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Thursday, November 25, 2010


I have a confession to make.  Are you ready?  I LIKE November.  

Those of you who don’t live in the Northeast are probably thinking, “Big deal.”  But for those of you who live in this climate, I can almost hear the gasps of shock.  

Why do I like November?  I’ll tell you.  I have thought for a long time that November gets a bad rap.  October foliage is a tough act to follow, sure, but November is quite lovely too, with the varying shades of silver and brown.  And the visibility in November is spectacular!  Being able to look deep into the woods offers a perspective we don’t get the rest of the year, not even in springtime.  Also, my daughter Hannah, one of my favorite people in the world,  was born in November.  

Mind you, I have not always been a fan of November, and I still don’t enjoy the endless days of rain  and gray that we can get.   But overall, I really like the whole hunkering down for winter feeling—more cooking, making sure my horses are tucked in and cozy for the night.  Nothing like the sound of rain on the roof while listening to my horses contentedly munching their hay, then going back in the house for some nice hot soup!

So many things in life come down to perspective.  You know, the whole glass half full/half empty thing.  It can be so easy to focus on the negative aspects of anything. Think about your horse.  For instance, do you have the mindset that,”My horse doesn’t like ring work—he gets so bored!” Is it your horse that doesn’t like it, or is it really YOU who gets bored? Or maybe you spend a lot of time wishing something about your life was different—a different horse, different place to live, different job.  All of these may be valid things in your life that need changing.  But two thoughts come to mind.  It’s easy to spend a lot of time wishing things were different and imagining how much better our lives would be if they were.  Wouldn’t this time be better spent enjoying what we have, and finding the beauty in it?  And it is so easy to spend time wishing for a change, without actually doing anything about it.  Not a very satisfying way to live!

I invite you to consider that your glass is half full.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Just do it! No, really.

I recently had a truly fabulous trail-ride on my horse, Simon.  No big surprise there, you say.  Regular followers of this blog know that I have raved about Simon more than once. He is my Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome—a 17h1” dark bay Bavarian Warmblood.  What made this ride so memorable was the variables that were thrown in.

  1. We were in the middle of a nor’easter that weekend, complete with a temperature of 37 degrees, high winds, driving rain, a few inches of snow, the works.  But my horses had already been in their stalls for all of the previous day, and Simon was clearly antsy.
  2. I decided to bring along my Border Collie, Beck.  Now, if you know anything about dogs, you know that Border Collies are very high-energy—a tired Border Collie is a happy Border Collie, and I try to  bring Beck along whenever possible.
  3. I was wearing my winter riding boots, which meant I couldn’t wear my spurs, as they don’t fit those puffy boots.
  4. And oh yeah, I had taken the flash noseband off Simon’s bridle, which had the potential effect of allowing Mr. Wonderful to ignore the bit a little more effectively.

What the heck, I figured, it’ll be fun! And besides, I was at the Fair Hill Three-Day Event last year, when the weather was absolutely horrific.  They had temps in the 30’s for the first three days, and pouring rain.  But they got out there and did their job.  I resolved after that weekend to never again complain about riding in a little inclement weather.  As the saying goes, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.”  

We set off up the  road, all of us happy to be outside, even in the teeth of the nor’easter.  Simon was high-headed and looking around, shying and spooking a little, being silly. Beck was bouncing in and out of puddles.  As we made our way up the road, the wind picked up and the rain came down in buckets.  When we got to a neighbors driveway, her four golden retrievers came barking and charging down the driveway toward us.  Mayhem ensued. Simon bucked and spun around,trying to bolt for home,  Beck charged off after the four goldens, and I was rather abruptly woken up out of my la-la land state, which is where I often tend to go when riding.  Meditative and relaxing, sure, but not always the most useful place to be on a horse.  

I sat up, took up some rein, and insisted that Simon pull himself together.  I called Beck, who mostly ignored me (it was too much fun to be big and tough and chase four dogs all at once), but then came back to me, and we continued up the road.  

For the rest of our outing, I had to be at my most alert, trying to ride every stride, and not get lulled into inattentiveness.  I insisted that Simon pay attention to me, and kept changing up what I was asking him to do, so that he always had at least one ear flicked back at me, checking in to see what was next.  He was that best possible combination—highly aware, light, responsive, forward.  It was wonderful!

Just do it?  Well, just do it for me meant making myself get out there when it would have been so easy to stay inside by the woodstove with a book. The tipping point for me was asking myself whether I would feel better about myself if I stayed inside for the morning, or got outside and worked my horse.   And just do it for Simon meant shut up and listen, with me insisting on the correct response the first time I asked him for something.  We returned to the barn feeling really pleased with ourselves.   

Here’s to pushing ourselves and our horses to become just a little bit better with every ride!