Sunday, September 16, 2018

Who's On Your Team?

Show Buddy and I have shared quite a few years of horse showing together!
I think an intrinsic part of horse ownership is having those you can not only lean on when shit gets tough, but also celebrate with when success takes place.

The sport of horse riding is hard enough to do solo-style, so having a group (or even just a few friends) that can apply themselves thoughtfully and appropriately throughout your riding career to help you grow as a thoughtful and well-rounded rider. And also, vice-versa!

We can't deny that horses are wonderful creatures. The whole Black Stallion Syndrome thing is fun to watch on the big screen and forging a tangible relationship with them is kinda where we all aspire to be one day. The sheer spirit of them can give us so many things we otherwise wouldn't know we needed. And while they may lift our spirits and mend our hearts, they can also break them.

And I'm not talking about death here - I'm talking about the tangible, non-linear progress that is horse riding. The frustrations, disappointments, uncertainty... it can all take it's toll on us as an individual, and to have a team that backs us, supports us, and is there to help pick up the pieces is not only good sportsmanship, it's just plain old camaraderie.

This buckskin bucked me off more times than I care to remember.
The circle of friends who silently pat your back and remind you, "Tomorrow is another day" when a class didn't go as planned, or a"Yup, been there before" hug as you wonder why the hell you chose a baby horse are the ones who help us navigate this path of horse ownership relatively unscathed. Because as we forge our relationship with our horse, we kinda need those people to keep us grounded and keep our eye on the prize so to speak.

Even more than that tho, are those who are on your team when things go well. When the endless amounts of 20m circles have finally paid off, those people who can be truthfully and wholly happy for us matter just as much. Being able to celebrate your victories with the same level of excitement and happiness you do is imperative. And it isn't just being there when you earn blue ribbons.

It's the ones who celebrate successes that matter to you. A perfect canter serpentine. A non-spooky trail ride. A clear jump round. A solo hack around the barn.

And a friend to help you celebrate your hard-earned wins.
Because you guys, this red horse was a fucking demon when I first rode him.
All the blues we won were damn well deserved.
It's not to say that there is an expectation to ass-pat or drop everything to have a celebratory dance party, but the ability to react and share excitement in something that means something to someone is... everything.
It's been an interesting process for me, to look back and see who has been there along the way with me and my horses in both our triumphs and failures (and there have been a lot of them!).  The amount of "firsts", "seconds", and "thirds" each have a special place in my heart, regardless of the situation being negative or positive. The entire process of bringing up Annie has been enlightening, scary, and completely engrossing.

I'm sure those who have brought up young horses continuously will kinda shrug off the small advances in a young horse's riding career, but I am deeply entrenched in sharing, discussing, and just figuring it all out. Because for me, this is firmly uncharted territory and even when I'm floundering along not sure what to do, I appreciate the friends who quietly let me figure out my next move without jumping the gun and assuming I was lost amongst a sea of uncertainty.

I can appreciate those who have nodded silently from the sidelines as an act of support, even when they didn't completely agree with x, y, or z. And I can appreciate those who pat me on the leg after a class, reminding me just how awesome my mare is. And I sure as hell can appreciate those who can laugh alongside me during a good trail ride.

Which is the whole point of it, right?

We're all out here to enjoy our horses, and the friends we meet along the way make it just that much sweeter.

And sometimes, our biggest cheerleaders aren't even riders themselves <3
That's not to say that advice or unwarranted info from a friend will always be welcome tho. Because, maybe an idea wasn't presented properly, or a thought wasn't executed accurately. The best thing to do, unless some serious what the fuckery is occurring? Kinda what our moms always taught us - say nothing at all unless your opinion is being asked.

Sometimes tho, unneeded advice doesn't come from friends - there will be the Rail Birds both in the ring and in the barn, keen on dissecting and attempting to manipulate your groove. Friends are important here too, because it's easy to make assumptions or conclusions based off of scattered viewings. Here, it's the friends who remind you no one else's opinion matters in the grand scheme of things are those worth keeping.

It's not to say you should shield yourself from criticism, because at some point in horse ownership we all grow a bit of a thick back bone. And sometimes, ya, your backbone has to break a little bit to keep you humble and realize maybe you are making a mistake. But, at the same time, it's worth more to take advice or simple musings from those who want us to grow and make decisions thoughtfully vs emotionally.

So in a way, you have to be a bit attentive as to who's in your circle and why they are there. Are they there only when things go right? Are they only there to offer their form of "advice" when things go wrong? Are they there to feed off of your achievements as if they were their own?

Because at the end of the day, we are all just trying to do the best for our horse. Which brings me to a post Emma made not so long ago that can actually be applied to this post in a weird, far out way, haha. Kinda like the issue with gimmicks, we can't cover ourselves with friends that only bring us down or friends that make us believe horse-shoes and rainbows fall out of our ass.

Supporting a friend and her mare at their first show undersaddle, while
another friend covers the media angle and Spud-sitting.
There needs to be balance, and certainly a healthy dose of respect between two people to make it truly work. It's pretty simple - keep those who are true to you and your horse on your team and even more than that, make sure you are a good cheerleader right back.

With that being said, being able to share my horses and our training journey with like-minded individuals is largely why I write and share as much as I do. I certainly wouldn't do it (or keep it public) if the wide-variety of comments were impolite, rude, or just plain mean. Which, I am grateful this platform has been such a positive experience for me, because I don't have the ability to share or commiserate within the aisleways of the barn (the whole self-boarding thing can make a person feel kinda isolated).

I am thankful for the people who, regardless of being here in flesh or spirit, have continually supported me throughout my riding career.

It can be done alone, but it is funner with friends.


  1. definitely 1000% more fun with friends ;)

  2. Riding is definitely more fun with friends. I have to confess I am kind of lonely in my current situation but I do have support from friends at other barns and from wonderful bloggers :)

    1. I'm kinda in a similar situation - I don't have anyone I really ride with all the time. Its mostly support from friends via text/phone and thru blogging :)

  3. So true. I do really love having my husband to ride with all the time.

  4. I wish I had more people around me but I do have a pretty awesome team of friends who support Carmen and I.

  5. Great post - Respect is the imperative word there.

    1. I think that is where a lot of people get mixed up with friends and "frienemies". There has to be respect on both sides in order to make it work. That's the only way it'll work