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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Home is where your horse is...

I apologize for the gap between my last post and this one... Things have been hectic around here lately, with a somewhat impromptu 10-day road trip to Florida to cap off what has been a CRAZY summer, starting classes again, a sad attempt at having a social life and the everyday pandemonium that is my life. With the way this summer has gone (I won't go into details, but let's just say it wasn't exactly what I had planned) I have had very little time for my favorite redhead--or any of my other four-legged friends, for that matter--and I've been feeling very uninspired and even a little cantankerous at times with the way things have played out over the past few months. I feel like I didn't reach any the goals I had set, and even backslid in some ways.

For example, Forrest's dressage was fabulous in June and now is a sight to behold. At the beginning of the summer he was jumping beautifully and now he is literally dragging me to the fences and leaping over tiny cross rails like they're maximum height four-star corners. My other horses all have similar stories... Edna was schooling piaffes and pirouettes at the beginning of the summer, and she has barely been ridden in a month because of a hoof abscess. Stormy has been plagued with soundness issues (per usual) and Hercules also had hoof problems... Even the super-sound wonder pony, Halo, was like riding a roller coaster this summer with all the ups and downs in her training. If it weren't for Linda Heiny, the always entertaining and inspiring blogs from Sinead Halpin (little girl, big chestnut horse... you can see why I love her) from Chronicle of the Horse--and, of course, my adorable redheaded stepchild's crazy awesome jumping form--I would be curled in a ball in the corner of the tack room, crying and rocking back and forth.

So, now that the whining is over, on to the upswing!

I truly believe that life is like a huge spinning wheel... It goes up, up, up, and then it rolls down. Then it goes up again... You get the idea. 

While in Florida, I re-read one of my all-time favorite books, In Service to the Horse, and was reminded of why I do what I do, day in and day out. The thing about the sport that I choose to do is that there are always going to be ups and downs, but what it comes down to at the end of the day is the partnership you have with your equine counterpart. On the way home from my week at our family's condo on Siesta Key, I drug my mother, sister and boyfriend (who loves horses, but knows next to nothing about them) through Ocala. It was as I was driving down the old familiar back roads of this place that I called home less than a year ago that I came to the realization that this was where I wanted to be, and what I wanted to do, no matter how hard it was or how long it took to get there.

I get homesick for Ocala on a daily basis, which I'm sure my friends and family get tired of hearing me say. I miss living in a town where everyone lives and breathes horses, where they cherish this awesome animal and have so much respect for the equestrian world. But, when I walked out to the barn upon arriving back home in Indiana and Forrest and Hercules came galloping up to the paddock gate to greet me, this ultra-cliche phrase came to my mind...

"Home is where your horse is."

Anyone who has ever been exposed to horse culture at all has, I'm sure, heard or seen this phrase a hundred times. But, like most cliches, it is so true. As much as I would so much rather be in Aiken, or Middleburg, or Ocala, I belong here with my horses. And, at the end of the day, my life isn't about a summer that should've been spent competing when it was in fact spent caring for my injured mother, or the fact that Forrest just can't seem to sit back on his hindquarters in the right lead canter, or that I haven't had a proper jump school in months... It's about me and Forrest on this road together, no matter how long and winding it seems.

So for now we're just going to enjoy ourselves, care less about results and more about the experience we gain getting there. We're just going to sit back, relax, and enjoy watching Burghley via the Internet this weekend.


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