Life is a continual ebb and flow of change - sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst. The comfort that I have come to find in these changes is not always in moments we are soaring. At times it is the in-between moments, where things are neither soaring or falling, but simply treading along the journey, maintaining a steady pace between the highs and lows.
The past week has contained a lot of lows, but it has contained a similar amount of highs as well. A few days ago, my husband and I enjoyed a night of remembrance of his dad, who left us far too soon. It came out of nowhere, really. It is ironic, because only a few days earlier, I had been talking to my mother, who was recounting something a therapist had shared with her once about grief. It ties into the "Ebb and Flow" theme effortlessly. They had told her that grief is not unlike the ocean tide. At times, the waves hit close together. Other times, they may be much further apart. But it doesn't change the impact the wave has upon you when it hits - the force is the same.
So that is what happened the other night. We were watching a movie that was filmed in Hawaii, and when the film came to a close, the closing credits were set to a hawaiian song we had used at his dad's funeral. And there it was - the tidal wave, crashing upon us, knocking us down, without any warning it was coming.
Then it expounded into yesterday, when I found out a boarder and close friend was going to have to move her horses. For the first time, I got to experience the perspective of the barn owner in this situation, and I can almost understand why some don't handle it so well. The initial reaction is to take it personally. Thankfully, because we do have a good foundation of friendship, the whole thing was settled and talked out in less than a day, and I am ecstatic to see her be able to have her ponies close to home where she can truly enjoy them.
I know this really doesn't have much correlation to my riding particularly, but I am learning to apply all these life lessons and experiences to my riding as well. I had my lesson the weekend before last, and it was spectacular. Then I came home and tried to apply all the things we had worked on, and we were still having issues. Things really came to a head this past Saturday, when Robyn and I both had issues with our horses. I was able to work through things somewhat, but was still not particularly satisfied with how they were going compared to how well our lesson had gone such a short time ago.
We went home, regrouped over a cup of coffee the next morning, and analyzed. We analyzed feed changes, weather patterns, terrain and footing, rider position and tension...every extinuating circumstance imaginable was discussed and beat into the ground until we came up with a plan. We hooked up my new trailer and took the horses over to Kelsey's to try riding in a contained, flat area. We lunged first, only for a few minutes, but enough to take the "buzz" off after trailering, etc. We both tweaked a few approaches in terms of tack. I approached every step with a different manner that day. When I went to mount, April took a few steps forward. Instead of asking her to halt, and then walking off, I got off and led her back to the mounting block. I remounted, and this time she only took a step forward. I got off again, then remounted while she stood quietly.
Then I progressed to the walk, and this time I didn't waste any time letting her hack around with her preffered "giraffe" form...I asked for contact immediately. Within two circles, she was round, soft, and had consistent weight in my hands. Once we had continued this through several circles and changes of direction, we moved on to the trot. It was flawless.
We got back to the farm that night, settled the ponies back in, and toasted our success with a six pack of Blue Moon. Then, the exuberation carried over into building a riding ring at the top of the hill, so we would have a flat contained area to school in for awhile. Our arena lighting had been finished while we were over at Kelsey's, so by the end of the night, we had a real ring, complete with lighting and all.
I repeated all these little changes Monday night, and again last night. Both rides were dramatically improved, but not without their little hiccups. Monday night's ride contained a little bit of the skippy gait-breaking canter she has bene doing, but we literally worked through it in a matter of minutes. Last night, she was being so spectacular, I trotted her over a little crossrail, and was rewarded with the most amazing canter off the backside of the fence. She got a little fussy shortly afterward, when I asked her to collect again at the walk and go around quietly. It is hard for her to come back after cantering or jumping. But we worked through it, and by the end, we had several more circles of a beautiful trot, without her breaking into a canter at all. Robyn actually commented on how nice of a mover she is, and what a lovely shoulder my sweet mare has.
So you see, it is all about the ebb and flow, in riding as well. I used to be the queen of dramatic interludes after a ride. As a matter of fact, a year ago, last night's ride would be nothing short of a disaster, because I had such a tendency to focus on the negatives rather than the big picture. Now I am learning to translate the real message of the ride - not the fact that is went badly at one point, but the fact that we worked through it and transformed the ride back into a positive experience by the end.
This fiery red mare is teaching me so many things. There are days that I really miss Delilah, but I know that April has come into my life with a very distinct purpose. She has already taught me so many things, and I can't wait to see what lesson she has for me next. It has been an adventure, to say the least. I am looking forward to whatever may be next.