It Is All About the Journey

Here is my story.  I am a 59 year old rider.  The discipline I ride is not as relevant as to what I have found out about myself and what I hope others can learn from my story.  But,  I am an eventer – a legitimate Beginner Novice eventer.     The great part is that my story continues to unfold.  I rode as a kid, stepped away from it for a while and then came back to riding in my late 40’s.
But even when I was young, I never learned to jump.  I just rode.  Jumping was on my bucket list of things to learn.  So, when I hit my late 40’s the horse bug bit again and   I found a horse, found a trainer and muddled about.  I had dreams but that is about the extent of what they were – dreams.  I tried to have goals and I put dates on my goals but I always got in my own way a bit and these dreams remained that, simply dreams.   I did not have faith in me.  Where that went?  I honestly do not know but I became a fearful rider.  Fear and doubt are soul sucking and they sits on our shoulder and whisper – what are you thinking?  You will NEVER be THAT person.  And I listened and let it get the best of me.  Fear and doubt  keeps us from finding our true selves.  Fear and doubt allow us to settle.

I had friends that did not just dream, but they achieved.  They did “things!”  Things I wanted to do, yearned to do but never truly believed that I could.  I was the outsider looking in, the support person while my friends did the things I wanted to do.  And, I hated it and I while I wanted it, the whispers continued – why dream?  You will never achieve.    Now, do not get me wrong, I tried!  But, I never go to the place I wanted to be.  I was never at a 3 day event with my friends, feeling the excitement of walking up to the start box and hearing the best phrase in the world – the countdown followed by – Have a great ride!

So, what changed?  Where and when did the switch get flipped?  Well, here is what I learned.   We are limited only by ourselves – nothing more.  My mare, Josie (16 year old red headed Irish Draught) got injured and had to have surgery for bone chips.  This caused a move on our part and a change of focus.  I found a new trainer who believed in me.  I rehabbed Josie and began working with Beth.  Beth Stelzleni is and has been a Godsend to me.   I remember having “the talk.”  The talk of, here are my goals and are they truly obtainable.  Her words?  Yes, they are and you should have already been doing them with this horse.  You are the only one that has prevented you from achieving these goals.  She also said, trust me and do what I say and you will get there.  So, I did.    Now, the goal was not to WIN but merely to DO!    I decided that I would no longer have woulda’, coulda’, shoulda, moments in my riding life.  I was no longer willing to settle.  I wanted to “do” things.  I decided that I would no longer let fear and doubt rule me.

There are quotes and passages that I remembered as I began this journey.    There was a blog post from Jane Savoie who said we should look at fear as a positive – “Fear means you’re growing. Every time you stretch yourself, aim a little higher, or take a risk, you’re going to experience some anxiety. So fear itself is not the issue. Fear doesn’t make you a coward. There’s nothing wrong with being afraid.”

From Simon Sinek on nerves vs. excitement- he said in his TED talk – “how everyone deals with situations where we face pressure, and the tendency is to think we are nervous. The body reacts with an increased heart rate; we get tense and maybe a bit sweaty as we anticipate what is ahead. Interestingly, these are the same reactions our body experiences when we get excited.  The difference involves learning to interpret the signs through another type of lens. Instead of thinking we are nervous, we need to view it as a level of excitement.”

I will NEVER forget my first lesson going cross country.  I had a 45 minute trailer ride to Ashland and the WHOLE way there I went – I am excited, I am excited, I am excited.  And when the lesson was over?  I WAS excited and so happy and proud!  Fast forward to competitions and we DID things.  At each one I was pushed a bit more than the last.  I was told, you WILL canter this whole stadium round.  You WILL canter cross country.  And, I did!

Here is what else I realized, the fear and doubt never really go away, the journey is about finding out how to deal with them and how to keep the whispers at bay.  For me?  It involved finding the right horse and the right trainer.  The hardest thing for us to do is to realize one or the other is not in OUR best interest.  It does not mean that the horse we have is bad or untalented, it just means they are not suited for us.  The same with trainers.  Find the trainer that builds you up, but not in a false way. Beth calls my hand on my faults but does so in a way that continues to support me and my goals.  I asked her once why I was so dependent on the neck strap – she said because I did not have faith in myself or my abilities.  She was right.  When I stumble and struggle with an exercise (grids) she will tell me that either it is okay because they are harder or she will say she is surprised I struggled with a particular one.   Either way, I know I am progressing.  I also know that progress is not a straight line but rather one that has it ups and downs.  And, I am okay with that.

My advice is to find a program that works.  If a horse or trainer takes from your cup, move on and find a trainer and a program that becomes your tribe.  I am so blessed with the people in my life who build me up and support me.  My goal is to do the same for them.  Find a Josie, find a Beth, find the Holly’s, Jamie’s,  Dawn’s, Danielle’s, Amanda’s and Kloie’s in your tribe.  The funny thing is?  My tribe runs from 11 to 59 and I learn from each and every one of them.  Again, we are only limited by what and how we choose to limit ourselves.  My other advice?  Get in shape and do the work that you are asking your horse to do.  That is my current quest and I am on the right path for that as well.

 

My goal?  AEC’s in Kentucky in 2019.  I will be 60 and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate my 60th year.

 

Fear as Incentive

I need to start this post with an admission and a realization.  I can be a chicken-you-know-what rider.  What I have realized by that statement and from my, newly found, search for me is this.  That is how I have chosen to define myself.  No one else puts that exact label on me – I do.   I have been told, by my friends, that I am NOT chicken.  My trainer tells me I am my own worst enemy and that when I #actuallyride I indeed, actually ride.   The phrase – get your head out of your ass and ride – might have been uttered a few times under her breath and not under her breath.

So, why do I hold myself back in my riding and in other aspects of my life?  I am coming to conclusion that it is because of fear.  And not necessarily fear of getting hurt or fear of failing.  Heck, I have gotten hurt (thankfully not seriously) and I have failed (check out some of my scores).  I think, in part, it is fear of fear, fear of the unknown, fear of expectations,  fear of having to do the actual work involved to be successful and lastly, the fear of success and having to maintain THAT.   With this realization comes the realization that there will always be some fear.  It is not the fear that controls us, it is how much control we give that fear.

My own personal fear comes from lack of trust and faith in myself.  The trust in my abilities and faith that I can actually do the things I need to do to become a better rider.  I originally titled this Fear as Motivation and hated that title.  I think the actual word  “motivation” is BS.  “Waiting to be motivated” has never gotten me anywhere.  It has not helped me get fit.  It has not helped me lose weight.  It has not helped my riding one iota.  The only thing I have accomplished by “waiting to be motivated” is to kill time.

Here is what HAS helped me.  The actual doing of things.  The actual making the phone call to a former personal trainer I worked with and saying “I need you back in my life to help me get fit (and white breeches worthy).”  The actual going to clinics and taking lessons and pushing my fear envelope just a bit more each ride.

When I think back to the lessons that were not so successful I realize it was not because of Josie but rather me.   I realize that our success is governed by me actually riding and not simply being a passenger.  When I get mad (at myself, seldom at Josie) I do better.  When I call myself out on my own BS I am better.  Be it riding or be it life.

When I look back over the past year I realize that the things that cause fear have changed.  The fear line gets pushed a bit back each ride or each thing I do to make myself a bit better.  Things that would have frightened me a few months back?  Not so much now.  This is where I circle back to fear as incentive.  I am NOT fearful but rather I have the habit of using fear as my – I just can’t (fill in the blank).  That  is just BS as well.

When we actually DO things – great things result.  When we let fear rule our lives we miss out on so much.

I can remember when I have let fear rule and when I have kicked fear in the ass.  Simple grids can cause fear in me.  Maybe it is being in front of others and comparing myself and my ride to theirs (never a good idea).  At a clinic we were doing grids and it was just bad.  Teeny, tiny jumps (poles on the ground if the truth be known) and we just sucked.  I took Josie away and we galloped.  One friend asked another where I was.  The friend said – I think she took Josie out to gallop and get her in front of her leg.  The other friend looked and said – Cindy??  I don’t think so.   It was not that she thought bad of me – but she knew me and knew the chicken Cindy.  We came back to the group and we did better.  That day?  I kicked my fear in the ass.  My first canter through water?  Kicked fear in the ass.  My first #actuallycanter the entire stadium round?  Kicked fear in the ass.

The other thing that helps is realizing that the sensations we feel with fear are exactly the same as when we are excited.  Heart beats faster, breathing gets faster.  It is better to use the word excited rather than scared.  This is one I need to remember and hold onto.  So, moving forward I will use my “excitement” as a way to motivate.  I will also think of the awesomeness of the start box.  The countdown before we start our ride and the joy of flying and the big ass grin when we cross that finish line.  10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 – Have a great ride!  When those last numbers are counted down we do NOT hesitate – we just ride.

Three weeks until Josie has last shockwave and rehab begins.  Here is to the awesomeness that is ahead of us.  Hear is to not being afraid of the hard work ahead to achieve our goals.

Here is to the start boxes of our lives – 5, 4,3,2,1 – Have a great ride!

Ode to the Trainers!

Trainers can make or break you my friends.  They can give you wings or they can band your wings and you will never fly.  In my limited riding career I have had both and trust me when I tell you to listen to that inner voice that says – girl, you in danger (ode to Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost) and danger being a relative term here.

Trainers are not God.  The good ones, in my opinion, know this.  The not so good ones?  Not so much.  The controlling ones?  Run, Forest, run.  I was talking to a friend who told me about a friend she had who had purchased a fancy pony by a trainer and was told she could not ride HER OWN HORSE!  WTH??  If your trainer helps you select a horse and then says you cannot ride the horse she helped you select?  Give her that tilted puppy look and say – yeah, no.

If your trainer does not want you riding with other people?  Move on.  Find that trainer who is SO confident in her own abilities that she does not feel threatened if you want to go out and ride with others.

If your trainer says – no, you cannot go to that show by yourself and compete.  Move on.  Well, unless you have only gone Beginner Novice and you tell her you have entered Prelim at your next event.  Again, girl, you in danger.  In that case?  Heed the advice of said trainer when she goes – might want to reconsider THAT decision.

If your trainer will not have a dialogue with you about the care of your horse?  Move on.  You might not agree on what you decide to do but in the end?  The decision should be the owners and not the trainers.

If your trainer cares more about your pocketbook than your riding goals?  Move on.  This is a partnership and if you ain’t improving?  It might not be solely your fault.  A trainer that keeps you dependent is not the trainer for you.  Wings, people, wings.

Here is the ode part – I am truly blessed right now in the trainer I have.  Do we always agree?  No.  Some of the disagreements might seem trivial.  I am NOT a whisker clipper, she is.  I respect her on this and she respects me.  Josie has her whiskers.  I want to re-explore barefoot eventing.  Beth is on board. Her take?  As long as Josie can do what we need her to do – have at it.

Trust me when I tell you that Beth puts up with a ton from me.  The fact that I currently have on a t-shirt that has a unicorn astride a triceratops with the phrase – To The Disco (thanks Holly!) might give you glimpse into what Beth must deal with.

I get in my head way too much and because of said in my head – we have the following hashtags  #actuallycanter #actuallyride.  The fact that I have moved from one to the other is pretty impressive in my book.

Here is my ode to Beth.  I hope and pray your have a Beth in your life.

Because of Beth I have found me.  I have found my voice when it comes to my horse and to my riding.  I push myself (sometimes better than others) because she tells me I can.  If Beth says – go jump that – I will go jump that.  She will NOT ask me to do anything she does not know, in her heart, I am capable of doing.  Now, I might not jump it pretty – but I will at least try.  I no longer have woulda’, coulda’, shoulda’ moments.  I go to clinics and I do things.  I jump things and I have a blast doing it.  I push my fear envelope a bit and what caused fear a year ago does not cause that same – holy sh*t I am going to throw up in my mouth sensation.  I am no longer on the outside looking in on my friends and the adventures they are having.  I know the things I need to work on and have a plan in place to do so.  I love my lessons and cannot wait to get back at it once this lesion thing resolves.  She celebrates my success and consoles me on my failures.  She calls my hand on my BS and is honest with me.  When I struggle, she lets me struggle and does not sugar coat my struggling.  That she is surprised when I struggle at something I probably shouldn’t have struggled with?  Makes me more determined to get past the whispers in my ear that tell me I can’t.  Because she had given my the voice to tell them to shut up and that yes I can.  Everyone in her program is supportive of each other – we are a team and we are family.  It makes the experience so much more fun!!

Find your own Beth people – you will be glad you did.

Again, this is where it started for a chick who two weeks prior was scared to canter ground poles….

#thetrainerheadtilt #whenIgotmywings

PSA and Current Status

To keep you up to date, we had first session of shock wave therapy.  Over 2,000 pulses to deliver healing to my Josie.  Two more to follow.  We will do another ultrasound to see how healing is going and determine if light work can commence.  My vet has a very precise procedure to follow.  Ours might be a bit longer as I am going to see if barefoot works for her.  At the end of the day, it is all about what works for her.

45 days into this session of rehab and hand walking gives one time to think, ponder, obsess, plan, scheme and worry.  You can also become a bit of a pill.  Your horse?  Unless they are in pain, care not and really might be blissfully happy with how things are shaking out.  Josie is nonplussed by all of this.  I have no delusions that she longingly hangs her head over that stall door and goes – what?  No riding?  No dressage?  No jumping?  Okay, that last one might even tick her off a bit.

For me?  I am trying to not be a total b*tch about the entire thing.  Possible lease horses that seemed so perfect are not appearing in that empty stall at the barn.  I believe that things do happen for a reason, so I am taking it as a sign to get some other things taken care of.  I am at that point of – forget the lease, whatever.

I have started my list of things to NOT say to someone who horse is rehabbing.  Some are things to say TO the person and there are some things that you just don’t say AROUND that person.  Now, the things to NOT say?  Well, a couple you can say IF you are willing to actually HEAR the answer.  If you are NOT ready for a 15 minute talk?  Don’t ask.

  1. How is Josie (or, fill in any rehab horse’s name)?  She is healing – I hope it heals completely but I have moments where I worry that she won’t completely heal – do you REALLY want to go down that road with me?)
  2. She looks good! (SHE is blissfully happy – I feel like crap but putting on a happy face)
  3. Still handwalking?  (as one is handwalking)
  4. Have you tried…. (have a plan in place – thanks)
  5. Have you thought of…. (google is my friend)
  6. It could be worse….. (we know it could be worse)
  7. At least it is not… (we say that to ourselves every time we whine about a mere 90 days)
  8. At least it happened while it is so hot (or so cold, or so rainy – you get the idea).
  9. It is SO hot!  I already rode and I am DYING!  (really?  I just walked my horse for an hour and I am equally hot and did not get to have the same fun you just did RIDING!)
  10. I am just not up to riding my multiple horses today.  (really?  I feel ya’)
  11. It could be so much worse! (Yes, I am guilty of saying this to a friend.  We know it could have been worse.  We are grateful it is NOT worse but this still sucks)
  12. How long will the rehab take?  Forever.  For-freaking-ever…

Here are the things we do want to hear

  1. This completely sucks for you – I am so sorry!  (Thanks!  It really does and I DO appreciate you saying simply this!)
  2. I hate that you can’t do the…. clinic, camp, lessons you love.  (Thanks!  Again – just this)
  3. We do want to hear about the fun things you are doing with YOUR horse!  Even if I can’t participate I do want to share in your fun!
  4. Call our hand when our whining gets out of control.  (Are you REALLY my friend?  Call out my BS – no one wants to be that whiny cow all the time)

I am grateful for the friends I have in my life that put up with my pity party moments.  I try and not have them too often, but they do happen.  I know this is just a bump in the road and it will all be okay.  The timing is what the timing is.  I do enjoy the walks and I do enjoy just that time that is ours.  Yesterday, as we walked, she and I were just “there” and Josie nuzzled me.  I know it will be alright and that she will be alright.  We have our talks.  I have explained to her that she needs, in the future, to NOT be so forgiving and to call my hand on some of my BS while riding.

This too will pass and be a memory.  We will take our time and not rush the rehab and be back out doing the stuff we love.

 

Feedback Loop – It can be Heaven or it can be Hell

April 27 seems longer than simply a month ago.  But about a month ago was when Josie got injured.  Now, the good news?  We are 30 plus days into a 90 day rehab and the knot on her leg has gone down.  First course of shockwave is this Thursday followed by 2 more and hopefully a return to work.

The first 30 days of hand walking consisted of me and Pandora.  The next 60 days incorporate my summer reading lists of audio books.   Here is that list, if anyone is interested.

Braving the Wilderness – Brene Brown
Getting to Yes – Roger Fisher
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
Conversations with God – Neil Donald Walsch
I thought it was just me – Brene Brown
The Year of Yes – Shonda Rhimes
Sacred Success – Barbara Stanny
5 second Rule – Mel Robbins
Playing Big- Tara Mohr
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind – T Harv Eker
The Desire Map – Danielle LaPorte
Awaken The Giant Within – Tony Robbins
The Big Leap – Gay Hendricks
Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself – Dr. Joe Dispenza
Daring Greatly- Brene Brown

I use to be a huge reader and somewhere along the way, that habit passed.  I am choosing audio books because of the sheer amount of time I am on the road with my day job.  It beats listening to news channels where, ironically, no real news is given.  I am two books in and the second one I downloaded I am listening to for the second time.  It is The Subtle Art.  I must say, it is epic and very timely.  I do think this is a must read for everyone.  Whether or not this book would speak to you or not – there are points to ponder.

One thing I find myself do (and am working on to NOT do) – The Feedback Loop from Hell.  What happens with this lovely little loop is we find something to fixate on.  It might be the smallest thing on the face of God’s green earth but we do it.  Then we get mad at ourselves for going down that road because we know it is silly.  THEN we get mad that we are getting mad.  For me?  It is all about my perceptions of where I SHOULD be in my riding.  Comparison is a bitch.  It is hard to not go down this path.  Here is my feedback loop.

Me: I should be further along than I am, I suck as a rider

Me: Are you kidding me? !  Look how far you have come!  Two years ago?  Hell, one year ago you were just “doing” not #actuallyriding.  Sweet mother, get your head out of your arse.

Me:  Geez, you are right, I suck for thinking I suck.

Me:  But look at what so and so is doing, look at them!

Me:  Really?  Didn’t we just cover this.  Geez, you are exhausting!!

Me:  Well, now I feel bad for making myself feel bad and putting myself out and exhausting myself.

#mybrainisacomplicatedplace

The good news?  I am normal, or at least I hope I am normal!  I think we all do this to a varying degree and we are NOT doing ourselves any favors.  Yes, there are people who are way further along than I am but there are also people who would love to be where I am.  It is how it always is and how it always will be.

Here is something else I am learning.  If I don’t fail, I won’t progress.  Yes, doing something right is good but failing at something and THEN getting it right?  That is a sweet feeling.  Beth is constantly telling me that when I get out of my own way I am better than I think I am.  The trick is to get out of my way more and quicker.  Then I can progress, then I can improve.

I want to be brave and bold.  But wanting to be something is not actually BEING something.  The question is one for me to continue to ponder and work on.  How to be brave and bold?  At the heart of that question is another one – how can I be brave and bold if I do not trust myself and my riding?  If I believe I can, truly believe that I can do whatever it is I want to do – then I should be able to.  That I can’t be brave and bold on a consistent basis speaks more to the fact that at some level I still do not QUITE trust myself and what I can do.  I WANT to trust myself – I just don’t.   Still working on this answer but I do know that part of the answer is in the doing, in the failing and in the accomplishing.  I have to be unafraid of failing in order to be brave and bold.

Acknowledging the feedback loop and finding a positive one rather than the one from hell?  That is what the goal is.  Well, that and a sound pony…….

!  

 

 

 

Shenanigans Afoot…

As anyone who has rehabbed a horse knows – stir craziness ensues.  And I am not talking about equine stir craziness.  Josie is loving life right now.  Walks, hand grazing, small turnout, her fan and all the hay she can eat?  Yeah, she is wondering where this has been all her life.

The stir craziness is mine.  Now, here is the downside of actually DOING stuff.  You want to keep doing things!  You want to ride in clinics, you want to go schooling and you want to take lessons.  With Josie’s last rehab (bone chip surgery) I was fine with the 90 days off.  I was able to make some huge life changing decisions and I NEEDED that time to process everything.  Last time, I was NOT in a happy place so just “being” with my girl was enough.

This time?  I MISS riding!  I am trying to stay positive and looking for the good.  Looking at some “self improvement” to make me better when Josie is back into work.  We are also taking another look at Josie going barefoot.  She competed all last year barefoot and was wonderful.  New plan in place for that.  Who events barefoot?  Would LOVE to hear from you!

To the riding end – conversations with my wonderful husband – Al (the most patient of men).

Me: Hey!  What are your thoughts on my buying another horse.

Al:  You have two….

Me:  Can’t ride either one

Al:  Well, that IS a problem

Me:  Is that a yes?

Al: No – not a yes

Me:  What I bought one to resell?

Al:  That requires a capital expenditure that you do not have

Me:  Darn it

Me:  What about a lease?

Al: Proceed!  (clearly of the mindset of happy wife, happy life or there are golf clubs I want to buy)

So, lease it is!  And what might be coming down the pike is going to be so awesome for the time Josie rehabs.

I did have a talk with Josie about this (as we walked to 85+ heat) and she knows she will always be first and as long as there are treats, walks, grooming, treats, grazing, treats and ear rubs – she will be fine.

So, the next bit of time will be interesting – learning a new horse, rehabbing and transitioning for Josie, spending time with Katie (just putting halter on, leading around and scratches to her itchy places) and making me better – should be a fun time ahead!!

Next for Josie will be shock wave treatments. Two follow ups and hopefully back to rehab under saddle after the 90 days.

Life just got a bit more interesting!

rehabwalk

Plot twist!

So, Josie has a lesion of her check ligament.  Not the worst news I could have received, but still – clearly not on my bucket list of things to occur.  As I said to my vet.  ” So, this is not a holy sweet mother of all that is good and holy injury but rather a well, damn type of injury.”  He said YES!    60 to 90 days off and then rehab begins.  After the first 30 days, we do shock wave to help the process along.  Reevaluate after the three treatments and go from there.  The info the vet sent me indicated that it would take a good 10-12 months for full healing.  So, now she is a stalled princess with a ton of hand walking.  She is getting walked daily – about an hour at a time with some limited small lot turnout (as long as she makes good life choices and just grazes- otherwise?  Back to the stall she goes).

An interesting thing happens when you hand  walk your horse  for an hour at a time.  You ponder, think and reflect.  I reflect about my horse, my decisions with her and whether I am doing right by her.  99% of of the time?  I feel I am a good owner.  That 1% will eat me alive as I ponder her, me and our next 90 days and the next year after that.  I also have time to ponder  other things going on in the horsey community I love so much.  With other things comes this – why is it okay to pile on and be a cyber bully.   Why is it okay to be “that person.”

Now, don’t get me wrong!  There have been some good posts with some really good dialogue.  Not some of the comments directed at offending people but yes, some of the dialogue is good.  Those are what needs to happen – some of the other comments?  Yeah, not so much.  It can be quite an eye opener to see some of the stuff people feel free to type.  Then it, seemingly, becomes a game of “let me top you over the top comment with one of my own.”  Did I mention eye opening?

The past week, in eventing circles, has been VERY interesting to virtually anyone with a keyboard and an opinion about “things that happened at Land Rover” and the sh*t storm and the power of social media.  While I do not want to get into any specifics and give my opinion there is one thing that does concern me.  I am not a fan of the cyber bullying that I see and read.  Comments that shake me to my core.  The ABSOLUTE freedom people think they have to say things behind the safety of a computer screen that they would NEVER say to a person’s face.  I know, I know – there are some who SAY they would say it to that person and I really will call BS on that.

Here are a few things I find quite interesting.   There are those that are admired and looked up to and there are those that are not.  Those that are admired?  They are defended – regardless of whatever they did.  It is excused, and it is blamed on the circumstances and forgiven.  Hopefully they learn and consolation is granted with that thought.  Then there are those that are NOT admire.  THEY are fair game.  NO excuse or explanation is good enough,  There is no looking  the other way.  For THOSE people?  There is no other chance and they must pay the piper.  They can never make amends.  Ever.

A friend of mine posted  a blog about when does concern become a with hunt.  Needless to say, there were a ton of comments about the particular point of the post.  Then another friend pointed out about another popular rider and something that occurred on one of that riders trips around a XC course.  To that comment?  There was a defense – the popular – I hope you never do anything bad in front of a large group.  Here is my question – why is one person fair game and another, seemingly, off limits?  Bad behavior is bad behavior, yet some are excused  and the others?   Well, the others are roasted.  Nothing seems to be good enough unless it is banishment from the sport.  Loss of sponsors and rationalizations for the most horrid of comments.  Justified?  That is an interesting call and one I cannot make.

When asked about civility,  those who post say they do not owe anyone civility based on the nature of their actions and choices.  That is what I wonder about and disagree with.  I cannot control what another does, I can only control my reactions to it.  I can be civil.   I can try and have a discussion with someone and maybe we can come to a place of common ground.  Sometimes, on Facebook, I will dive down the rabbit hole of a post.  Sometimes I agree, sometimes I do not.  I don’t name call and I don’t belittle them.  Yet, I have had it done to me because I will not acquiescence to their opinion.  This keyboard gives us such freedom.  The internet gives us such freedom.  What we choose to do with it and how we choose to respond?  That is on us.   I hope we learn to be better.

Timing and Figuring out the Why’s

Timing has hit me square in the face twice in the last week and now I get to figure out the why of each.

The first is a gut punch and a wake up call all in one.  Josie is injured.  Lesion on her check ligament with a minimum of 60 days of stall rest.  Why did this happen now?  How did this happen now?  We were making such great strides and life was good!  But, as everyone knows – horses can be fickle and one wrong step can slow down progress or end a career.  I knew something was up after Gibbes.  I just knew – the swelling on her leg was not normal.  Was I grateful it was ONLY the check ligament?  You bet I was!

I was really proud that I had not gone off on my standard Google search and reading all the worst possible scenarios.  Having dealt with a horse with a suspect suspensory injury I knew the fickle nature of that one.  My immediate thoughts went to splint (too high), deep digital (please God, not that) and medial (again – please no).  So, yes, I am grateful it is the check ligament.  This is a totally recoverable, no limitations injury – just do the protocol and we should be fine.  Shock wave is in her future after 30 days.  For now?  Josie is enjoying the life she really feels befits her.  No work, a ton of hay and hand walking.

So, here were my choices – rail against the universe, whine and bemoan my misfortune of move forward.  I have come to realize that setbacks are a part of life and it is how we choose to look at them and try and figure out the why that makes us better or worse.  As my vet and I talked things out, planning for the next 60 days I decided I could take the 60 days to improve myself.  Later, in this post, they why became a bit more evident.  Since Josie has a (as I like to call it) not a  – sweet mother of God and all that is holy – injury.  But rather a  – well, dammit – injury, I have decided to take the 60 days to improve myself.  Improve my fitness and improve my eating and be a better partner for her.  We are now on full preventive protocol moving forward – icing, poultice and wrapping – the whole shebang.

I had no plans to go to Land Rover Three Day at the Horse Park this year.  But, fate intervened and my wonderful friend – Sally offered me tickets.  I said yes, then tried to bail when Josie got hurt.  We were set to leave on Thursday but I could not go – vet due on Thursday.  My trainer – Beth said – go to Kentucky – I will update you on what vet says.  Nope, just couldn’t do that as I had to hear it first hand.  Got the news, stopped at Dunkin on my way out of town to drown my sorrows and drove to Kentucky.  Knowing that Josie was left in more than capable hands made going a no brainer.  Beth and Jaime had my back and getting away was what I needed.   The texts and pics of Queen Josie being pampered helped too!

So, off to Kentucky I go.  Here is when the why started to make a bit of sense.  Now, I am a huge fan of Leah Lang Gluscic.  HUGE!  I am lucky enough to know Leah and am not ashamed to say that she is my #WCW on a regular basis.  She is such a good rider, does right by her horses and can clearly spot a diamond in the rough.  Well, her course walks at Land Rover Three Day (the event formerly known as Rolex) are quite wonderful.  She explains her thought process of walking the course and her prep to get there.  What she said  when asked about how she gets fit hit home.  She does it because she owes it to her partner.  She doesn’t feel like she can ask more of them than she does of herself.  That hit home with me – big time.   So, yeah – time to change up some things and be a better partner to Josie.  Part of it we will do together as she can be handwalked as much as we want.  An hour of walking will help us both.  So, there was my first why – I need to change for her and for me to be a better partner.  Did my lack of fitness play a part in her injury?  Maybe.  Regardless – that now will change and by putting it in words – it causes accountability.

 

Here is where things get surreal.  At least for me they do.  Me and my friends were at cross country at Land Rover.  We had hung out at a few jumps – the hollow, then went by the picnic table and then went to the ditch and wall.  There I made a video and chose to do it in slow motion (cause I LOVE that feature on my iPhone).  Here comes a rider so I am ready.  Little did I know (at the time) that I was videoing Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST over the ditch and wall and then decided to post it online.   To say it was a hit is a bit of an understatement.  I have never done anything that remotely went viral in my entire existence but for this one short video.   Now, what are the odds that I would be at that jump at that precise moment to capture this on video?  I had not planned to be there to watch Michael Jung go over this – timing!  Talk about being at the right place at the right time!!   Timing is everything in life and figuring it out can be a head scratcher moment for sure!  Current count is 780,000 plus views and going strong.    3,000 plus reactions, 11,400 plus shares and 300 plus comments.  A ton of new Facebook friends who are loving and sharing this brief 11 second video.   Comments from people all across the world!  That one thing could bring so many people together with so much positive energy and just the sheer enjoyment of watching one awesome rider and one awesome mare fly is quite amazing to me!

So, yeah, my journey with Josie takes a pause but I am excited for the pause because I need to be better,.  I need to be stronger and fitter for my partner.  (Thanks Leah!).  And, now – maybe some other people will also see our story because of a short video.  And maybe, just maybe some part of this blog will ring true to them and give them the encouragement to not quit but to embrace this journey we go on and to develop this partnership that we all so richly deserve.

To be around the people I am around is quite rewarding for me and I hope each of you are as lucky as I am with your village.  Mine grew quite a bit this weekend.  Enjoy the video again!!

Feeling like the weakest link

We all remember the TV show in which it was the ultimate utterance – you ARE the weakest link.  Well, that is what is currently ruminating through my head and trust me, it is not a pretty place to be.  Shared the meme with a friend as I lamented my failures related to the past weekend – imagined and real.   She is a true friend in that she lets me wallow – but only for a bit – then we have real discussions on why I feel the way I feel.

Why do I allow myself to go there?  More important – why do I allow myself to REMAIN there.   Does it serve a purpose?  Doubtful.  Yet, there I be and there I struggle to exit the pit of self pity and self indulgence.

The clinic was a three day clinic at lovely Gibbes Farm in St. Matthews, SC – an eventer’s paradise.  Trust me on that.   Water, logs, banks, ditch and walls, trakeners – you get the picture.  You want a jump?  It is there and the levels are from Tadpole to Prelim and beyond.   The weather was PERFECT!  No rain, no cold and wind was manageable.  The company?  Again, PERFECT!  Some of my absolute favorite people were at the clinic.

The clinic was set up as follows – day 1 was grid day.  Jumping from arena footing into grass footing so we could get use to changes in terrain and adjusting our horse.  Days 2 and 3 were all XC – starting with basics and moving to small courses.

I am a slow starter when it comes to the lessons of the day.  It takes me a while to get out of my head and actually ride.  That in and of itself is cumbersome and frustrating.  Why do I have to get mad to actually ride?  Not mad at Josie but mad at me?  She is only mimicking those signs and signals I am giving her (the tattletale).  It is ME.  We work through my issues and end up having a good ride.  As I sit here typing away I am able to focus on the positive while pushing some of the negative out of my head (the struggle is real people).  Were we better than last clinic?  Yes.  Did I get to the #actuallyriding faster than before?  Yes.   So, all in all – day 1 was a success.

Day 2 – out to the big field and off we go jumping all the things.  Well, all the smaller things – Beginner Novice – hopefully.  Here is where the problem lies in this brain of mine.  I jump the jumps and do as I am told.  Yes, I was able to get my head out of my arse.  It took a while – but I did it.  I do all I can to NOT compare myself to other riders in the group. I promise!  But, I do compare and therein lies the weakest link projection and there that tiny demon lady sits on my shoulder whispering in my ear – you ARE the weakest one out here.  But not during the ride – it is well after that she visits.  I despise her and I do all the things I know to do to kick her out of my head.  Dang it woman!  Look how FAR you have come in a year!  (back story for those catching up – I am 59 and a late in life eventer.  I only REALLY learned to jump about a year ago so yeah, I have THAT going for me).  Last year at this time the thought of #actuallycanter scared the every loving crap out of me.  Wait, what?? Canter TO the jump and then JUMP it?  Are you mad?  But now?  Yes mam – and I am off.  We jump everything I am told to jump and I am pleased with myself – THEN….

Day 3 – short lived – Josie was slightly off so off for icing and wrapping she went.  Does that play into all of this?  Maybe.

Where the demon lady creeps is looking at ALL the pics from ALL the other riders.  They fly.  There are pics of them in flight over the jumps.  None exist of me – I cannot find one and for that reason, the whispering begins.  Comparisons absolutely suck.  I wish there was a fancier word but for the moment it simply escapes me.  Gawd!  Do not get me wrong!  I am so happy and proud of my friends and what they accomplished over the weekend.  Their posts showing their awesomeness were wonderful to read!  I was there!  I saw it!  I embrace it for them as I know their struggles.  Ponies coming back from injuries.  Ponies who were overlooked because they are snowflakes. I KNOW their struggles and still I compare myself to them.

I know, in my head, that this is my journey and I need to embrace THAT.  Embrace my improvements and embrace how each ride my envelope gets stretched a tiny bit more.  That is what I tell myself in my head.  My heart?  That is a different issue altogether.   I long to be able to throw my heart over a fence and follow it.  I long to totally and completely get my head permanently out of my arse so I CAN #actuallyride.

What pictures I do find I pick apart with a ton of self criticism.  Again, why?  Why do I do that??  What purpose does it serve?  Self critiquing, in my opinion, is not the same as self criticism.  One is educational – the other is self defeating.   As I work through this, and I will work through this – I honestly have no other choice but to work through it – I am thankful that I have the support I need TO work through it.

I will say that doing this blog does help as far as exorcising demons.  Getting it out there is cathartic and will help me work through it. 

 

It is all about the journey.  Each ride  I learn something about myself.  Some good, some not so good – but I am better than I was the day before.   That makes me hopeful.

Trust

Trust is such a powerful word.  For me, as an adult amateur my list falls into four categories.

Trust your horse.  How many times have you heard the ride gets easier looking through the right set of ears.  I will never forget my first course walk at Rolex when I questioned Kristin Schmolze on the sheer SIZE of the jumps.  She said when you know the course, know your horse and consider the time spent learning your craft – you trust that knowledge and kick on.  I have heard that sentiment echoed by other upper level riders and by pretty much all successful riders.  I am very fortunate that I have the absolutely best horse for me right now.  Where I am emotional – Josie is level headed.  IF I do my job correctly, she does hers.  If I don’t?  She feels there is a “teaching” moment to be had.  Evidenced by earlier post on getting to a jump straight.  #tattletale

Trust your trainer.  Ah, this one can be a bit tricky.  Finding the right trainer for yourself can be a journey in and of itself.  My advice?  Do not be afraid to search for the right fit for you.  Remember who is paying who.  I do not mean that in a “I am going to lord over you the fact that I pay you money so HEED my words.” kind of statement.  I mean it more in a  – if it isn’t feeling right, if you don’t feel like you are progressing – question that (which will lead me to the final trust item).  To me, a really good trainer will be totally okay with you taking from other people in addition to themselves.  A really good trainer has your interest at heart and wants you to succeed.  They recognize your limitations and push jussssst enough to get you out of your comfort zone so that you can ultimately soar.

Going down a side road for a sec.  I read that fear can be a good thing.  Not the – I am totally freaking out and will meltdown and you will have to pick up the pieces – fear.  But rather the – you want me to do WHAT?  And you do the WHAT??? And you survive and go – piece of cake.  Fear means, in that instance, that you have stretched your envelope a bit and now have something new to, next time, stretch it JUST a bit more.  That is how we grow and get better.

Back to trainer.  Find that trainer that stretches your envelope but knows not to split the thing wide open and everything spill out.  Thank you Beth Stelzleni for stretching me and helping me fly.  When you find a trainer that says – I did nothing other than help you get out of your way?  Keep HER!  Learn from her!  When you find a trainer who welcomes your questions (as long as you LISTEN to the answer and TRY to do as she instructs) – you will do great things!

Trust your tribe.  Find people that motivate you and listen to them and LEARN!  My tribe is HUGE and they all deserve a post of their own.  That will be forthcoming.  They all have things in common.  Humor, love of riding for the sake of riding, competitive, dedicated to learning more and supportive to each other.  My tribe goes from Beginner Novice me to 1* riders.  I know some higher level riders as well.  To the ONE we support each other.  No level is better than the other – we all have our struggles.  I am blessed to have these people in my life.

The final trust is the hardest!  Trust in myself.  I have had, in the past, the devil that sits on my shoulder and whispers – stop!  You are making a fool of yourself.  You cannot do this, you never could do this and to think other wise is a pipe dream.  I have, for the most part, kicked that guy off my team.  He has served no purpose other than holding me back.  No longer, never again.  He  might “try” and whisper but I shake my head and go no, not today.  I trust myself.  I trust my decisions and I trust the process of learning to do this crazy sport.  And, I am having fun.  We, as a collective adult amateur community, DO have this!  We can kick ass and take names.

This weekend I am off to Gibbes Farm in South Carolina (eventer’s playground people) and one of the people I will be riding with is Kloie.  Now, the great thing about her?  She is still in grade school and she inspires me.  You WILL see her at Kentucky Three Day in the future and I can say I rode with her.  I will NOT let her do things and me at least not try!  So, find the trust, find your inspiration and kick on!  And, finally – I will continue to find the joy in this journey.

This pic is ALL about trust!  Trusting my trainer (don’t look, just kick), Trusting my horse (don’t look, just kick). Trusting myself – I GOT this.  This was the FIRST time I ever jumped anything other than an 18 inch jump.  To this day, it fills my heart with joy.

JosieMe