I just returned from South Carolina for the second time in a month to retrieve one of my young horses (Look coach I just said one of, not my “special” mare) from her boot camp.
I am accumulating the number of horses I’ve started myself and I really do love starting them with my own program. We’ve all heard that not every horse is as easy to back or continue on up the levels with as the next. As my two up and comers are turning six and five this year, I’m approaching an unknown territory in the process. I’ve started client horses, gotten the basics on, made sure no one is going to be rogue and then handed them back and started the education from the ground, so their owners could take over. I have yet to have my own young teenagers to continue the training on. So, as I started to feel a little wobbly on the road, I asked my coach to take Tessa, my five-year old, for a boot camp/insightful checkup before she headed to Florida and I was on my own for the winter.
It’s funny when you get to a certain level in your education of riding where lessons become far more about practical theories and mental theories than it is about applying the riding. I’ve been with my coach for about four years now and as I feel a very kindred spirit with her naturally (all though she might be a touch more grounded than I am) I am very well aware the statements she makes are exactly what I need to hear when. In a VERY shortened statement her take away from her month with Tessa was just BE NORMAL.
I’m a bit tenacious. I’m a bit gritty. I’m a big dreamer. I’ve gotten as far as I have by clawing at every opportunity and refusing to take no for an answer. It’s a great thing when it comes to me wanting to keep pushing to be a better rider; it’s maybe not so great when it is coming to the time of teenager horses. Maybe you are the same way. We all struggle with wanting to ride more, be at the barn more, take more lessons, go to more shows, ride better, communicate better, make more money to buy more horses etc, but at the end of the day, our horses usually think of themselves as just another horse. So where does all of our own drive end up when we sit in the saddle? Right on the back of our horse.
They are just horses at the end of the day. At some point in their lives, we can eventually say, “Hey you’re special! Act like it,” but after this week of listening to my own coach and well as having the splendid opportunity to ride with Michael Barisone, horses, especially five to eight year olds, just need to be treated like they are the next kid on the block. Maybe most of you readers don’t find this a difficult statement to digest as I’m sure most of you have two-legged kids of your own as well as four-legged. What tasks do we expect from our third grade children? Somewhere along the lines of getting yourself up, dressed, ready for school, probably pack your own lunch, clean your room, keep your things picked up, and maybe add some more “remember your own tasks without me prompting”, but we aren’t asking the general assembly of children to do calculus. So we must not ask it of our young horses either, ESPECIALLY when they are as naturally talented as most are these days.
My coach made a good statement to me about leaving the horse I backed behind now. I should no longer assume I know who she is. She asked me to treat her like a new client horse that just got sent in to start preparing for third level. Where would I mentally go and what would I be looking for if it wasn’t the baby horse I’ve been bringing along these last two years?
The last key piece for me to stop striving for extraordinary and start living in the normal is for that to flow into my own life as well. I highly anticipate having this extraordinary life and I believe if I keep that at the forefront it will happen, but for me to truly help my teenagers grow into adults, we all need to hang out in the normal of life. I have a very normal rhythm currently and I’ve been panicking that normal will lead me no where and I’ve been pushing back on it, trying to find the next extraordinary step to life, but maybe, the routine I’ve set up is the routine we all need. My teenagers need to be grounded, just like any normal parent tries to make sure their kids heads don’t get too big in those formative years. So, here’s to living and accepting the normal until further notice.