Monday, November 19, 2012

Me and the Big K

My Reality

Yep. He's going back to being called the Big K. Here on the Chronicles, that's who he is -- but we know.


We  held our cow by a whisker on her nose. She ducked and turned and Madonna was suddenly scrambling. We had barely caught up, barely saved our position, when it happened again, Madaonna was turning late, her weight shifted to her front end and as she was pulled herself across our line, completely losing the ability to snap through our next turn. Her head came up, my anxiety came with it and leapt ahead of us both.

 "Janet, stop."

I lifted my reins and Madonna came off her cow with obvious relief. I waited for her to settle before I looked to K and heard what he had to say.

"What were you thinking?" His tone was even, his question, as usual, literal.

"Something like, AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!" I said.

K rolled his eyes and he smiled a little. "I meant before you created that mess."

"What?...I'm not sure."

"Well, think on it." He sat quiet in the middle of his saddle, his bright blue eyes intent on mine. We weren't going anywhere until I worked this through.

I broke his hold and looked back at the dirt, thinking hard. "First I was just riding, then I started liking what was happening, then I wondered if I turned on the crock pot this morning, and then Clare drifted through...and I was behind."

"I could see it in your eyes about two beats before the horse felt it," he said. "As soon as she tried to find you  she fell a step behind. The cow picked up on it and took advantage -- you were so far away you didn't feel it until everything was out of control."

"How can you see it when I don't even know it's happening?"

"It's in your eyes. One second you're riding, your eyes are taking in the whole deal, then I can just see those outside thoughts come in. I just don't get how you let that happen. How can you be in the middle of a cow and start thinking about a crock pot?"

"I don't mean for it to happen, it just shows up, then I start worrying about why it's there and I'm still not on my ride."

K shook his head, letting the full, sorrowful, "I just don't know how to get through to you," look wash over me. I immediately felt guilty and useless, and very aware of my lack of Marlborough man genes. Suburban. Housewifey. Ugh.

This mind reading thing, the way we spoke without words, was so unnerving. K could tell how I was feeling by the way I drove up to the tack room in the morning. I could read his mood as I led a horse down the barn aisle, even if he was out of sight, pulling the blanket off a horse in a stall.

We shared a birthday and an OCD passion for the mechanics of a cowhorse. There was more though, we could find each other across a crowded warm-up arena at a horse show. K could coach me with no words spoken. I could hear him shouting clear as a bell in my head. "Step up! Look up! Make it happen, quit hoping it might!" Worse yet, I could feel the waves of disappointment or disapproval, right in the middle of my fence run, piercing through my thoughts of AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! and, Wonder what I should make for dinner?

He could walk past me after a run gone wrong, from a mistake on his part, and know I had felt it the second he had let the colt jump into those sloppy spins or try to dive into his turn on the fence. Not because I saw it, he was too good at covering and recovering in the show pen for me to pick it out, but I always felt the change in his mindset, felt the slap of disappointment in himself. Sometimes he hated me, just a little, because I knew.

What the heck was it? Twin brothers from a different mother was all I could come up with...


I jumped a little and Madonna started, scattering the cattle.

"You can't even hold a conversation today. I'm not wasting my cattle on you when you're like this. You have got to find a way to hold your focus when you've got a horse working. I know you can, I've seen it. Go get on a colt or two, make it something froggy so you'll get your mind back. We'll see where you're at on the cows tomorrow."

I sighed, and left the arena, he was right. A skittery colt might bring me to ground, although I was pretty good at wondering who was getting eliminated from Idol tonight while wrestling some bucky little baby around.

I headed toward the two-year-olds and made sure I pulled a couple froggy ones.


  1. I sure need a lesson on focusing today.

  2. Man, it's unnerving when you know someone that well and vice versa, isn't it? But it's also really, really cool.

    Thanks for sharing this :)

  3. "How can you be in the middle of a cow and start thinking about a crock pot?"


    I'm glad you're calling him The Big K again - Tim seemed too strange :)

    Great story, something to think about on a slow workday!

  4. We were talking about this with several other couples recently. Men think in a linear fashion. Women multitask, so can think many thoughts at the same time. When running a home, women have the advantage. On a horse, men do...
    Physically, also... Not fair.

  5. Ridgerider-- Woman CAN multitask. They don't have to. I believe that.
    Too many successful women horse trainers, yogi's, mediators out there to not believe it.

  6. Kinda what RIdgerider said... that was your inbuilt multi-tasking ability popping up, unrequested. I suppose the best female horse-trainers, yogis, whatever, are the one's who have learnt to make it only pop up as needed.
    Not me, unfortunately.

  7. I have the same problem...but it's when I'm trying to get something done around the house...I catch myself getting so side tracked...and tell my self "focus!!!"

  8. Have to tell you guys, it's not multi-tasking. My issue in this case is my rampant ADD. Diagnosed, not by myself.
    Multi-tasking is the ability to execute and complete several tasks at the same time.

    My brain refuses to take a task through the necessary steps to complete it. It tells me, so you want to stop the cow? Fine, put the horse in front of it. Then it moves onto other things.

    This is a sample of one of my weak areas, but I never say, "Oh well, that's how women are."

    I work on it. Hard. And I have learned to tap into a lovely resource ADD folks have if thy can learn to tap into it. It's called hyper-focus. Blows linear thinking out of the water.

    I also do not believe, for one nano-second, that men are better with horses than women.Different, yes, better? No. Been around the horse world too long. It definitely breaks down to about 50/50 if the riders aren't hampered by good old boy bias.

  9. I think often this kind if thing is more anxiety than multitasking. Men often don't worry about that kind if shit because they often don't have to.

    I think I asked a while back how you get your head 100% in the game when you ride because now I only ride a couple of x a week max, I find it hard, which when I rcode 'properly' I never used to. So you bet I'll be watching for the rest of this story!

  10. Whoops, didn't see you reply while I was typing. scratch that then. Although I think it stands as a general theory.

  11. I also have a "lack of focus" issue. I've been known to think of something to add to the grocery list during a riding lesson. Sigh.

    You seem to have one of those brains that just doesn't shut off. It's constantly humming. Mine does the same. It's really quite irritating.

    I think the spookiest thing about this story, is that Big K (I like that name better!) knows you that well. I suppose it's both a blessing and a curse, huh?

    Can't wait to hear what happens next!

  12. Back in the day, when I was still jumping, I never lost focus on a course. That was one of the things I loved about it, no matter what else happened in my life, it all disappeared when I got on my horse.

    Now I'm not so good at focusing, I don't know if it's age or lack of practice. I enjoyed reading this post a lot, but after I read the part about the crock pot, I thought, "It's been a long time since I used my crock pot, I wonder what Mugs was cooking that day?" I found myself reading the last sentence wondering how I read that much while thinking about crock pots. It's contagious.

  13. Add me in...when I'm riding on my mare, and we are all relaxed, I start daydreaming...and (now that you write it down) that's when she'll reach for me and I'm not there...and will give me a spook :)

    I try not to daydream but be in the moment with her. My gelding is my daydream horse!

  14. So here's another train of thought. It's exhausting to hold onto a single purpose for ore than a few minutes at a time.

    Although I fully believe I need to be there mentally for my horse while I'm gong down the fence, cutting, saving sobbing old grannies from burning buildings etc. I also feel the stinking horses should let us daydream. Dang it.
    I WANT to go down the trail thinking about living in a cave in the mountains with my horses and dogs.

    I want to try to figure out how to paint the late afternoon light on a clear day, without it looking like a cheap postcard when I'm done.

    I want to shape my stories.

    So how do we get the horse to get our focus back without falling apart? That's my question.

  15. Being totally focused on something until suddenly you wonder if you locked the door? Or realize you're really going to need more cheese tomorrow and suddenly you're running through your shopping list and missing out on your orgas... Cow. I meant cow.
    Yes, I know this feeling.

  16. Very good Tansy. Have you met Becky Bean?

  17. I started flunking my college classes because I kept forgetting to go to class (not purposefully skipping - just forgetting.)

    I paid $300 to go to a psychologist to get tested. She said it looked like a clear-cut case, then gave me some paperwork to take home and fill out and mail back to her and she'd see about getting me on Ritalin.

    She sent me home and said "remember to fill this out and follow through, and I will give you some drugs to help you remember to fill this out, and follow through."

    Six years later, I still have that dang paperwork.

    What a racket.

    Tansy - I seriously thought I was the only one who had that happen to them.

  18. Wonderful to meet another trainer with ADD (yes, mine is diagnosed). I'm right on my game when I'm riding a rank or green colt, but when I'm on an older or finished horse? Bad things happen. It's like daydreaming, but impossible to snap out of.

    You're so right about hyperfocus being an incredible tool. Too bad I can't make it work all the time.

    And the times it does work are usually at 2 in the morning when my brain decides that I NEED TO LEARN HOW TO DANCE THE SALSA, LET'S LOOK AT YOUTUBE AND PRACTICE!

  19. You got that right Liz -- says the woman who has been up solving the world's problems, but not writing a single word, since 12:30 a.m.

  20. Mugwump that has made an old woman feel better,I have a tendancy ( well maybe worse than that )to daydream. Every damn time I do it the blessed pony instantly goes about doing his own thing. If you were on one of your trails could gaurantee you'd end up somewhere you didn't want to go.On the whole have to admit my pony is more intelligent than me & is very quick to notice that my mind has wandered.

  21. ROTFL @ Tansy. Yes. Been there. (Him: Wow, this is taking a long time today. Me: Sorry hun, got 50 other things to do today...)

    Also been there on horseback. But I try to only let myself do it on my seriously broke gelding (who will also take advantage if I don't at least periodically 'check back in' on a ride).

  22. AAAHHHHHH! This is my LIFE!

    Hyper-focus is for real. It's what made me able to read a book when I was a kid. I mean, nothing else existed when I was reading. The more I learn about ADD the more I think it's a blessing-curse. I think the trick is to work with it, not against it.

    A lot of my riders have ADD. There's something about it that works well with horses. We have to be in the moment when we're with horses.

    But I'm still struggling with it. I've always got 14 things on my mind and I still find it hard to empty everything except what I actually want to be doing.

  23. Just read comments -- Tansy, hahaha!

    Becky -- wow, this is a running joke in our family. Two of us have this pill to take that will help us remember to take the pill that helps us remember to take it. But we keep forgetting.

    Can you imagine how big a ritalin/ concerta pill you'd have to give your horse?????!!!!!

  24. We're socialised to run the households. Each day, we have to keep on top of a million details and try not to drop multiple balls. We're the ones who worry about those rainclouds because we have washing on the line, and whether the next load might be starting to smell if we don't get home to hang it out soon. What's in that crockpot, and whether we have the right vegetables at home to make a side salad or potatoes. WHat forms we might have to sign for the kid/s for school tomorrow. Whether we have suitable things for their lunches. Dental appointments. House cleaning for an upcoming party. Buying a birthday card for someone. On and on and on...
    Although things are changing a bit for the better, these things are still very much put on us. Could you concentrate better if you'd had most of the shitwork looked after for you for most of your life, and you're just expected to concentrate on your paid work (and for the big K, that's what riding is)? That's what male privilege looks like. It's not some kind of essentialist genetic predisposition to multitask. It's a mental habit learned over years. Media types and pop psychologists love to describe these traits "hard-wired" becuase then there's no need to address any structural inequality.

  25. Froggie made me smile too.

    My brother was recently diagnosed with adult ADHD, they told my mom I was when I was in kindergarten. It kept me from graduating university. That, and the complete disillusionment that I wasn't going to become a world class biologist who is was going to live in a tent surrounded by lions and zebras...

    I feel like I'm in good company here.

    This is off topic but it's been bugging me... How do you describe what you read or see in your horse or animal without anthropromorhising them?

    Example... Horse spooks at something you do and looks at you like "what the $?#*!!!!!"
    Horse looks at you like

  26. Helen, I am inclined to agree with you.

    I was riding in a clinic a few months ago, and the clinician mentioned something about artistic privilege, and then questioned if he had that right. I told him that it is artistic license, and white privilege. I didn't mention male privilege, but I was probably already pushing my luck because he was a cowboy from Texas who probably believes in things like manifest destiny and the like.

  27. Reading that made me think of SOOO many of my lessons on cutting! My mind always wandered and then I would usually end up in tears from getting yelled at...but I wasn't in tears from being yelled at, I was in tears because I was mad at MYSELF for disappointing the trainer and for not doing what I KNOW that I could do!
    My friend and I joke around and say that we have AD....OOOOH SHINEY. (Get it? We can't even focus long enough to say ADHD..LOL)

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