Hello friends! Is it not so great to be settling in to this new year? I for one am pretty happy that 2019 has come, and gone. That last one was a challenging year for me, so I decided that a goal I needed set for myself was to find my way back to riding, and being competitive in a way that felt good to me. Mainly because riding is my happy place, my healthiest place, and it helps me keep everything else in balance. With True North Stable deciding to do the winter competition circuit in Wellington, Florida this year, I knew this would mean some major work on my part. In an average year, I compete about 20 to 25 places, last year, I rode in four competitions. Typically at home I ride 4 times a week, and I was barely managing to get there twice a week, sometimes not even once a week. So, I spent the last two weeks of 2019 riding at the farm that we rented, which is such a dream, and a real convenience down here because the sheer volume of horses and people at the horse show make it next to impossible to accomplish anything on the show grounds. The house we are staying in is also on the same property as the farm, and while I make morning coffee, I see my horses our the kitchen window. That is a major bucket list, dream item for me from since I as about 9 years old, but it is also incredibly helpful as I work to return to a more confident, stronger place in my riding.
Those first two weeks of riding were a LOT. At one point, my finger tips hurt. I am not even kidding. I think I was gripping my tired, out of shape, insecure self to whatever I could; mane, saddle, neck, you name it. My horses have been fantastic, and spoiler alert – the reason why is because my trainer, Caitlyn kept them going while I was not. Just because I wasn’t showing, does not mean that they did not show. They stayed in a more relaxed, but focused groove last year which allowed me to accomplish what I needed to every time I came to ride. One of the privileges of a full service program is the care your horses can have while you cannot be there as much as you would like. Caitlyn treats my horses as if they are her own. She does this for every client, and I cannot stress enough how important this is when you are considering a trainer and program for you and your horse.
I am also so fortunate to be able to work with Andrea Wise who helps teach me how to stretch, move and work through the aches and pains that come with re-introducing an active lifestyle. Whether I am getting back to a place of activity or coming to it for the first time, taking care of my body’s recovery is a key component of how well (and how quickly) I can progress. We actually use an app called Ladder and I have to tell you, I am really loving learning how this app allows me to stay in touch with Andrea wherever I am, and allows me to keep working on this even when I can’t meet with her. We focus very often on the importance of proper movement, especially within joints – and this helps me immeasurably when I ride. It also just helps my walk better, feel better and want to move more which is the secret.
Ok, now back to the horse showing. This is the first year that True North Stables is spending all of circuit in Wellington. Typically we spend a month at WEF, and then make our way back up to Ocala for the HITS circuit. HITS is not pretty, but it has been familiar for some time. I love GItsies coffee, and my fellow amateurs competing are people I have really come to know, so it is kind of just familiar and comfortable. Not to mention considerably less of a financial investment. But, It has always been a dream of mine to spend an entire circuit in Wellington. To be honest the financial commitment freaked me out, and so did the overall vibe. It is just a wee bit bougie at times, know what I mean? I am 41, not in the best shape of my life, and when I am at horse shows I am not in to the whole “scene”. People speak often about how politically charged the competing can be. There are horses here in Wellington that cost more than my childhood home, and they are not the exception. There was always this veneer of perceived perfection whenever I thought about Wellington and I don’t really enjoy that feeling, but I also know that much of that was something I was allowing to take up space in mind. At the end of the day, I am here as an amateur equestrian- on earth to take care of my horses, give them an excellent life, work with them on some riding goals, and relish the privilege of competing and living with these beautiful creatures. How I look, what I spend, or even if I place is just no longer of consequence to me. I am here for me. I worked my butt off to get here, and I have decided that instead of being intimidated or feeling “not good enough” I am going to live every moment, learn every lesson and just be grateful for the moment that I am in. Imperfect as it may be.
I can tell you this, I am SO GLAD that I set this as my standard. The first two weeks were an absolute blast. Many of my close friends are actually down here, and I see them DAILY. It is such a treat. I see my horses every. single. day. Throughout the day, in to the evening because I can even participate in night check! The farm/home that we have rented grants me the chance to make coffee in the morning while looking at my horses as they poke their heads out of their windows. My inner 9 year old girl is giddy every morning. The classes I have ridden in have been large, had some rather technical courses, and my horses have been there for me every step of the way. It has felt immensely rewarding to allow myself these moments.
With all of that, I still walked in to the ring with Cassius and was pretty darned nervous. Not because of where we are, or how I look. But because I have had this silly goal for the last three years with this horse; prepare yourself because it is not some super cool goal, LOL. It is “to not miss a lead change for an entire division…” Cass and I have taken our time getting to know one another. He is a really challenging ride for me, because he takes a lot of leg, and just a lot of guidance. Caitlyn does an incredible job with him over 4 foot jumps and it always blows my mind! Guess what though?
I walked in to the ring here, and the first weekend I never missed a change! BOOM. Then, the second weekend I missed one. Instead of being mad or pissy, I actually was grateful because I learned something really valuable about my body position and it has since helped my progress even further on my journey with Cass.
And in the end, is that not EXACTLY what showing is supposed to be about? Testing the things that are challenging, in a competitive arena so that ultimately you are growing as a competitor? and human? That is exactly what this has always been about for me.
I have a few meetings with brides this morning, and am working the floor in Rosemont tonight before heading back to Wellington tomorrow to begin competing once more next week, and I am really happy, grateful and enjoying all of the things so far. Stay tuned, we all know that can change in a blink – but for me, for now? lots of this: 😍👌😁🦄💕