The job has consumed my life. Too many evenings and weekends sacrificed over the last couple of years. The few that were not were used for catching up – either on chores or rest. Couple that with the longest, wettest rainy season in many, many years, and I find myself once again going into summer far behind where I’d hoped I would be with the horses. Four years into this journey, and I’m still not riding. In the quiet moments the frustration at this state of affairs can be overwhelming – but in the moments I have stolen to be with the horses, I find the frustration gives way to a completely different emotion.
The journey this past four years has at times seemed to be going nowhere. Measured against the vision I had at the beginning, it can seem like an abject failure to this point. The one trained horse, Nash, retired due to physical infirmities. Tally, my next hope, still not under saddle due to my mistake in whom I chose to start her – and the subsequent prolonged recovery. Coffee has made much improvement, but still fits into the green category. I’ll admit to thoughts of giving up many times along this journey. As Spring marched on this year those thoughts were coming back in strong waves.
As the year progressed I began to claw back my time from the job – first weekends, then most evenings. Slowly my time in the barn has been getting more regular. Progress is still plodding, with so many to train and so little time. However, as in the past, the horses themselves have a way of putting things in perspective. Each interaction proves to me that progress has been made, even if not on a human-imagined schedule.
- Tally, once incapable of standing quietly for grooming, now stands relaxed and calm
- Roxie, who previously would fling her head around during bridling now quietly reaches for the bit on her own
- Coffee has forever changed from the jogging, shuffling Western pony to a free-moving English horse with a springy, swinging trot and a rocking horse canter
- Tally, once hyper-reactive, quietly maintains a trot as a rattling truck and trailer speed by on the nearby road
- Roxie, once explosive when lunging fully tacked can now lunge politely even on her freshest day
- Noble picks up his feet by voice command, ending the former wrestling match to pick out his feet
- Mom now rides Coffee on a regular basis, on her own, mutual confidence and trust continuing to grow
I could go on with the thousand little things I notice when I’m with the horses. I may go out to the barn feeling like a failure for not having made it further with our little herd, but it’s not long before they bring me back around. They have no ambition but to have a peaceful, comfortable life surrounded by friends. When viewed on that scale, we have been successful. Tally, once alarming to be around, has become the calm matron of the barn. All of the rest have overcome beginnings that made them defensive or shut-down, but now let their individual personalities shine. As I think of where each horse started, and where they are now, I realize there is much to be proud of.
So, I will continue to plod down this road with our little herd, striving to enjoy the little gains and worrying less about human-biased ideas of success. I will continue to share my observations and experiences here, in the hope that they resonate with others and spark conversation. In the end, it’s about giving those in our care the happiest lives we can provide.
Afterward: When I originally wrote this post, it was early in the Summer and I had yet to get back in the saddle. I delayed posting, as I was not sure if I would have the time or inspiration to continue this blog. However, since then I have been on both Coffee and Roxie several times. I have also been slowly reclaiming more time from work, updating the website, and drafting several posts for the future. Hope rises! Thank you to those who have stuck around; and welcome to those who have just started to follow! I look forward to future conversations.
Be good to your horses!