Friday, January 22, 2016

Horsemanship, Relationships, and Success: A Closer Look

Alyssa came out and took some BEAUTIFUL pictures of Courage and I the other day.
right? how did she do this in an indoor??
Well let's back up.

First level is stressing me out. Mostly in a good way, but it's there. Even with an indoor, it's hard to ride in the winter. It's impossible to be consistent, and 85% of the time, I'm more concerned with relaxation than actually doing anything interesting (though when I word it that way, it actually seems like a good thing).
we've come a long ways in two years
I am a very driven, motivated person, especially with a big goal and a deadline staring me in the face. That makes it hard to accept that three days a week, I just toodle around the indoor on the buckle and chat with friends to give Courage a physical and mental break. I want to just WORK WORK WORK GIT 'ER DONE all day every day to super-extra-double guarantee that we don't embarrass ourselves at shows this year.

But I can't.

My horse would go nuts.

More importantly, I'd burn both of us out and change riding from a hobby that I enjoy to an all-consuming task that isn't fun for anyone.

And no one wants that, really.

So when Alyssa came out and took some beautiful pictures of us the other day, it was an amazing reminder of what I'm building with Courage. Not just pie-in-the-sky goals. Not just a vehicle to chase an arbitrary award from a bureaucratic organization that really is just in it for the money. That isn't what first attracted me to horses. If and when we achieve it, that won't be the pinnacle of why I'm here. I came to horses because I want more.

A relationship with a living being.

A partnership between predator and prey.

A subversion of the natural order of things in a way so simple and beautiful that it defies explanation.

Horses bring out that which is most in us--cruel people are made crueler and kind people are made kinder, all from the influence of the horse. They are a breathing thousand-pound microscope highlighting all that which is strongest in us.

And to me, the most and dearest and best thing is that relationship, that partnership. Not the awards. Not the satin. Not the glory.

It's going into his stall and breathing in the essential aura of horse. It's knowing that despite our disparate backgrounds--predator vs prey--centuries of blue blood vs middle class girl from nowhere--we can come together and be something more than just the sum of ourselves.

Something indefinably beautiful, even if only to ourselves.

I know everyone else sees a stiff old warhorse, a washed-up racehorse, a lower level dressage horse that's never going to "amount" to anything. He's a failed event horse. A creature too difficult for the average ammy and too old and plain to interest top talent.

That's not what I see. To me, Courage has become one of the most beautiful and amazing horses to ever grace the planet. I see the fanciest horse I've ever been lucky enough to call mine. I see soft brown eyes and a fighting spirit. A worthy partner. A fellow creature who challenges me to be the very best version of myself, every single day. He's someone who pushes me. Someone who makes me try. Someone who reminds me every day that success isn't counted in year-end points or national awards or public recognition.
Success is waking up every day and being proud of who I am. Proud of who I'm becoming. Success is doing all the hard work behind the scenes that no one will ever see or appreciate to create the groundwork of the person that I've always wanted to be. Success is going to bed at night satisfied with the life I lived that day.

Success is so much more than horse shows.
I still want my bronze medal. I'm still going to panic about not being ready and if I'm good enough and if I've trained Courage correctly and ALL the minutiae that's tied up in this silly sport of ours.

But if we never show again, never garner another ridiculously overpriced piece of $2 satin, I already know I've achieved everything I came here for.


  1. Looking really good on your position in that first picture and what a harmonious looking pair! Great perspective in this post. It really is all about the relationship and enjoying your horse with a little bit of achievement thrown in...

  2. That is a beautiful post! And beautiful pictures too. You guys look great.

  3. Aimee this was SO BEAUTIFUL and made me cry a little! I feel the exact same way... the incredible emotional/spiritual aspect of a relationship with a horse is far and away THE reason why we do this!

  4. Lovely post! And your position looks awesome in that first pic!


    (aka I LOVE this post)

  6. THIS. Shows (can be) fun, and they can certainly be utilized to track where you're both at and further your relationship with your horse. (Varying levels of chaos in new surroundings often require you and your horse to depend more deeply on each other than in familiar territory.) But they should never, ever be the entire focus.

  7. I wouldn't say "everyone", since I don't see him as a washed up war horse and I am sure there are a lot of people who don't! Love the pics

  8. ♡♡♡♡♡♡♡
    Great post

  9. This is amazing. For the record I think Courage is super cute and quirky and looks like fun. But what can I say I like the weirdos :)

  10. I think most people feel this way but it's always a good reminder! It's also the reason why there is a horse for everyone. Many wouldn't want my horse and I wouldn't want many others yet we all still think ours is the best 😊 I love it!

  11. Beautiful post! You and courage are inspiring

  12. "They are a breathing thousand-pound microscope highlighting all that which is strongest in us." - LOVE THIS!

  13. This is beautiful perspective. Courage is anything but ordinary!

  14. Wonderfully written; you've put a really difficult emotion into words. Bravo.

  15. i love it - the photos are gorgeous and your attitude is spot on. it's the journey, the little things, those quite special moments that make it all worth it

  16. Great photos and beautiful post!

  17. What an amazing post and an amazing reminder. I agree completely but sometimes it's tough for me to be in the moment and give my pony that respect. I've been doing better but this is another good reminder.

  18. This post is the best thing ever.

  19. Those pictures turned out amazing, and I love this post!

  20. I love reading this post, as opposed to reading your posts back when you were thinking of maybe selling him! I hope you bookmark this and read it every time you have a bad ride.


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