If you follow Denny Emerson’s page on Facebook ( Tamarack Hill Farm), you know he talks a lot about the younger demographic in the horse industry, as well as the basic concept of how good riders get good (he literally wrote the book on that topic). If you don’t follow him, well, you should.
A recent post hit me in the heart, as many of them do… basically a nod at he many excuses riders make for not being better, typically lack of funds, and how we should be saying instead: “Must be nice to have that drive.”
All riders start out green.
Some ride and ride and practice and practice, and get fitter and stronger and more athletic, and study, and learn and get better and better.
Some don’t ride and ride, don’t practice and practice, don’t get fitter, stronger and more athletic, don’t study, don’t learn and don’t get better and better.
Then, not always, but more often than should happen, members of the latter group, when talking about the smaller, former group, will say things like, “Must be nice to be rich. Must be nice to have good horses. Must be nice to have supportive parents.Must be nice to have all that good instruction, Must be nice to—–.”
And, sure, it is nice.
But it is totally missing the main point.
“Must be nice to have that drive. Must be nice to be willing to push yourself. Must be nice to have that work ethic. Must be nice to have that intellectual curiosity. Must be nice to have that dedication. Must be nice to——–.”
It made be reflect back on myself as a kid. I would do whatever it took to beg or borrow time in the saddle or just at the barn. I was the kid volunteering to de-rock the paddocks because being there in the smelly poop soaked mud was the best thing on Earth – after all, horses lived there. I took every opportunity that came along, worked two jobs to buy my own totally unwanted bottom of the barrel OTTB and pay her board, braided and groomed my way to just go to horse shows.
Now, as an adult, I have painstakingly set my life up in a way that kid me would drool at. I was able to afford owning my own horse, got my own truck and shared trailer, and when horse #1 got hurt bought horse #2 and soon thereafter got my own little farm to lighten the heavy financial burden of boarding two horses. I could walk out my back door and be in my own barn. This time a year ago I took all of that for granted, somehow finding excuses or opportunities to mope, that I didn’t have this trainer or that farm or lived closer to there… and wondered why my riding went stagnant.
Having Emma kick me and put me in the hospital was one of the most traumatic but most needed events in my most recent life. I needed a reminder that I was taking so much for granted – my life, my time, my health, my abilities, and the plethora of opportunity I could create for myself if I only just tried. If only I just walked out my door, tacked up and rode, trailered to that clinic/show/lesson, showed up to that club meeting, or just said yes.
Nearly a year after the fact – after surgery, and recovery, and a pregnancy I thought I would lose because of the accident but was blessed to keep… after giving birth and the recovery involved there, and now while learning the ropes of parenting and figuring out my new normal – I feel that addictive drive again. I feel that tingle in my gut and the itch in my fingers. I gotta be on a horse, near a horse, whatever involves a horse. I want to hold reins, shovel muck, drag hoses, throw hay. Two things matter these days: my kid and my butt in the saddle. Everything else is optional.
I won’t lie, I have been struck with a lot of bad luck that would probably make most people quit. But those people probably aren’t horse people.
True horse people spring back like a pop up book from hell, better not bitter. Can’t help it, it’s in our blood.