Last night, Frank and I did something that absolutely terrifies me. Practice ride. Not have a lesson, not have coaching, but ride. In these moments, I am a deer in the headlights, a psychologists worst nightmare. I freeze. I tense. I set myself, and more importantly, Frank, up for failure.
(Side note: We were able to successfully school last night with some minor coaching to get the headlight glare out of my eyes)
Nope. We have no time for those shenanigans. We have goals to achieve and dreams to chase.
On my way to work this morning, I was contemplating this very thing. I had several revelations. If we don’t dedicate ourselves to practice sessions, how will we continue to improve? How will I conquer my deer in the headlights pose…or (at least) make Frank less aware of it? How will we continue to improve our relationship? How will we continue to ease our overall anxieties, just about life?
The answer to all of those: We won’t. Or rather, we will, but at a much slower pace. I was complimented, a few nights ago, that for only making it out twice a week for lessons, I am doing a good job of maintaining the skills learned, thus picking up right where we left off. That’s great and I was thrilled to hear that. I, and Frank (I hope) want to progress at a greater rate. We want to really go somewhere.
As a young rider, obviously, I dreamed of going to the Olympics. Clearly, that isn’t going to happen. Maybe we can get the Miss Congeniality award though? The “Great Effort completed with grace, humor and triumph” award…I would actually be pleased with that. I don’t want to accomplish something for myself necessarily, though I am an important part of the equation, but more for Frank. To show that this little creature, that has a truckload of baggage, insecurities and anxieties can go on to achieve really remarkable things. I think somewhere in this beautiful journey, anyone can relate to our story…not just horse people. To everyday folks with their own insecurities, doubts and fears.
Any future accomplishments or awards we get, will be Frank’s. Dedicated to him, his triumphs, his ability to persevere despite the often uphill battle. I am the co-pilot, lucky enough to land him as my partner in this journey. My days begin and end with asking, “How can I improve? How can I make life better for Frank?”. It is a constant thought. My grown up Christmas list also largely reflects this thought process.
I regularly keep clips of of Charlotte, George, Laura, Nicholson…all great riders from various disciplines, on rotation while I work. So, at least if I’m not able to watch I can absorb some of the knowledge. Knowledge is power. Learning is power. I can then put that knowledge into action and embrace my inner Charlotte, George, Laura, Nicholson.
If we had videos of Frank’s first ride, and then put it next to now, I don’t know if anyone would believe it. There are just pictures though (Thank you Jen and Peg for always having the camera ready!), and the progress is apparent. His progress is a true testament to his indomitable spirit and desire to achieve. I truly believe, if he didn’t want to be a good horse, he simply wouldn’t be. He’s willing and a thoughtful horse (though sometimes his thinking is more “Not Today” then “Sure Mom!”) and that is as important as anything. It shows the work of the village behind him and cheering for him. It’s a story that I look forward to sharing with my grand kids one day.
With the announcement of the 2019 and 2020 American Eventing Championships coming to the Kentucky Horse Park, our goals are becoming more and more clear. My prior event horse was Chloe. A game but stout 16hh QH/Percheron mare. She’s a typical mare and her world revolves around food. She is also affectionately known as Chloepotamus…a distant relative of everyone’s favorite Fiona. Chloe was an amazing event horse. I don’t know if I will get another one of her, but Frank is at least better in the dressage department. Chloe and I often received the same comment “Cute and Capable” on dressage tests. I was always pleased with that because I knew that she would go out and just shred the competition over cross-country. Then, if my demons stayed under wraps, she would bring her A game to stadium. I think Frank could be, has the potential to be, the whole package in the eventing world. I look forward to that…navigating this incredible horse to several accomplishments. So, one day at a time we will work to continue to conquer our inner demons and showcase our outer ambition, ability to achieve and overcome. At the end of the day, Frank has heart, and I can’t ask him for anything else.