From the Trainer's Desk:
Spring 2018-Where It All Begins: The Struggle Bus
Coming into this new show season, I was watching a few younger girls at our barn at home with their horses and ponies, and it gave me pause to remember where we all start as equestrians: As beginners.
Every one of us has come to the stables for the first time, wondered how in the heck to put a bridle on a horse with its head waving in the air ( or firmly planted in the feed bucket), or which way the saddle pad goes on, or what the heck is a diagonal is. Sound familiar? But at some point we were determined enough to choose these basics as a starting point and springboard off from there into a new unknown.
It is such a privilege to watch and guide new riders through these entry points and follow them as they progress, and remember when I was in tears at 11 years old trying to get ready for a lesson and being delayed by a big horse who would NOT let me pick its feet. Why do we keep going? We all start at the same point, and there are some riders who get to a certain point and decide that ballet is the easier option, but there are others who embrace the challeges, the dirt and frustration, in exchange for the joy of riding horses.
I try to remind myself, as well as my staff and clients sometimes that we all stick with this sport despite the inherent stuggles. We sign up for early morning pre-dawn schooling in the freezing cold, sustaining hard falls and injuries, failing to master latereal movements or no-stirrups work without hours of practice. We all started simple, but no matter what level one is now, we all started at the same place, and we still said, Yes! I'm in! I want to do this even though it is hard. I'm willing to take the risk, to stretch myself, to struggle.
My daughter Sofie started riding last year and I hope for her it will be as worthy a pursuit as it has been for me. Even now after 35 years of riding, I still continue to learn, to fight to master certain stills and to embrace new ways of thinking about my riding. I hope she uses her riding as a platform to learn more about herself, about how to work hard, and to accept that not everything worthwhile comes easily.
(but we riders all know it's worth it). KL
Fall 2017-A Global Reflection
At the end of each summer, I have the good fortune to take two weeks for a personal sabbatical to Europe alone for some personal time and reflection. I find that having the time to simply be quiet, absorb a different culture and embrace its rhythms is theraputic to both body and spirit. This August I spent my time in Spanish Andalusia, and was able to consider the blessings we all have in our work with horses. I visited the Royal Andalusion Riding School in Jerez (the photo above is the tack room!) , and watched riders training and caring for their horses, chatting together as they cleaned their boots, and doing all the same things that we do at home. To stand in a riding school that has been in operation for over 200 years is a magical thing, much like becoming a member of an historic society, and it struck me that the pursuit of equestiran sport truly is a universal pastime of many, and regardless of one's nationality or language spoken, we all come to the stable for the same reasons.
It is my hope that within the scope of my teaching and influence in the barn, to share this sense of timeless connection that we have with each other as riders, as well as a newly revived enthusiasm for seeing equestrian sport through a bigger lens. So much of our sport seems to be focused inward: what happens within our training barn with its riders, horses and families, the local shows that we attend, all the little daily successes and failures in our riding that we embrace on a personal level, it seems prudent to keep our viewfinder also pointing towards the bigger picture, and where we fit in a global family of horse people. Somehow it is comforting to know that all over the world, our fellow riders are having similar experiences and that we are part of something that has existed in some form for thousands of years. It's humbling, and seeing these medieval and renaissance period stables is a great reminder of how lucky we all truly are. Let's appreciate it together!
PS-I'm heading to Saumur, France in October to visit the Cadre Noir Riding School next. Can't wait!
2017 A New Beginning, A New Opportunity
It's a new year, and II find myself in a thoughtful place lately, and feeling a bit lost sometimes with all the big changes in our world. While I avoid the media to insulate myself from things that may be upsetting, I also try to turn inward to appreciate the real value of my profession.
I am, as an educator, very aware of my role as a person of influence, upon my clients, my staff and all the more important, the horses in my care. It seems that we are more and more busy these days, and we are increasingly slaves to our schedules, losing track of our true selves.
This obesrvation brings me to consider the influence of the horses upon us and how we could use this connection to our advantage. As "their people", the horses give us so much of themselves, lead a fairly simple and structured life with most things provided to them. I suppose what we experience the most while being around them is their strength of community, their lack of judgement, their ability to forgive and give us their full attention in contrast to our "outside the barn" lives. Maybe sharing something smaller and less global somewhere each day would make us all the better. Even when we aren't our best selves. Even if we don't have much to offer. The stables is a place to re-connect, to "lean in" and start to let our guard down a bit.
To be in the present, and not fixate on the past (or the future) is an ability the horses have that I think I will try to cultivate and hold in common with them. It is a real opportunity and a change to remember what is so easy for the horses, could become just as easy for us. Breathe, Consider. Relax. Connect with one another-what could be a better opportunity? Let's do it together. KL
I came across this thought the other day:
"I discovered that the horse is life itself, a metaphor but also an example of life's mystery and unpredictability, of life's generosity and beauty, a worthy object of repeated and ever changing contemplation." (Jane Smiley, author and local equestrian)
I think she is on to something. Our horses always seem to reflect not only what we bring to the barn each day, but also to represent the very essence of what we hold most dear in them as a species-their mystique. Our horses forgive us and are generous with their affection, even when we are not at our best. They hold an allure in our attempts to earn their trust and admiration, and give it freely in the most natural and beautiful way. Their nickers, nuzzles and treat-frisking only encourage us to come back for another day. They encourage us to think, to consider ourselves within, to embrace altruism and selflessness. What could be better?