Horsing Around

Three things I can't live without: reading, writing, and riding. I love reading and writing, but nothing compares to leaning against a horse’s warm, fuzzy body, in their dimly lit stall, smelling the sweet hay; my heaven on earth. Although when I’m there, I’m not just relaxing, I’m also working, but at the same time, it’s not a chore. The horses can’t judge me, so the barn is a safe place of understanding. I know that they could very easily hurt me, riding is the only sport were the 1200 pound equipment has a mind of its own and could effortlessly turn on you, but they also understand that I could just as easily hurt them, so we have a mutual agreement of peace between the both of us; a balance. 

Met these rascals at a show this weekend. We parked right next to their fence and I could tell instantly that they were looking for food.
(I'm proud of my photography skills – very Amanda Brooks and English countryside.)

Hunter green is my number one, go-to color for horses, especially chestnuts.

Burgundy is my number two. (Perfect for the holidays!)

Photo credits – and all of my horsey opportunities – go to Mom. This is me whizzing past for a lesson.

 Horses naturally seek rhythm and reliability, whether that’s having rhythmic brushstrokes when grooming on foot, or counting strides before jumping a fence in the saddle. Sitting quietly to their assuring hoof beats, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4. It cleanses my mind because when you’re out riding, you can only focus on what you’re doing right then and there; every test, quiz, argument, or anything else even slightly displeasing to think about, it all disappears and you’re in a whole different world of just you and your horse. 

I think that all humans seek, and need, balance in their lives. Riding is all about balance.

Horseback riding is a subtle way to show your strength, both physically and mentally. It takes a lot of physical strength to make an animal, ten times your size, do what you want it to, whether that’s to jump over a fence, point it’s toes, run around a barrel, or pull a cart. You also have to be mentally confident because if you’re not, then the horse will sense that and misbehave. In the arena or on the trails, there is a nonverbal communication between the horse and the rider. The rider can communicate by a squeeze or kick of their heels, gentle pressure on the reins, and their seat. 

The horse can respond back with a swish of their tail, a chomp at the bit, or a flick of their ears in a particular direction. The horse’s duty is to respond to the rider, if they choose not to respond then it is almost certain that they will receive a sharp smack with a crop, which most horses have learned to expect. As a rider, it’s our duty to pay attention to these signs to prevent any hazards for the both of us, such as a spook, refusal, or buck that could put both of us in danger. 

I've gotten the full range of ribbons – ups and downs. I think I once heard a quote that went something like this: "Don't get caught up on the rides that don't earn ribbons, cherish the ones that should have, and work hard to make all of them deserve ribbons."

Riding, and life, is about being proud of your achievements and learning from your mistakes. Practice makes perfect if you can make something out of your errors.

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