Friday, January 13, 2012

'til your knuckles show white

I’m still thrilled from yesterday’s ride.

I stumbled across a quote on another blog (forget who’s now) that read:
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common then unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
      - Calvin Coolidge 

Perhaps this is our motto? Or vision statement?

I have been working towards that canter for many months now, often feeling a bit defeated that it wasn’t there. At times, I thought perhaps he couldn’t canter. Sometimes I thought I couldn’t canter. Often I was left feeling like we were going to be stuck showing Walk-Trot for the rest of our lives.

In the midst of all my doubts, remained a determination to get there. Week after week, I struggled with a rushing trot, a horse that would rather buck then canter off and eventually, a horse that would fall out of the gait at every corner. I’d say that I could have easily given up, but that’s not true. A horse that doesn’t canter a circle? I’m not going to be that person. I knew he could do it, I just didn’t know what we were doing wrong. Or needed to do to fix it.

There seems to come a moment in a rider’s life when they transition (pun?) from an unaware rider to a truly self-aware rider. Yesterday I finally felt like I could focus on myself and my actions instead of being overwhelmed by what I was supposed to be doing. Granted, I still need to take it a step further and be able to modify my movement in response to what I am experiencing, but this is a good first step. I finally felt like a rider instead of a marionette.

If someone had told me in May 2011 that it would be 8 months before my horse was capable of cantering a SINGLE 20 m circle, I would have stared at them, eyebrow raised. 8 months? To canter a circle. Granted though, when I started with W, she told me it would be a slow process. But I’d always respond with “We have our whole lives”. I still believe that. If determination and persistence are the wondrous training tools they seem to be, then I no longer doubt that we can achieve a great deal of what I dream up. Do not get me wrong. We will never be Grand Prix riders, mastering piaffe or Olympians who can perform levade. The very basis of who we are limits us, yet allows us to reach great heights. How so? Because while our confirmation, age, time, finances and training limit our natural abilities, we are determined to find our successes. Where others may throw their hands up and admit defeat, we’ll soldier on.

Perhaps it’s like a maze, where you choose a direction to head and make strong strides until you reach a wall. Or a door. Or a cross-roads. Sometimes you make a wrong decision and have to back-track. Sometimes you end up going the wrong way or getting turned around. Sometimes though, you get out of the maze and find yourself standing in a beautiful world knowing “I created this”. And then you re-enter the maze to find out what more you can create.

Probably a month ago, I would have told you that I don’t think we will be ready to canter at a show this year. Schooling or sanctioned, I wasn’t certain we’d be ready. But I was determined to at least try.

I suppose that’s what our jumping experience is as well. I’m fortunate to have W’s guidance when it comes to Dressage Schooling and have reaped many benefits from it. There is NOTHING more valuable then hours logged in the saddle, but at the same time, there’s no greater gift then having a set of educated eyes guiding and helping you. For us, when it comes to jumping, we’re green. Moon has pretty much no experience and my experience is all in that wide-eyed “OMG, am I doing this?!” state. The best was a 2’6” hunter course, when I’d never before jumped a course, even of x-rails. Thankfully, I had a school master to guide me.

I want jumping to be MY training. I know that it might be slow, we might not be very good, but I want to experience truly training a horse for myself. W has given me so much confidence and education on the flat that I’m excited to apply it over jumps. I swapped up my book order (finally got it to work at 11 pm last night) and ordered a book on cavalletti exercises. And when it arrives I’m going to work through it. Step by step by step.

Now all I want to do is find every competition coming up and canter at all of them! Even though our canter is still unmasterful and fleeting at best. There’s something inspiring when you catch a glimpse of what can be, and becoming focussed on chasing it down.

As said in National Velvet: “Some day you’ll learn that greatness is only the seizing of opportunity – clutching with your bare hands ‘til the knuckles show white”.

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