badminton a time or two. Didn't win, though."
Back home, less than a month later my friend J asked me to come out to give her my opinion on a young project horse she'd had for a few weeks.
The gawky little bay horse had that same certainty, although he clearly didn't know what it was.