Thursday, March 05, 2009

|| "Snuffy is the best horse" ||

I know it has been a long, long time since I have visited the Blog, but recently I feel like so many things have changed in my life that I feel inspired....maybe required to talk about it.

Sometimes change feels uncomfortable and it creates a lot of doubt in one's path to happiness, success, and general well-being. I have always been thankful (or tried to be) to those people, places, animals and experiences which have helped me make change comfy, warm, and inviting...welcome in my life.

One of the things that I do that hasn't changed since September 2005 is give riding lessons. Yes, horses and students come and go, but this endeavor lately has really helped me feel strong for the changes in my life that feel less certain, less profitable both in spirit and in currency.

For one, I still feel like I am a beginner--a beginner rider, a beginner teacher, a beginner adult in the game of life. At times, I think of this in a negative way, as though I should be further along by now. Well, I can see now the error in my thinking.

What better to be than a beginner? Things are fresh, new, always changing! There is always a challenge to be met, not insurmountable (nothing is), and there is always the rewarding feeling of accomplishment, no matter how big or small. I see this regularly in the lesson arena, and I sometimes feel more like a cheerleader than the coach.

I have decided that I need to be a better cheerleader for myself and not worry about my 'level' in life so much.

Part of what is helping me recognize this (and hopefully utilize more often) is the riding lessons.

I have been working with lots of 'beginners' in the past year and we have had a grand time with the horses and with the kids (and adults!). Recently, several of my students have worked up to competing at their first gymkhana (horsey playday). I think I had forgotten what kind of butterflies happen when you enter an arena that isn't the lesson arena where the pattern seems far bigger and far more daunting. It's you and the horse, nobody else! You can't even hear yourself think!

Well, I think I walked and talked all day during the show thinking it's all old hat for these beginners, no problem. I think I forgot about all the courage and confidence that it takes for someone to go into the arena, in front of a bunch of strangers (over 100) for the first time and complete the pattern like they practiced all week.

You have to remember, we live in Phoenix, the fifth largest city in the U.S. and our students didn't grow up on horseback. They come from their cul-de-sacs on the freeway with a love for horses and a dream to ride. I could go on forever about what an amazing opportunity that Jodi provides for these students, no matter what age (or level in life!!).

So when Sunday was over and all was said and done, and every single one of our riders from first-timers to long-timers came home with ribbons and a sense of accomplishment, I couldn't help but realize how great it is to be the coach and the cheerleader in all of our beginner-ness.

I had snapped a photo of one of my littlest competitors (she is six), Cassidy, after she decorated her horse with her first ribbon. As she put it on, she declared, "Snuffy is the best horse!"

I always smile when people say that it's the horse's fault. :-)

What a beginner thing to say--forgetting to be the cheerleader for one's self! Yes, Snuffy worked hard all day, but so did the rider, and I spend a lot of my time as coach telling students what THEY accomplished and how their hard work paid off and how their horse rewarded them with their efforts.

This is where my inner cheerleader kind of fades off. I don't feel as though I have taught anyone much. Heck, it's the 'horse's fault'--they already know how to teach people, it's not me! I'm just a beginner!

But that's not all so true. I did teach somebody something. Whether or not it was a pattern or a particular gait or how to decorate your horse with a riboon, it was something.

That 'something' was sent to me in an email by a parent of some first-timers at the gymkhana. This really helped me feel like I do good things, purposeful and fulfilling things, no matter what other changes in my life make me feel less so.


Thank you so much for the GREAT picture AND for the AMAZING DAY!!!

I cannot express to you enough how amazing you and Jodi are for putting this
all together!

It was truly one of the most exciting days for the girls EVER- they have
been on Cloud 9 since! I have never seen such confidence and sincere
enthusiasm in anything else Alisabeth and Cassidy have done. It was such a
joy (even though I was a nervous wreck) to see them enjoy something so much!

Your patience, knowledge, sincerity and enthusiasm are incredible. We feel
very fortunate and blessed to have you in our lives and I always know the
girls are in good hands when they are with you.

The girls are already counting down to the next Gymkhana! And so am I- this
time I will be a little more prepared and have a couple LESS kids :) Thank
you again SO VERY MUCH! This past year has been AWESOME and we look
forward to more lessons, camps, and now Gymkhanas!

Amy, Alisabeth, Cassidy, and Kaitlin

So, if that doesn't help the inner cheerleader out in tough times, I don't know what will!!


Meanwhile, it's Floyd's 'fault' that he won money in the pole bending that day.

About a year ago, I had a big big wreck in that pattern, shortly thereafter, Floyd had some laminitic hoof problems and we have basically been off the performance trail since then. After a year off, Floyd has nearly 100% good feet and is ready to get back into the game. As for me, I think I am as well, but it will take some time to get Team KFlo back in shape, both physically and mentally. I will have to admit, I talked to Floyd in every pattern that day to assure myself that we would "turn here" or "easy" there. He has been so willing and kind to me as we ease back into "going fast again" as Ricky Bobby would put it.

I still marvel at what a great horse he is--always walking into the arena quiet, always letting me sit in front of the pattern and take a deep breath before we start, always remaining proud even when I put pink bell boots on him. He has taken care of me, a beginner, from Day One. A year off to have 15 more is a small price to pay.

I'm such a lucky girl.

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