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Have Heart & Be Brave

Have Heart & Be Brave

I just don’t have the heart for this.

The first few times I jumped, it was not a pretty thing. Here’s my first (very tiny) oxer:

My calves were weak, my elbows were locked, and my gut was twisted with fear. Whenever I jumped, I had to talk myself into every crossrail (don’t all adult amateurs have to talk themselves into doing things that our well-meaning brains like to deem “Bad Ideas”?) and oftentimes it was only my trainer’s demand that I “do it anyways” that pushed me to the other side of the fence.

I wish I was more brave.

When I was younger, I was braveor maybe I was just stupidly optimistic; sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. I believed that the Universe had blessed me and that my karma was unshakably skewed towards happiness and joy. The world watched over me like a sheepdog might watch over a lamb fumbling through its first steps, while I meandered through life with a stalwart faith that things would always work out.

Me attempting to have faith that things will work out.

As an adult, I still believe that the stars will align themselves for me and that my cosmic scale will always tip more towards the good than the bad, but I also recognize that sometimes the Universe works in unorthodox ways. It breaks bones so that they can grow back stronger. It puts you in a position to make mistakes so that you can learn from them. It gives you a horse that teaches you hubris and then it finds you another horse that builds you back up. It opens doors and it closes them, brings you opportunities that turn out well and opportunities that make you question where you’re headed in the greater scheme of things.

Maybe I’m not cut out to jump.

But the more I learn about myself, the easier it is to recognize moments where the Universe’s plan is unfolding. When I went to look at Ragland, I saw the strings of fate knitting themselves together. I’ve learned that when opportunities come, you must seize them. I didn’t know if I was ready, but I knew I was sick of being something fragile and afraid. It was time to expect more from myself. It was time to think less with my brain, which is an anxious and self-sabotaging thing, and more with my heart.

I went with cash in hand, because I already knew what path I’d be walking next.

Last year when the words for a blog started to come to me unbidden, I called myself “Undaunted”—partially as a humorless joke about my own sense of bravery and partially as a prayer for the future. I went into my ownership of Ezhno with formless dreams of finding my confidence again—dreams that came into fruition thanks to patient trainers and an even more patient Paint gelding.

But now my dreams aren’t abstract, amorphous thoughts about strength and wisdom and courage. That chapter of my life is closing, and as I start to go through the process of drawing up the paperwork for Ezhno’s eventual sale, I can see my dreams congealing into a recognizable form. They’re shaped like water features and coffins and halting on X. They’re tangible things that can be measured in meters and seconds and percentages. They’ve got a rhythm to them—the lofty beats of a jump-worthy canter and the count down of three, two, one, HAVE A GREAT RIDE.

That’s not to say that my fear is gone entirelyUndaunted I am not. There are still times where my mind plays tricks on me, where it tries to convince me that Bad Things are Bound to Happen.

What’s the worst that can happen? I fall off and die.

A few seconds into my first ride on Raglan after I bought him. Secretly very nervous.

But I’m starting to learn that riding is a two heart sport and the best way to combat those thoughts (and my irrational fear of things like oxers) is to make the conscious decision to trust my horse to always put his heart on the line for me. Despite being large and inherently dangerous, these creatures are filled with an undeniable good willI truly believe that they do their best to work with us and keep us safe.

I can’t wait to develop a connection with Raglan and to get into my groove over fences, and I hope you enjoy following a chronicle of our adventures here on the blog (or on Instagram or Facebook)!

Have heart and be brave, fellow equestrians!

Lexi the Giant Project Horse

Lexi the Giant Project Horse

Meet Lexi! Lexi is a young (five or six year old?) APHA mare. She originally came to the SEC for training with the Ready to Ride program, but she was pulled out of training a month or two ago due to her owner having unforeseen financial problems. She’s also the daughter of former APHA broodmare Dot Your Eye (AKA “Ivy”), one of the Ready to Ride lesson horses!

“Giant Horse” | “Sexy Lexi” | “Lexisaurus Rex”

Lexi is big. The Trainer guesses she measures in around 16.2 hands high and she’s built like a tank. She’s also relatively green, but very straightforward and nonplussed by things that would have most inexperienced horses heading for the hills. She’s got sass in her, but she’s the type of mare that, despite only knowing the basics, reacts calmly and efficiently when, say, your bridle suddenly breaks in the middle of your fourth ride on her (seriously, that happened).

Now that it’s been confirmed that Ezhno’s out of commission for the next few months, Trainer A offered Lexi up as my new day to day mount. She needs hours put on her, I need something to ride… it was a match made in heaven (minus the size differenceor maybe because of it? 😛 ). I took a lesson on her with Trainer M on Wednesday to study up on where she is with her training, and now she’s my go to steed on days where I don’t have lessons with the Trainer scheduled.

I’d say that Lexi is more green than Ezhno was when I got him. We’re working on walk/trot basics right now during our rides. In particular we’re focusing on steering and the idea of yielding when I put my leg on her. She’s got a bad case of the green horse wobbles and she tends to test the rider’s leg, which can cause her steering to go out entirely if it’s not addressed quickly enough. If my legs are the walls of a hallway, she’s a ping pong ball bouncing back and forth between them, LOL.

I want to get Lexi’s walk/trot down pat before we go back into a lesson with the Trainer to tackle her canter, so I suspect we’ll spend the next couple of weeks really hammering home the basicscircles, figure 8’s, serpentine patterns, and lots and lots of transitions. Totally my jam. 😀

This One is Mine: Ezhno’s (Late) Introduction

This One is Mine: Ezhno’s (Late) Introduction

I figured Ez was about due an introduction of his own, so here it goes:

ezbabypictureEzhno (also known as JMJ Rockin Champagne) is a 15.2hh APHA amber champagne tobiano palomino gelding. He was born on May 29th, 2009 and I bought him on September 12th, 2016. I found him on Dream Horse, went to see him after a full day of showing, decided he wasn’t the one, thought about it for three weeks, and then purchased him while I was on a trip to Las Vegas for my 21st birthday. I picked him up a few hours after my plane landed and started riding him the next day.

Before I purchased him, Ezhno was a trail horse/pasture puff. He’d had five months off and was just being returned to grownupezworkhe’d only had three rides on him when the Trainer and I came to see him. He was out of shape and green in the arena, not to mention a scuffed up from being the low man on the totem pole out in the field. His last rider was his owner’s timid twelve year old daughter, who was afraid to pick a fight with him about his lazy tendencies, so they wanted to sell him so they could buy a finished horse for her.

His owner’s sister was bringing him back into work. She was riding Ezhno in a training contraption that ran from his nose lungetheezhnoband down to his girth, so the first thing we had to do (besides chopping off the monstrosity of a mane he was sporting) was give him a crash course on how to balance without a head setter to brace off of. On top of that, he didn’t move away from pressure, he lagged behind my leg, he couldn’t get his left lead, his turns on the haunches/forehand and his sidepassing were nonexistent, and he mistook dragging his nose in the dirt for lifting through his top line… he was a mess!

ezhnoinhisnewcoatBut despite his lack of experience, I made the decision to purchase Ezhno because of his personality. He subtly tests boundaries on the ground and he can be a bully under saddle (he seems to think that because I’m small, I’ll be just as easy to intimidate as his last ridernice try, buddy), but his good qualities are overwhelming: he’s patient in the cross ties, he waits while I wiggle my way up onto him whenever we ride bareback, and even when he’s very very angry (like, for example, if we’re fighting over his lateral work), there’s never a moment meandezhnotogetherawesomewhere I feel nervous or unsafe when I’m on him. Plus I’m a sucker for an opinionated tail-swisher; I love to dig some sort of work ethic out of a “lazy” horse.

I put Ezhno into training with Ready to Ride for the month of October so that Trainer-M and Trainer-A could work their magic on him (and make life a little easier for me). He’s come along quickly since his first training session, and on October 17th, 2016, I officially took him over his inaugural cross rail. We attended our first schooling show together in November (and another in December), and we do two lessons a week so that I can supplement ezhnoinfieldcloudyday-2his training when I ride without my instructor.

Ezhno’s favorite thing is to be outside; after a particularly hard ride, he likes to walk around the track or go through some of the obstacles out on the trail/cross country course. He loves turnoutAKA Outside Timeand when we’re alone in the arena he gets worried when other horses go by, like he thinks they’re leaving on a trail ride without him! He’s great to take on the trails because he’s not afraid of many things, and when he is they’re never what you expect him to be afraid oflike a Shetland Pony in brightly colored tack or turning around in the wash rack.

Owning him is the best journey I’ve undertaken in my life!



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