I’m writing this post on a bit of a whim. Usually, I have all of my topics planned ahead, strewn across a cluttered note on my iPhone, patiently waiting to be transformed into an article on the blog. Not today, though… I’m writing by the seat of my pants. Yoga pants, I should confess.
For me, a typical Sunday includes a morning at the barn with Leah, followed by lounging around my house and catching up on household chores I’ve prolonged due to tiring workdays. Today, my schedule changed, and I found myself back at work to check in on a few office odds and ends. Tomorrow, I start the process of merchandising the store for our Black Friday Event, and for the next three days, I sign my social and barn life away to the shop.
But that’s beside my point.
While at work on this glorious fall afternoon, I had the privilege of helping a young woman ride a horse for the very first time in her life. She and her husband were from Korea, although her husband was a Boerne native. He had promised her a chance to ride a horse during their trip here in the United States for Thanksgiving, as barns in Korea are few and far between, and usually fairly rundown according to their explanations. This is my version of true love.
After initial introductions, I knew this experience was going to be something special, not only for her, for me, too.
She climbed aboard without hesitation, confidently swinging her leg over the horse’s back and settled into the saddle like a true professional. I couldn’t help but gawk, as most first-timers find the whole “mounting” procedure awkward. Fair enough. Most first-timers are also nervous, a timid tone in their voice, but she differed from the norm. A radiant smile grew across her face, which lingered all through her ride. She enlightened me with what daily life in Korea was like, sharing tidbits about the culture and her career as we walked around the arena.
I soaked up her positive energy like a daffodil soaks up the warm rays of sun.
Each time we would change direction across a short diagonal or successfully execute a halt, she would exclaim excitingly the amount of fun she was truly having. Her genuine enjoyment of the horse set the tone for the duration of her ride, and as we said our goodbyes in the barn isle, I instantly recognized the underlying meaning of what I had just witnessed. Cue some inspiration.
Me and my first pony, Brightwood... The opinionated, strawberry roan, Welsh Pony that I love with all my heart.
Remember the days of being a young, horse crazed child in elementary school? Our free time was consumed by horses, and if you were anything like me, you counted down the hours until the school bell rang so you could promptly change clothes in the backseat of your parent's car and head to your riding lesson. Time spent at the barn or in the saddle was anything but stressful.
This got me thinking on the drive back to my house, and inevitably, I knew I had to start formulating my thoughts into this post.
The curves in the road signified the curves in our daily equestrian lives… Things definitely aren’t as straightforward as they once used to be. With social media on the rise, the ability to scrutinize riders by the level of their dressage test or the height of their jump is easier, more readily available. You’re judged by the quality of your riding outfit, the brand of your boots, and the maker of your tack. People quickly categorize you from behind their computers, tablets, or smartphones. It’s the new way of the world, which is utterly unfortunate.
My childhood with Brightwood in a nutshell. God bless ponies.
When we were young, these factors simply didn’t exist. We cared more about picking up the correct posting diagonal than what level we intended to debut the following show season. We enjoyed the company of our ponies, or horses, and preferred showering them with kisses to picking out the perfect pair of breeches. We weren’t aware of just how competitive this world can be, or the pressures we subconsciously put on each other, or, more importantly, the subconscious pressure we put on ourselves. We rode without worries, anxieties, or any other types of anguish.
Thankful for my mom who captured these money shots. All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth..?
I’ll step off my soapbox now. BUT.
What I’m trying to say is this: dressage is not about personal gain; it is about personal growth… a special type of growth that just so happens to include a four-legged animal as our partner. Heavy on the word "partner." Seeing the woman beam with pure, innocent delight today only solidified the fact that regardless of levels, ribbons, scores, #ROOTD’s, we do this sport because we love, and enjoy, the horse.
Short and sweet, this blog post is simply a reminder to take a step back from the vernacular we seem to easily get swept away in. Enjoy your horse, and thank them profusely for tagging along in this journey we call life.