Weird Horse Girl
Being labeled “The Weird Horse Girl” has been a part of my identity since I was old enough to talk and walk. Horses have been there in every milestone, every single step I’ve taken into a new state of being. From being an awkward tween to an even awkwarder teenager and beyond, I have clutched to the label like a lifeline. It has been my saving grace and financial down fall for nearly my entire life.
There have been a lot of horses in my life who have come and gone, they’ve all left their own impression on me as a rider and a person, but the sheer joy and terror of owning my first, very own horse was by far one of the most daunting tasks I’ve ever done. I was in middle school and as a perpetually awkward tween I found it difficult to find “a crowd”. I was the only equestrian in my school and no one understood the strange fascination I had with horses. Anyone who tried to understand it just brushed it off as a hobby and chalked it down to “the horse does all the work” (my ass). Every horse I’ve owned has taught me a new lesson, a new life skill that has helped me in virtually every aspect of my life.
My first horse taught me not to be afraid. Before him, I was very shy and typically did not speak my mind or inject my opinion. I avoided large groups of people or even making new friends because I was so insecure of myself and my ability to relate to others. My first horse, Jackson opened a world to me I did not know exsisted. Through him I found a foothold in the a group that allowed me to build a strong foundation, to remold myself into a confident teenager who wasn’t afraid of rejection or putting herself out there. Through him I was reborn in a sense, I underwent a baptism that allowed me to emerge as a new person. I no longer felt like a wall separated me from others, that I had overcome it at some point in the years I had Jackson.
Like all great and beautiful things, they never last. Jackson went to the great pasture in the sky, leaving me to continue my journey with another horse, Donnie.
When I first got Donnie, I thought he was the horse of my dreams. He had great movement and a willing attitude, all the right ingredients for a “dressage a la mode.” What I hadn’t counted on was having a horse who was actually a chicken, literally scared of everything. Thanks to Jackson I had a healthy dose of courage to ride Donnie through his… not-so-great moments. However, Donnie needed something I did not have, patience.
While Donnie was a sweet horse who liked to be pet and he fed carrots, he was by far the most cowardly horse I had ever meet. It annoyed me at first that I couldn’t go on trail rides least I be bucked off and left for dead in the middle of nowhere. I couldn’t ride with other people because he was afraid of the other horses moving next to him, and the list goes on. I had to practice patiently getting him to point A to point B with no bucks or take offs… patiently.
I don’t need to stress how much of an impatient person I am, but when I had Donnie I had to put everything in perspective. I couldn’t be selfish anymore and do things on my own whim, I actually had to listen and understand with not a single spoken word what he needed from me, while communicating to him what I needed in return. I had to wait and struggle with him to reach our end goals and surprisingly enough, it was always worth it. I learned that good things do not come easily and they take time, effort, and cooperation. It was painful, tears were shed and many, many, many cuss words were spoken; However, I begun to realize that the best things in life are painful, they take work and the results of your labor is not always immediate or gigantic even.
So now we move on to the next project. And by project I mean, PROJECT (in horse terms this is basically a horse that’s green or immature/not trained and needs a lot of work and commitment).
Free is… special. He’s extremely intelligent and willing but he’s sensitive and like a firecracker that has the shortest fuse and is just waiting to be light. At this point, I feel confident that I can tackle this challenge and mold him into the horse I know he can be. Quickly did I face the humility that I still have much to learn. Free has brought me back to Earth, he continues to test me and remind me that my journey isn’t done yet. He makes my flaws obvious and forces me to face them, both as a rider and a person.
I’m learning to be humble (another weakness of mine, I have to admit). I’m trying to be humble, I have the confidence and patience taught to me by Free’s predecessors, but now I have to plant my feet in the ground and listen carefully. I can’t let my own accomplishments blind me to the fact that I’m no professional. Working with him shows me that I’ve come a long way and have a longer way to go still.
My experience with horses has molded me into the person I am today. If I did not have them I probably would’ve remained a quit, shy girl who couldn’t relate to anyone around her. I wouldn’t have acquired the patience to get me through high school, and now I’m learning humbleness to get me through college (alive, hopefully). Again, I have much to learn and everyday it becomes more apparent how much I really don’t know, but the reward of finally getting things like consistency in the right lead canter or getting him to accept the bit is more rewarding than words can describe.