Sunday, January 25, 2009

(Bridle) Pathways

Do you ever feel like you're not on the right path? Or wonder where the hell the path you're on is taking you? I feel like that all the time.

Last week, on the 21st, was the two year anniversary of the day I took ownership of Missy. I had a lesson, which have been rare these days, and we cantered in a big circle off the lunge line. I'm learning to be more gentle when I ask and to open my shoulder so it is easier for her to turn, I tend to tense up on the right side when we start going fast. I felt really good and stable in my seat and in control, even though she'd been grumpy the whole lesson.

Two days later we were riding on our own in the big (jumping) arena. I was determined to ride even though I was in a melancholy mood. I rode myself mostly of my funk and wanted to continue our new routine of having her canter for a few steps in each direction at the end of our ride. To the right, perfect: she picked up the right lead, didn't bend to the inside too much, and even slowed to the trot instead of to the walk. So now I'm feeling pretty confident.

And we all know what happens when you start feeling too big for your riding breeches, right? Your horse makes sure you know that they've got your number.

Instead of staying in a big circle at the end of the arena where there aren't any jumps, I decide I want to go all the way around the perimeter. I get onto the straightaway to the left and ask her to canter, she picks it up and for the first few steps everything is fine. Then we pass the first jump and she realizes I'm not going to make her stay in a circle. In an instant, she puts her ears back and kicks into another gear -- now we are full-on galloping. Immediately I start to try to pull her back but instead I end up turning her head to the left, which makes her veer to the inside. Now we are headed straight for an oxer jump with white gate stantions and I think, she's either going to balk or she's going to jump it, either way, I'm bracing to fall. At the last possible second she pulls up and lifts her front hooves over the right hand side stantion. I honestly have no idea how we didn't hit anything. She stops on a dime, snorting and pawing. I guess she had fun. I almost had a heart attack. The girl lunging in the round pen asked if I was OK, apparently she saw the whole thing. "She seems hyper today", she says, and I say something to the effect that she's always like that. "Oh, she always runs out from under you like that?", she says, and instantly I feel like a complete idiot. I mumble something about her being green at the canter and ask Miss to walk.

I get her untacked and curried and settled into her stall and finally sat down on the tack room step and started to cry. I could still taste the metallic flavor of the adreneline in my mouth. I felt like I'd taken a huge step backwards. Isn't that always the way?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

525,600 Minutes

How do you measure a year? By any measure, 2008 was not a particularly good time for anyone I know. Having said that, I was fortunate enough to not lose my house in a wildfire that came way too close for comfort, nor have there been any foreclosures in my circle of friends, so at least we all still have a roof over our heads. There have been many disappointments, frustrations and sadnesses, but despite everything I somehow end the year and start this new one with a sense of...dare I say it...hope. Not the trite "yes we can" kind, although I am a supporter of our new president, but rather the personal light-in-the-darkness kind. Following a meme that's going around, here's my synopsis.

List 5 Five Good Things That Happened Last Year:
1. I rode Missy exclusively for the entire year.
2. I became much closer with a girlfriend I've known for a long time, a relationship that's had its ups and downs.
3. I took more pictures...still not as many as I would have liked, but an improvement over the previous year.
4. I went home (to Canada) for the first time in 3 years.
5. I feel much more comfortable and competent with the most challenging parts of my job.

List 3 Bad Things that Happened to You this Year:
1. I lost my best friends.
2. My long-dormant endometriosis raised its ugly head and affected my riding and my state of mind.
3. I spent much of the year fighting depression.

List 5 things you want to do in 2009 - not resolutions just a big picture to do list:
1. Ride more consistently and get Missy out of the arena and more comfortable being in open areas.
2. Go to the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas in April.
3. Write more -- I'd like to start work on something, I'm hesitant to call it a novel but there's definitely a story in my head trying to get out, and also here on my blog as it helps me to process the events of my day-to-day life.
4. Take better care of myself, listen to the cues my body gives me.
5. Ask for help when I need it, try not to live in my head and to speak my mind.

List 3 Lessons you Learned in 2008 - don't have to be related to the bad or good things as long as it was learned in 2008.
1. Things (and people) aren't always what they seem. I keep having to re-learn this year after year.
2. I still have a lot of stuff to work through.
3. I'm a better person than I think I am, my horse told me so.

Most Favorite Read of the Year:
Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks. I'd never read anything by Faulks before and now I am hooked and can't wait to read the rest of his body of work. It was the kind of book that I had to bookmark pages of so I could go back and read passages over again just for the beauty of the language, and it takes a lot to impress me literarily. Bringing together the history of psychiatry with a compelling love story in a historical setting was my cup of tea.

Most Favorite Movie Watched of the Year:
Atonement. Hands down.

Most Favorite Horsey Moment of the Year:
Cantering on Missy after owning her for 2 years and riding her for a year and a half.

Santa ordered me a new helmet for Christmas and it comes with a free matching fleece jacket! I ride English but I wear jeans and brown suede half-chaps, so the black velvet helmet is a bit out of place, besides, this one is a lot more comfortable and has great airflow. I should get it next week. What did Santa bring you?