Outside people cannot understand it. Running out of the office to get to the barn, ride until late nights, facing the ice cold, summer heat, autumn rain, fog, snow. No matter how tough the weather conditions are, driving to the barn is not just a spare time activity. It is not just a way to relax after a day of hard work. To reduce stress. It is not like a nice workout, often seen as easy because you “just sit on that horse”. It is not just snuggling with something bigger than a dog. My horse is not a pet, he is my sports buddy. We are not just snuggling and hand walk and riding bareback. We do real work: train him to build the muscles to stand the ever increasing movements, training me to become a better supporter, better communicator. He has to his jobs and I have to do mine. To get a step closer to harmony every time we ride.
It is not always petting and feeding him treats, we have struggles, we have misunderstandings, we have drawbacks, we share success. It is never boring, never the same. There are hundreds of things we can still work on in our amateur’s live, so many places we would love to see. Getting up on weekends JUST to show a horse which will never make it to the Olympics, not earning any money but investing even more money instead. Outside people cannot understand. Trusting your horse when you enter the arena, feeling that he does his best to understand your imprecise aids as you are nervous in the ring. Riding down the centerline, waiting for the judges’ scores. Scores that so often are below expectations yet so many times surprising. Doing that for three days in a row, just for getting back home late on Sundays. Not enough time for other things than that during show season. Only little housework, not too many friends, difficult relationships.
And then there is off season. And you still prefer working with your horse instead of going out, going on vacation, spending time in the mall. Outside people cannot understand that working with a horse is also working on your own personality. My horse assists me in my development, shows my strengths and weaknesses. Learning to cope with fear, with failure, with anxiety. Learning how small moves, small gestures make the difference. Not being to verbally tell you what he feels, I have to read him. And I am still learning to do so. Looking at him, asking myself the question what he feels like, wondering if he had a good day. Outside people cannot understand the bond that is between us after all those years, after all the ups and downs, from breaking to now schooling flying changes. He is a good boy, he is eager to learn, trying hard to become the dressage pony I can imagine him to be. Asking my horse to walk the way with me, not just follow but be right at my side, outside people cannot understand. He is more than a pet, he is my friend, teacher, my partner, my mirror, my source of inspiration. Sounds over the top? I do not care – I will continue to run from the office to the barn, get up at 4 a.m. on Saturday just to ride that test, snuggle with him in between, and learn from him. Because my horse is my life and I chose to live and love it.
Re-published with kind permission from Dressage Hafl|Blog
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