I’ve been uploading my horse journal from when I first got Max. It’s been an emotional project. Without being at that particular stable, I’m not sure I would have bought Max, so for that I am grateful that I started my equestrian journey there. However, I was so young, trusting, and naive then that I was hurt a lot. So many of my entries are me blaming myself for my riding lessons leaving me in tears. I was begging to just be able to enjoy my horse and ride, and not realizing what was preventing me from doing that. It just wasn’t the right place for us. I held on for years when I could have just left at any time.
So, yesterday I just dedicated my trip to the stable to that starry eyed girl I’ve been re-reading. I fulfilled her dreams of just brushing her beautiful new horse, braiding his mane, feeding him way too many treats, and walking around with him at liberty. I followed him into the pasture and leaned against him while he grazed, burying my head in his back and getting lost in his horsey smell. I sat in the grass and giggled when the other horses came up and sniffed me.
I wish I could go back and and tell that girl I was, seven years ago, that it’s okay to do all of those things. Having a horse is just having a horse. There’s no end goal. You can make goals, and you should, but there’s not a finish line that you have to cross, “or else”. Being happy is enough.
All these years of experience later, my stable trip was much different than hers would have been, had she given herself permission. I know when Max is pushing his boundaries and when to react. I read one of my entries where he had played hard to get with his feet. Now, he’s got his hoof in the air by the time I bend down towards it. I remember days where I spent 20 minutes chasing him around in the pasture. Now, he comes to me. It might take him a minute to decide to leave his patch of grass, but he’ll do it. When we walk around at liberty in the arena, I know how to send him out in order to make him join up. Youtube helped me learn these things, but Max was my real teacher. His reactions to me trained me how to train him. When I did the right thing, he did the right thing. That knowledge and confidence I have handling him now came from all those days where he didn’t want to give me his hoof or come in from the pasture.
I spent so much time berating myself for “failing” when I was just learning. Learning means making mistakes and not getting the results you intended. I still do, and isn’t it funny that I haven’t learned from the futility of beating myself up? I’m looking forward to the day when I can just shrug off a bad day and keep going, because tomorrow, or the day after, or a couple months later, is going to be better. Maybe that can be today.