Taking Off The Training Wheels

So many times in life, we skip the questionable, more dangerous road and opt for the safe, albeit lackluster path. Why do we do this to ourselves?

Many times it is the comfort of knowing what you are going to get. Opting for the chicken option means that your digestive system will most likely not object to dinner. Ordering the beef carpaccio or tuna tartare means committing to eating raw meat. Scary it can be, but oh the party in your mouth you will get when you dare take that first bite.

How about signing up for the class with the professor who gives open book, multiple choice tests? Been there, done that, but did you really learn anything? Why didn’t you risk taking the class with a professor who asks thought provoking essay questions? Fear of failure holding you back?

Trying something new always means risking failure. “But what if I fail,” you ask, “Won’t people laugh at me?” Possibly. You might even find that you laugh at your mistakes or hiccups (like when your horse decides to poop in the middle of every single test and ruin two or three movements…) Or perhaps they will respect that you tried. Perhaps you might inspire them to take that next step towards their dream.

So, my friends, Ike and I are taking off our training wheels and removing the safety net. We are fully committed to riding our first ever Fourth Level test. It will be our only class each day at next month’s show. (I dropped our backup-in-case-I-chicken-out Third Level class tonight.) Good, bad, or ugly, we will give it a go. The butterflies are already starting to flutter.

Here’s to taking that scary first step towards our silver medal.

alison

Advertisements

Happy Gotcha Day Ike!

At approximately 8:00 a.m. seven years ago today, big man arrived in Virginia. Traditionally, the seventh anniversary gift is something made of copper. Hmm, I can think of nothing that Ike would appreciate that would be made of copper. I suppose that I could pay his board in pennies, but something tells me that neither Ms. C nor the bank would appreciate that gesture.

Ike almost celebrated his arrival with stall rest. He decided to run laps in his field when a couple of the ponies got fired up as a thunderstorm rumbled closer. He got a little off balance rounding the corner and lost his hind end. Whomp! Ms. C said he then showed off his sliding technique and ended up with his legs under the fence. Thankfully he did not panic. She said he used his ability to sit like a dog to extricate himself. He is missing some hair on his lower legs and had some minor swelling, but mercifully no lameness. He did not seem to appreciate my admonition of his antics.

Instead, we will be celebrating his anniversary with a lesson to finish preparations for our next trip down centerline. We are sticking with Third Level next weekend, but our sights are set on Fourth Level in September. I still marvel that the horse who had difficulty cantering a straight line as a three-year-old is prepping for Fourth. Somehow, despite my lack of coordination, Ike’s lack of fancy pedigree and a huge dollop of self doubt, we have slowly worked our way out of the lower levels.

The year to come promises to be a fun one. Poor Ms. C has to somehow teach the girl who almost twisted her ankle while standing still (there were witnesses in case you are wondering) how to do tempi changes. I wonder if there is a dressage trainer support group where they commiserate about their frustrations? “Hi, my name is Ms. C, and it has been 382 days that I have had to repeat the same comment to one client. When will she learn?!”

Here’s to slow progress forward,

alison

Coach McGinty Was Right – You Need Heart

20180426_144641.jpg

In the 2000 movie The Replacements, one of the final scenes is a sports reporter asking Coach Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman) what the team needs to win the pivotal game. “We need heart.” The reporter asked again, and he repeated as he tapped his chest, “Heart, we need heart.”

I realized today as Ike and I got back to work after my vacation and some weather delays, that while he may not have the most brilliant gaits, what he does have a heart of gold. He tries to understand all my requests as feeble as they may be. After almost two weeks off, he gave me three clean changes on the long diagonal. We tried the trot tours for Third 3 and Fourth 1 with relative success. I smiled with glee at the straight lines and round circles in the freshly dragged ring. We moved through our paces as if we’d had no time off.

It is a shame that there is no score for heart because I would give Ike a 10 every time.

alison

The Face

So we just returned from a week of relaxation at the Outer Banks digging our toes into the sand with a cold drink in hand. On the day we arrived home, I headed out to check in on the big boys after just an hour spent unpacking and loving on the dogs who were overjoyed to see us.

In contrast to the exuberant greetings from the dogs, this is the face Ike gave me:

I surmise based on the faces Ike was making that he was either displeased at my absence or bothered by the fact that he received no souvenir from my travels. The week old carrot obviously was not enough to appease his majesty.

Thankfully his mood improved today, especially after I scratched his neck and withers for 15 minutes.

In other news, we are entered in a one day dressage show in mid-August. Time to focus on the white-fenced sandbox to earn our final scores for the USDF All-Breed Awards. If only someone would decide to host a dressage show at the oceanfront, we could combine the best of both worlds…

alison

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to guess what Ike’s weight is. Ike says he is glad that we did this now instead of when he comes out of winter with a little something extra around the middle. Guesses ranged from a svelte 1,211 pounds up to a full ton. My joints are extremely grateful that Ike does not top the scales anywhere close to 2,000 pounds. In total, we had 32 guesses.

And…without further ado…

The…

Winner…

Is…

Karen Siebert!

Her guess of 1,330 pounds was only 5 pounds away from his weight of 1,335 pounds.

Congratulations! I will be in touch so you can pick your prize.

alison

Squirrel!

Sadly, I have never outgrown the crazy horse girl phase even as I close in on my “vintage” years. I still have my original hobby horse from when I was a youngster. It was taller than I was for many years, but it was still my only horse until I was 37 years old. And, before you ask, I stopped riding him well before I was out of my early elementary school years.

My first horse. I seem to have an affinity for the brown ones.

I am that person who will call out, “Horse!” every time I see one in a field while driving. It is like breathing – involuntary and necessary. I smile when I see a truck and trailer headed down the road. There is a magnetic force that pulls my car into the parking lot of any tack store I find. Once inside, I am the kid in the candy store, deliberately stifling my excited squeals as I puruse the newest breeches and riding shirts. Put a horse in an advertisement and I will stop flipping channels.

In the office I am known as “the horse lady.” I am known for other things as well, but those things need not be shared here…my coworkers have (unfortunately) been indoctrinated into horse life. Sadly, no one wants to come to the barn on sheath cleaning day. Thankfully I have a very understanding supervisor who allows me to maintain my equine lifestyle even if he doesn’t fully understand the mystique.

In our neighborhood, I’ve also got the moniker of horse person. One lady saw my license plate with the horse head on the back of my car, and a few days later stopped by with a saddle rack and some horse decor. She used to own horses, no longer does, and so she thought I would like the items. The wreath she gave me now hangs in the front porch.

My dogs have squirrels; I have horses. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

alison

P.S. Don’t forget to get your guess in for Ike’s weight. Contest closes on Wednesday, July 11th.