So it has been a REALLY long time since I updated this blog. I honestly don’t have an excuse for this laziness, but a couple of events have been key in keeping me away.
About a week after my last post my trainer was rushed to the hospital. As much as I don’t want to admit it this event shook up my world more than I care to admit. My trainer, Dorothy, has been a major part of my life since I was 18. The thought, or idea that she wouldn’t or might not ever be there again seemed unfathomable. Aside from my parents she’s been my biggest cheerleader, constantly encouraging me to go after my most impossible dreams. She’s been a rock in my riding career, and without her it was hard to find my footing for a while. Thankfully Dorothy has been steadily recovering for the past 3 weeks and is expected to come home soon. Fingers crossed everything will go as it’s supposed to.
I was able to get through this in most part thanks to the strong support group I have. My riding buddies are the BEST. I don’t know if I’ve ever met nicer or more supportive girls, and I consider myself very lucky to have all of them in my life.
The other thing that kept me from updating was Achates’s soundness. A little after Dorothy was hospitalized he began favoring his left hind leg. His ankle became stocked up and there was a significant amount of swelling in his hock area and above. I cannot even begin to explain exactly how much this stressed me out. Thinking straight was not coming to me easily. And as anyone who works with horses would know they become like your children and you worry, worry, worry about every little thing. As it turns out Achates had an abscess coming through, once it did the swelling went down gradually, and he has been sound since.
Getting back into the training mentality I’m ashamed to admit was kind of hard for me. I really had to find a way to focus. So I decided to approach it step by step and work myself back into it. Instead of thinking of where we were before the abscess I focused on what we could accomplish in the present. Thinking like this took a lot of the mental pressure off of me and slowly everything fell back into place.
Today, after being back in training for a week Achates managed to amaze me.
We have been working on getting him to move more freely forward and push into the contact. He has been improving gradually, but today he kind of rocket launched himself to the next level. He came round and gave easily to the contact without losing any of his forward momentum. Instead of bracing against my hands he developed more of a self carriage and stayed light. He also maintained this frame without being asked, and it felt GREAT.
I guess what made today special was that I felt as if my riding has actually improved over the past couple of months. For the first time in a long time I felt as if I was actually helping and supporting Achates in the way that he needed it instead of getting in his way. I feel like my timing is getting better and I’m becoming more conscious of the execution of my aids. I think mentally I’m more together and focused when I ride and that has yielded even more improvement than I could have hoped for.
Before I wrap up this post I have to thank two very special people, my friends H and S. S for the wonderful pictures on this post, for being my very first riding buddy and dealing with me and my horse through our many ups and downs. H who has been a constant source of positivity and encouragement over the past month. Thank you so much for picking me up when I’m down. I’m sure this blog would have been left to collect dust and cobwebs without you guys.
This past month for me has been an exercise in reflection. Every time I hit a road block or get stumped I just think about where I started. That when I got Achates he couldn’t walk in a straight line. That I couldn’t keep my balance or temper under control. And that I didn’t have any expectations except failure. Now I have expectations, goals that I can’t wait to pursue, and a wonderful horse who is a fantastic mirror of all the hard work that I’ve put into him. All I can think now is that, as cheesy as it sounds, the possibilities are limitless and I can’t wait to explore every single one of them. Success or failure I will always look back and proud of where I’ve come from and where I’m going.