“To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Like we do, I've spent many days simply moving through life. It's only recently I've really stepped back to realize how different the world is when we take the time to be attentive to the things and the people around us.
When was the last time you stopped from your harried grooming session to sniff deep the scent of your horse? Take a wander up the road in hand and while your boy nibbles the last of the green autumn grass, you stand back and simply take in his beauty?
When did you last catch catch a sunset? Did you text your best to tell her she matters to you? How long has it been since you wrapped your arms around your partner and just appreciated a moment of nothing?
I read something today that said we are too good at forgetting to be "human beings" when we're so busy as "human doings".
I consciously now, every day, try to take the time to notice, appreciate and be attentive to the little things, the simple things, the beautiful things. And while I can't say it's the key to happiness and success in my life, it certainly leaves me renewed every day for whatever may come my way.
My Sunday mornings are devoted to trail riding with H and E. The three of us will hit the local park, ride through the fallen leaves, canter three abreast down the trails, popping over the odd log, deeking around corners, smiling and giggling and laughing. We always get one crazy gallop in, where we urge our horses into their fastest gait and run side-by-side, laughing in all the merriment in the world. It is, and will always be, some of the most perfect moments of my existence. Friends, both human and animal, the bond to have a powerful creature striding out below you, the exhilaration as you urge him faster, laughing as you whip beside your friends, not a care or fear in the world. If there ever was truth to heaven, it's right there in that moment.
Saturday's horse show. I'm excited and nervous! H and I are going with some other friends, and it'll be interesting. We're all a bunch of greenies!
Last night I had some time to pop over to the barn before my oil change, and set up a small four jump course for Moon and I to practice over.
I did up a 2'7" vertical along the rail, a 2'4" vertical in the middle of the ring on a diagonal, an x-rail skinny just off the other rail (with enough gap to ride past in case Moon needed some school on running out), and finally a tiny little 1' vertical on the short side, more to focus on being handy and not cutting corners.
On warm-up, Moon even jumped over a rail on the ground. Like JUMPED. That horse is nuts.
My intent was to ride everything from a trot, since he should be fine doing those heights at that slower pace. We started out a little rough, and I can tell that I have a huge impact on him. When I'm nervous, he wavers like CRAZY coming up to the fence. He also hesitates, gets in too deep and pops over.
Focussing on just the x-rail and little 1' jump at first, I worked on getting a nice pace, keeping him even to the fence, my heels down, body under me, not jumping too soon and looking ahead and forward.
After a few goes I felt confident in our performance, and we tried the 2'4" after the x-rail. Success. The second time we did the same sequence, I asked him transition to a canter after we made the corner, trying to maintain that nice pace and trying to determine how he'd need to pace to arrive at the fence in a controlled manner and at the right distance. He got over nicely, and again, I thought about transitioning down to trot for the corner, maintaining our impulsion and circling back around to the 1', as a way of making sure he didn't think we stop and rest after every jump.
Eventually, I worked it out so we would trot to the x-rail, circle deep into the next corner, straighten, transition to canter, three strides to the 2'4" vertical, land, transition to trot for the short side, back to canter after the next corner, and then stride confidently (but not rush) to the 2'7" vertical on the next long side. And then back to trot and a big trot circle before stopping.
Our first time through, he tapped the rail on the 2'7" with his hind and it came rolling down. I still rode him in the circle before slowing, and fixing the fence. Again, I told myself.
The next time through, we went clean the whole way, even coming around and doing the x-rail a second time in the opposite direction after the 2'7".
We did it again, changing the order and direction of the fences so that we'd have our own version of a jumping course.
Once he tried to really rush the 2'7" fence, but he responded beautifully to my request to slow a touch, and I felt like we had a beautiful jump over it because of it.
When we had done our 'course' three times, I decided we were good for the day and didn't want to wear him out before the weekend. But I really couldn't believe how much he seemed to take to jumping. My little quarter horse seemed genuinely confident and eager over fences when *I* was confident and eager over fences!
My mind kept going to the thought of x-countrying him next year, when we both have a little more confidence.
And sitting there on his back after his beautiful clear round at a canter (remember, Mr. Moon never even had a canter transition before!) I suddenly realized something earth shattering. More crazy then the fact that Moon was loving jumping...
*I* wasn't scared for once. There were no nerves by that second time we did our little course; I was simply riding and moving with him, flowing through the course, asking him instinctively for what I think he needed to approach cleanly (more impulsion or more collection), would release myself to his judgement a stride before the fence, leave the reins for his choosing and let my body flow how it felt it should.
I was jumping naturally, not obsessively and fearfully.
And it felt, amazing.