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Really Starting

Is anyone else giggling about the number of entries I’ve written which indicate surprise at how long it’s been since my last post, and how this time I’m really, really going to buckle down and get to the business of writing about training my horse? Well, here’s one more such post. Deal with it.

Turns out I know nothing about how to use WordPress, other than how to get to the page which says “write post” or some such thing, and how to click on “publish” so that my words are broadcast out for all of cyberspace to enjoy. I don’t know how to load a photo. Well, I sort of do, but that raised the issue of I don’t know where to find my photos on my computer with my lovely Windows 10 OS. I don’t know how to change the banner photos at the top of each page.

Come to think of it, this is sort of like training my horse. Let’s see . . . which post was it where I predicted we’d be able to canter within a few months . . . well hell, creating that link was easy enough. But I digress. Okay, so it’s only actually been 32 months since I made that prediction. That’s good, because I thought it had been three years. [NB: IT HAS NOT (yet) BEEN THREE YEARS.] Regardless, it’s fair to say that it has been an extended time period in which I have been predicting a successful third gear, if you will, with my former race horse.

Turns out I know nothing about how to get my horse to WALK, forget canter. Well, I sort of do, but that raised the issue of now that we can walk and have moved onto trot, will she ever be willing to simply walk, again.

We’ve come a long way. We really have. It’s gratifying to read my posts about how many bucks I had to sit through when we try to canter, since–I swear on all that is horsey–she’s no longer bucking! And it’s only been twelve MONTHS since that post! Luna and I can now canter without bucking. Thing is, we are now “not supposed” to canter. I’ve recently moved Luna to a fabulous Three Day Eventing barn and my trainer suggests that we get back to basics of, “Dude, first you need a relaxed walk. And trot. Of course she feels horrible in the right lead canter. She can’t even trot!”

Which leads me to a stark moment of Everything I Need to Know I Learned with My Horse (we’ll call these “EINKILMH”. This is a good name, because it sounds like another rung along the ladder of classical dressage training. First der ist Losgelassenheit! Den Takt! Den Anlehnung! Do nicht forget Einkilmh!! I got the Einkilmh. Not so sure about the others.)

So my stark moment of Einkilmh occurred when I happened to roll into the training yard exactly 35 seconds after my trainer had finished her third ever ride on my horse, which she did while I was out of town, and she hadn’t yet had a chance to vent about it to anyone else. This is what I tell myself, because why else would she have to begin our “Welcome Back” conversation with, “OH MY GOD!!! Your horse is A NUT!” Surely if she had had a chance to vent, catch her breath, change her boots, get a drink of water–or maybe wine–she would instead have started our conversation with the more accurate, “Awwwww. I WUV your horsie. She is just the best. So much potential.” And then she and I would have “been in agreement” as the modern parlance goes.

But since we weren’t in agreement, I experienced Einkilmh. Gabby expounded for a few minutes on my horse’s lack of leg aids. Of rein aids. Of mental awareness regarding the requirements of her new job (for example, to walk). And I furrowed my brow and stiffened my neck and eventually broke in with, “Whoa whoa whoa. (Ironically, this happens to be what I have been saying to Luna for three years now.) Hang on a minute. You are not being offensive. But I am feeling very defensive. I’m really insecure about this and I need to not feel insecure: This is my baby you are talking about and WE HAVE COME SO FAR!!”

Gabby was great. She listened. She gave me a reassuring snort and said, “Pshaw. Don’t be insecure. Are you a horse trainer?”

“Well, er, ah–no. But I want to be! I mean maybe not a horse trainer by profession, but I want to know how to train my horse!!” I took a breath. “It’s just that I’m really wary of riding under a trainer and ending up under their thumb. I don’t want to be in the position of you’re always right and I’m always wrong. Of your way or the highway.”

And it was a good conversation. “How are you possibly going to learn how to train your horse without making mistakes? And don’t worry. You are not going to ruin your horse. They don’t care if you make mistakes.”

The Einkilmh is that I DO care if I make mistakes. I hate making mistakes. I’m a perfectionist. Which drives me nuts. Being a perfectionist makes me defensive about a lot of things, not just my beloved horse. Being a perfectionist made me defensive not necessarily about my horse, in fact, but about the job I had done training my horse.

So thank you, horse journey. You gave me a moment of seeing how being a perfectionist can get in the way of enjoying the things I truly love, like training my horse. Or even writing this blog. The mistakes are going to be okay, because this journey we’re on is all about potential. Just wait and see: it might even be less than a year before my next post.

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