Most everyone has probably seen this photo, but it’s one of the most powerful pictures I’ve ever seen. Richard is a fantastic photographer and I’m so pleased he captured this moment. It’s intriguing to see JJ, my coach, in the forefront of the picture, so that in a way she is the focus, but as with any great coach, the rider and horse are the true focus. On facebook I quoted this photo with “She is the artist and we are her canvas,” which I find to be completely true.
When I look at this picture, I see the culmination of three years: I see an unknown rider, I see a horse everyone had given up on, and an educated master with the knowledge to take the scattered marbles and put it together to make a Grand Prix team. Ultimately I see three pieces that form a successful relationship.
In the end, this is how I resurrected that mare, as JJ phrases it. I started asking her what SHE wanted, I started tailoring a program where she felt like her opinion mattered, and then slowly I said, “Hey, maybe I can make a suggestion?!” and QUICKLY RUNNING 👧 🐴 🏃 the next day to a topic she was comfortable driving the boat with. Slowly the mare who felt no value decided to partake, to tolerate, to teach, and in the end propel herself and truly enjoy her job.
I have always been an emotional rider in the sense of I’m in this for the bond, for the horse to completely meld to me because I’ve earned that trust piece by piece. Not every time is that how the horse world is going to turn, as is the case with being here at the Verband. I will admit that’s a learning curve for a rider who rides so emotionally bonded.
My coach here says, “Ride every horse the same,” and I wholeheartedly agree that the basics should be presented the same with every horse, but as I’ve always had to think outside the box, it’s hard to keep my usual personal questions I’d ask a horse in check. There isn’t time for that here. That isn’t my job here. My job isn’t to develop this long-term, committed relationship, and that throws me for a loop, and yet a great learning path by all means.
There is a comfort in my older mare who I know every nook and cranny to. When I swing my leg over her for the day (usually last because she’s my patient one), I know every outcome of the ride, I know exactly how to approach any answer she gives me, and there is a calmness and security in that. I LOVE that place in a partnership, human or horse. I’m a five-years-in kind of person; the getting-to-know-you stage is the hardest for me, horse or human (☺ ).
So this week riding has been about getting the work needed done and not being in my passive, self-help mojo, especially with the one older horse I ride here. He, like Rachael, has his own program, and my coach has really pushed me to ride true, even though I haven’t gone through my, “Hi, I’m Danielle, let’s get to know each other and then I’ll start asking questions.” That means some struggles and some slightly frustrating rides. I’m a bit of an overachiever, so I stress when I can’t get it. I’ve pondered and been concerned my rides on him have been tougher, but guess what, today I started him on my own and the coach came in the ring and said I had it. Hallelujah! She even asked what I changed overnight. I truly did detach a bit today and just said we’re starting off where we ended yesterday, and for him, that worked. Whew, huge relief. I can breathe again. I’m not failing. #overachieverprobs
Even I need to remind myself I came here to be pushed. Even if you have one, two or three hard rides, you keep trying the next day. A winner is someone who never gives up!
With that aside, I got to ride some stallions this week also, and one of them I felt like I really got along with. Mares and stallions: Guess I like horses with hormones?
The stallion and this adorable three-year old we have offset my tendency to feel like a failure. The three-year old is just one of the babies that thrives and just does. He is amazing on his own, so I’m not sure it’s really any of us. It’s like my baby Jia; you show her once and off she goes.
We ended the week with some jumping of the dressage horses. I LOVE to see the cross-training over here. I believe that is SO important. We didn’t even need to call the paramedics for the dressage riders 😉 .
On a funny note, Emily and I went to McDonald’s in Verden and ordered in German. The cashier just swapped to English. Pretty sure we weren’t that bad … Toodles!