Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Verklempt again on the red horse
Boone and I arrived at our first horse this past Saturday calm and collected. I'm not one to get nervous about performing or doing things in public, but I was anxious to see the arena and get on Boone to exercise him.
All went well. He warmed up calmly, I was calm, the atmosphere was casual and non pretentious. There were all levels of riders and all ages. I was told to ignore the big warm bloods and remember that a retired cow pony can do everything they can do. But I knew that would never bother me.
I was just so pleased to be there, and feeling like I could be there.
A year ago you'd NEVER convince me I'd be in a horse show with Boone, especially a Dressage show. Boone politely tolerated all the mane braiding [I refused to cut Boone's mane, much to the chagrin of my teacher, but I stood my ground] and fancy tail spray over the past weeks to fluff up his tail which he had stepped on about a month ago. He looked pretty cute in his white show pad.
So we entered the arena for our first test - which lasts all of 5 minutes - and the bell rang, and we began the patterns. It felt really good. I knew I was riding well- or riding to my potential at this moment - and that's all I wanted to do going into this. I knew if I rode well, Boone would follow. And he did. And I was smiling! I was so pleased and happy after that test, I knew we'd done our best and that is so wonderful a feeling. If you could have seen us a year ago....and then Saturday...it makes me verklempt.
While I waited for my second test, my teacher brought me my scores. 65.5% which we were both pleased with. And then I got a blue ribbon, and a gift basket! I never win anything, and to get the blue on my fist rinky dink show....it was so...FUN. I was so proud of Boone too, so happy for him and just so in love with him, and us.
I did well in my second test too and tied for first. But again, I was just so pleased that we did it together and rode our best at this moment. We still have so much to learn together and improve on.
This has been a tough year in many ways - losing my mother, saying good bye to old animal friends and learning to reshape my life without those characters in it. Working with Boone on a consistent basis and improving inch by inch has saved me from daily depression. It has been like any project - bumps, confusion at points, frustrated it wasn't going fast enough at times - but when we were both in the zone, like we were on Saturday, it was a beautiful road to be on together.
As I rode home that day, that satisfied feeling was sitting there with each mile I drove. I began to think of the many times in life I'd challenged myself to try new things - and how each challenge brought me new friends, new places, new inspirations, new lessons, new confidence. I'd always been hesitant to show, it seemed so opposite of my personality. I'm unpretentious and I visualized the horse shows as full of snobbery and wealthy people with time to train with their horse and still have time to workout themselves so their breeches looked nice and firm on them. But it really didn't pan out that way. I'm sure there are shows like that but I doubt I'll be in that crowd in the near future, if ever. Everyone I encountered was really supportive and kind, excited for the middle aged newcomer with her cow pony. There was this sweet little 8 year old - a terrific rider - and her 20 year old horse who got a blue ribbon in her class. When they brought me mine, she came running up to me and was so excited for me. Another woman had a very beautiful big mare, warm blood, full of energy and a bit hard for her to handle. She didn't do well her first test, but the second one, she improved and we all greeted her with encouragement.
Stereotyping could have kept me from going to the show. By going, my horse and I gained even more confidence together, from the much longer trailer haul to riding in a new place with lots going on. It inspired me to want to continue on and do even better next time. And as importantly, Boone had fun. He knew what was going on and liked it. No spooking, no jitters, but he wasn't bored either.
My proudest moment was when I looked at my test scores and notes from the judges and one said - "You two are a perfect match".