Slider went to his first show and blew my expectations out of the water! He was calm and composed, brave and willing, and everyone loved him. There isn't too much that can be said about a ground poles course. He never took a peek at the jump fill piled off to the sides, the various dogs and people all around the perimeter or anything else. He was so good that I was wandering the show grounds with one hand on the reins while I chatted with friends. We even hacked over to the neighboring property to wander around the derby field.
It was a really great day. We won a second place ribbon and I bought the coolest hat at the traveling tack store. A friend approached me about finding her an OTTB as apparently everyone thinks I pick nice ones. I really appreciated the complement.
The other thing that happened this weekend was RK3DE (Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event), the pinnacle of eventing in the United States. I think it ends up being a bit like new years for equestrians, a time to get inspired and make goals. Watching four days of world class riding, seeing the smiles and tears, you can't help but to evaluate what you are doing. It can be easy to look at the tip top of the peak and be overwhelmed by the journey to get there or it can be motivating. For me when I watch those horses I remember that every one of them jumped a first cross rail. I remember that for probably every rider, there were moments in their lives when their families hoped they would get a real job, or to give up the child hood dream of earning a Pink (red) coat.
For every success those four star riders have had they have also had failures. They all started somewhere. There is no set path to success in the equestrian world. The one thing required is to give it your all. You can't kinda want to go to Rolex. You can't kinda want to do dressage at Devon. You can't kinda want to become a Jockey. If you only kinda want it, that is ok, but that goal or dream will only kinda come true. Maybe you really want a good job, children, a house with a picket fence, all of that is great. Go after the things in life that make your eyes sparkle and skin tingle. For me that is horses. It is buckling on my helmet and swinging my leg over the saddle. Whether I am feeling a young horse finally grasp the concept of steering or an older one figure out the transition from being bent away from lateral work to being bent towards it or that ultimate feeling of a horse that starts to truly seek the jumps. Those are the things that make my sun rise and set.
As I work through this transition from trying to get a 'real' job to choosing to concentrate on horses, I also do regular soul searching. I have to up my game, if this is what I'm doing then I need to be the best that I can be. I don't have the distraction of school, I am letting go of the distraction of judging myself for not currently using my college degree. If I wasn't married I would probably be packing up a bag of clothes, tack trunks, and my truck and trailer and be heading south or east to find a farm that needs some sort of an assistant. I would love to work under a bigish name rider and hone my skills. While that type of a harebrained adventure isn't actually going to happen there are other things that can. I can choose to work that much harder every moment that I am in the saddle, I'm not just trotting around for the sake of trotting, I am training the horse that is under me. I work for straightness and impulsion, I work for a better position, my core is engaged, my mind works daily to be more and more patient. I choose to be even more motivated, riding in worse weather, riding more horses, making better schedules.
I can't kinda do this. If I am going to get anywhere I have to be all in. I have to be ready for any opportunity that comes my way, I have to be willing to allow big life changes (like moving to other states). Everyday I have to keep training my brain to not judge myself, if I can't support my dreams how on earth could I expect some one else to. Everyday I choose to go all the way, I refuse to kinda want my dreams, I refuse to kinda work towards my goals. Everyday I am choosing to do what I believe in, I am going to be that person with the smile on their face and twinkle in their eyes. Every big rider had to start somewhere, I am starting here.