What you may not know is that I never competed, or showed, or did anything particular when it came to riding horses. Well, once I did place in an ETI Competition (Equestrian Trails Incorporated, or International, or something - some trail horse thingie), but that's just because I showed up to ride my friend's horses, and that's where she was that weekend. It was completely on accident.)
My lack of formal training and focus was due to three factors, primarily:
- Lack of competitive drive: Actually, this one's a bit of a misnomer. I do have a competitive drive. In fact, I have a little bit too much of a competitive drive. When I used to work with the local junior high church group, I once pushed a 7th grader off the stage in the middle of a "break the ice" social game because HE NEEDED TO GET OFF THE STAGE IN ORDER FOR OUR TEAM TO WIN, AND HE WASN'T PAYING ATTENTION, AND THE OTHER TEAM WAS ABOUT TO WIN, AND MY TEAM WAS GOING TO LOSE!
It wasn't exactly my best moment.
- On the day we bought my first horse, Catarina, the unscrupulous horse trader who sold her to us asked, "So, what are you going to use her for?"
"Oh, I'm just going to ride her. I'm not going to actually show, or anything."
The trader rolled his eyes at me. "Mark my words," he said to my mother. "In six months she's going to be complaining. 'I need matching tack, and a show outfit, and'...." He laughed.
I did not laugh with him. "No, I don't think that's gong to happen to me. I just want to ride."
He rolled his eyes at me. "That's what they all say," he said, turning to nod at my mom. "You mark my words - it'll be within six months."
Hey, horse trader dude? I have two things to say to you - Number one, thanks for lying to us about Catarina's age as well as selling us a lame horse. You suck. I can't believe the vet backed you up. How much were you paying him? You guys both really, really suck.
Number two, I'm 31 years old, and I still haven't gone down that road, so THERE. Hah. I guess I sure showed you.
- Money. That's honestly the biggest reason. Showing and competing costs money, and I'm still daydreaming about the day I can take regular lessons. Heck, as you all know, at this point I'm still daydreaming about the day I can have a horse again. Would anyone like to buy a slightly used kidney?
Anyways, despite the competitiveness in my blood - or maybe because of it - I've just never felt the need to compete with horses. I think it's because horses are kind of my happy spot - they bring me peace, and I worry that if I bring competition into the mix, it might ruin that for me.
Anyways, onto the point of this post.
I think I really like endurance.
I will say that it's tough to say "I love endurance!" when my longest ride was only about 15 miles. It feels dishonest, somehow, like I haven't earned the right to say it - kind of like how I feel I'm not allowed to go on and on about how much I love Oregon until I've survived at least two winters here.
There's something about the start of an endurance ride that I could really see myself being a part of. There's a friendly excitement to the chilly morning air- the horses are jigging, and the riders are a little tense.
When they signal the start, it's both understated and magical. The front riders start out - all lean muscled and long-trotting or cantering - heads high and slightly braced against the bit with the excitement of the moment, and it's a beautiful sight. There's a poetry to be found in the way the horses move, and the way the riders move with them - even when they're battling, you can see the miles they've spent together in the way they respond with each other.
The crowd cheers, but quietly - they're horse people, too.
I may, or may not have gotten goosebumps as I did my own quiet cheering.
Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to learning more about this sport..... which reminds me:
Aarene from HaikuFarm has finally released the paper version of her book:
The book is good - like, really good.
I don't know if it was the plethora of pretty horse pictures, or the readability of writing, or what - but it held my attention like a fiction book, which is saying something.
I have the attention span of a gnat, and I pretty much only read fiction books.
I wish that weren't true, because at the rate I read books I would be the smartest person alive if I liked non-fiction, but it is what it is.
I love horses, but I don't usually love horse books - especially non-fiction books.... but I really loved this book. I bought it for myself, and I'm going to buy extras as presents for the horse people in my life.
I learned a lot. Seriously, someone out there needs to hire Aarene to write how-to manuals, because it was down-to-earth and easy to read, but it actually contained a lot of information. That's actually harder to do than you may think.
It's also pretty funny. I may have laughed out loud once or twice.
The only part that wasn't funny is when I was reading along, laughing at the Bad Idea fairy and all of her, well, bad ideas.... and one of them was her deciding not to print out directions to the ride ahead of time, because she can just rely on her smartphone's GPS, right?
Well, if you can't be an example, be a warning, right?
Anyways, I'm too late to recommend it for Christmas (am I the only person who hasn't bought a single Christmas present yet?), but some of you guys out there will probably get a gift card or two ias gifts... and if you do, I heartily recommend this book.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go daydream about horses.
This is my latest heartthrob:
Three years old, 16 hands, and a Standardbred, so he'll probably be even taller when he's done maturing.
Doesn't he just look strangely lopsided without me on his back?