Thursday, July 11, 2013

"That is my Favorite Horse!"

I didn't ride for very long yesterday, a storm was blowing in and it was unbearably hot/humid. My helmet made my head so heated I thought it was going to explode, so 20 minutes was enough.

Afterwards Pippi was cross tied in the wash bay as I untacked her. A lady and her grand-daughter stopped by looking for the BO. I said she might be in the house, as the only ones in the barn were Pippi and I. The lady turned to the girl who was around 12, and said "that's your favorite horse."
The girl stepped forward and said that Pippi was indeed her favorite horse. I immediately agreed of course, but stated that the BO's horses are pretty great too.

With the most sincere and earnest voice the girl said: "No, that is my Favorite Horse. Ever."

Pippi gets that reaction a lot from little girls. There is something about her look and sweetness that draws them in, and she knows exactly how to manipulate a person to get a treat. She is not too big, she is beautiful, has a long thick mane, and big warm eyes that look right at a person. I also think she is so still that people feel safe. When she gets a connection she starts the mind meld, and with a twitch or two of the muzzle the treats are handed over. Never fails.

Apparently this girl stops by when Pippi is in the field, and "even though I have never ever given her a treat she comes to me every time." So I guess this was more of a long range treat plan for Pippi, because all that sweetness paid off last night. And the girl was told that she can bring Pippi a carrot or an apple once in a while if she wants to. Pippi wins again!

Monday, July 8, 2013

How important is the Equestrian vs. The Horse?

I think this is a questions we all ponder at times, and it sure is something that comes up in discussions with non-riders. We just sit there, and the horse does all the work. Right?

Equestrians tend to bristle at that, rightfully so. We know how much work and dedication it takes to make it look like we "just sit there." Out goal is to make it look like we just "sit there," to make it look effortless. So we could chose to take that statement as a compliment I suppose.
But I think the real answer to how much "just sitting" we do, depends largely on the horse. Pippi is a ride every stride type of mount. If you want her to stay on the rail and go straight, you have to ride that or she will fall-in and stop in the middle of the arena. If you are unsure, she will take over and do what she wants to do. She is just waiting for an opportunity to do so. She is never robotic, NEVER, and demands that you stay focused as well. Super sensitive, but also demanding that you send clear messages and follow through. She is connected to her rider, and demands a connection back.
I know another horse that is totally different. This horse does its job. Regardless of what the riders does. She hears the loudspeaker announce "Trot, Trot your horses" and she picks up the trot. Forward she goes. She knows to trot for ground-poles, and cross-rails and she does. The riders, beginners and children, are safe and secure and have to do very little to get a great result, and they would have to do a lot to really screw it up. I have seen little girls with little to no skills look awesome on this horse, and beam with their blue ribbons.  She is a great horse to get a rider comfortable and gather self esteem, but not such a great horse to really learn on. She does it all automatically. No steering or anything really needed.

So how important is the rider vs. the horse? The answer is; It Depends! With some horses the rider is 90% of the ride, while with others the horse is. It depends on the training level of the horse mostly. Some horses like Pippi demands that you partner up, plus we are both learning new skills and so neither of us is automatic right now. Another horse may have a rider that is super green, but be so seasoned that the ribbons flow like water.
Sometimes it is hard, when you are working really hard, to know that you can't beat the team with the seasoned horse and the rider that is greener than you. But I do think you are allowed to take some extra pride in the fact that you are training your own horse, and so have more than just yourself to worry about. I do, and I will not be ashamed of that. I loved watching Pippi and Miranda because Miranda trained Pippi herself. My pride was doubled, and the joy was as well. When Pippi and I finally compete, hopefully in August, I will also be extra nervous. I don't have a push button horse, but I do have a real partner.

And by the way, here is pet-peeve of mine: if you are going to put on Facebook (or in a blog) that you placed in a class, please also say how many entries were in your class. The great thing about that kind of honesty is that when you place among few you look humble, and when you place in a big class you have earned the right to say so. Just my two cents.....

Friday, July 5, 2013

The more we know.... (not about horses)

I came across a picture of my first love a few weeks ago. Facebook sure brings the world to your front door huh?

I fell in love with this fella, lets call him "Surf," in the midst of the most dramatic period of my life. My mom had just suddenly passed away (within weeks), and I was alone in the world it seemed. Both my Brother and my absent parent had significant others, and I was all alone at the age of 18. I was, in hindsight, a sitting duck. Except I was not sitting, I was running after this fella like a little duckling.

He drove a cool car:
It was SOOO coool in 1989!

He did this for fun: 

He trained German Shepherds for the Royal Airforce, and wore a uniform a lot of the time. Come on, he was like THE COOLEST guy ever!!! He was good looking, liked to read books and poetry, and was the life of any gathering. 
He was also a few years older than me, and since I considered myself mature beyond my years, I felt that made sense. In reality I was mature in some ways, but had zero (zilch, nada, none) experience in many areas in terms of relationships and the inter-personal situations. At this point I knew that if you somehow was emotionally hurt by a person in a relationship, it was by accident and an oversight that could be explained and reasoned with. The other person didn't mean it because they loved you. How did I know he loved me? He said so!! DUH!! He told me about how he had never felt so connected with another person, not even his on-again-off-again ex-girlfriend. He said we were like a split soul, about how he could share all of himself with me, about how the hurts of his other relationship had damaged him, and that he was the luckiest guy in the world to have found me - the most loving understanding girl in the world. We would go for walks at the beach, sit and watch the waves, and eat ice cream. We had "our beach" where we would meet, and discuss he latest book he had given me, and talk for hours. Or I would hang out in his apartment while he played the guitar. But mostly we would meet at the beach. Okay - not just mostly.....we met at the beach, or he came to my house (I lived alone since Mom died). I was at his apartment perhaps twice. 
It was bliss!! He was so funny. He totally "got me" and all my messed up self (I saw myself that way). It was great to have someone to feel connected to. I had never been the kind of girl guys wanted. I was too tall, too skinny, too weird, too opinionated, too flat chested, and I had no idea how to play the flirty games other girls were so good at. I could only be described as "AWKWARD!!" Weird! Different! I know people say that, but I had not really had a boyfriend at all, and all my friends had all kinds of experience. I had even started lying to my friends, and pretend that I had done "stuff." So, that this super cool guy was interested was just awesome. I was head over heels. 

It continued for a few months. He came to my house one night, and broke it off, only to come back a few hours later ( I had cried for hours by then) to say that he just "couldn't stay away." It was complicated. I was so young, and he was so messed up, and with his military schedule he just didn't have time for me, and it was just not fair to me for him to be in a relationship with me. Wasn't he thoughtful? But he just couldn't follow through with staying away from his soul mate. He loved me so! Bliss!!

I decided to go visit my absent parent who lived in another country, and brought my best friend with me. I called his house from there after we arrived (no cell phones back then), and his ex-girlfriend answered....what? I asked for him, and she said he was in the shower. What? I swear my mind just shut off, but I asked who she was, and she answered "Soandso, his girlfriend" (all smiley voice on the phone) and explained that they had been moving her stuff in all day. Say....what now? I asked her to say that I had called and if he could please call me back, and she said "of yeah, you are "Ricks" sister right?" Yeah, I am ....(I had met him through my brother who was in the same battalion). I never heard from Surf again.....

I so wish I could say that I learned a valuable lesson that day. That I learned that people will work hard, make diligent plans, and lie right to your face, and feel no remorse what so ever.That they will keep it up for ever, for as long as it works and they get what they want/need. I wish I could say that I learned that people will use you in ways that gives them what they need at the time, that they will assume that you know "whats going on" and even if you don't just shrug their shoulders and take no blame. I wish I learned that you go from Victim to Volunteer without missing a beat, and that you may not know it and see the truth of it for years to come. But I didn't learn it right then. It was plain to see, but seeing it would have forced me to take a look at my own weaknesses and I was so fragile from my mothers death I didn't have the strength. Or the maturity and wisdom to stop and make sure I learned that lesson. Instead I trudged on, and made more mistakes in the same realm. 

I know it now. I should have understood this my whole life. My dad is a cheater, and the turmoil it caused our lives should have taught me this lesson about the lengths people go to. But although I saw my father lie, sneak around and cause devastation without guilt, I just didn't get it. Because it is not something that I would ever do, I just couldn't see that others would. The more we know......