Patience Pays

I’m fairly certain that, as Pirate watched every other horse BUT him load up onto the trailer at some point over the spring and summer, he was starting to lose his patience. Yes, he was ridden every day, but it was never more than a hack and a light trot-set, and this isn’t REAL riding at all…not for Pirate, at least.  This boredom led first to him being “the fat kid,” who walks along at a snail’s pace trying to eat grass, leaves, weeds, etc. the entire time, looking for food to fill the void in his life generally filled by exciting things like cross-country; and later, “the bad kid,” the one who so desires to be the center of attention that they will do anything, anything, to get it.  In Pirate’s case, this involved spooking violently at the same exactly set of mailboxes every single day, often throwing himself in front of moving cars to do so, and also being terrified of the photo of himself jumping a ditch & brush at The Fork that makes up part of our sign at the end of the driveway.  One can only expect a horse with Pirate’s wiring to wait patiently for his turn for so long before he just starts to lose it a bit.

Now, speaking of patience…rather than excuses for why I haven’t written a blog in over 4 months, I will distract you all with shiny objects, such as jumping ahead to the news that patience has paid off, and Pirate is a real horse again! He is sound, getting fit, and even jumping again. This news could not have come at a better time – as in, when I was in the midst of Olympic fever. I drove up to the vet clinic (Statesville Equine) the day before Boyd started up the Games by cantering up centerline, admittedly a nervous wreck because, while P felt great in his trots, it was up to Dr. Travis (Blackwelder) to clear us for real work. Thankfully, the extra few months I gave him seem to have paid off, because he flexed and jogged beautifully. (I might have cried a little…just sayin’). It hadn’t been easy continuing to limit Pirate’s daily routine to short trot-sets and long hacks on pavement for several months past our vet’s recommendation, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time, and I’m glad I went with the “better too much time than not enough!” mentality. So, with my shiny news of Pirate’s return to work, I watched the Olympics with a renewed vigor, and thoughts like “That will be us one day, Baby P!!!” were once again allowed to float around my mind.

Aside from paying off, another thing patience pays is THE BILLS. The good thing about my spring and early summer NOT being Pirate-focused was that it gave me extra time and energy to throw into all the new project horses coming in seemingly all the time, some just for training and others to sell, and also into kicking all of my students’ butts, which I’m sure they appreciated.  I don’t do the “lazy summer” thing very well, so I was grateful for how busy I stayed.  I did, however, have quite a significant break from the work, work, work routine: I darted off to England for a couple of weeks!  Jetting across the ocean for a little UK vacation sounds a lot fancier than it actually was, but Jamey (the other main man in my life) and I had an amazing time.  Don’t worry, even on British soil I was still very much the girl from Possum Hollow Road, and there were plenty of “Jamey, I don’t think we’re in Indian Land anymore…” moments as he showed me all around the country he knows so well.  From the Cotswolds to North Yorkshire, Devon to East Sussex, our friends (new and old) were wonderful to us…so thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts, for the spare beds you lent us, meals you fed us, and horses you let us meet.

I am also exceptionally grateful to my working students, who have made this crazy summer fun, and have managed to “make it happen” anytime I asked something of them…you’ve done me proud, girls!  There is no way I could have popped over to England for two weeks without my hardworking students, the ever-supportive Momma Briggs to watch over them, and especially my “Head Girl,” Ashley, to keep the barn running and horses alive and well in my absence.  Ash might be the best example of the level of character we should all aspire to, and I don’t think I have ever met someone who tries harder and refuses more adamantly to give up, sticking with the horses through being dealt the toughest of cards, to make something out of nothing and make us all proud…with a smile on her face the entire time.

Sappy praise of my long-standing working student OVER – Ashley, if you’re reading this, you’ve already spent enough time at the computer and there is probably a horse somewhere who needs tacking up.  By the way, am I even going to remember how to tack up a horse after being spoiled all summer by my students??  Don’t leave me for school, girls, who needs that anyway?!  (KIDDING, moms!!).

Coaching Ashley at an event in May. © Becca Macanas

So, moving on…while the spring season was much lighter than usual on the competition side of things, I kept myself entertained with Geno (a.k.a. The Italian Job), whom I got in December as a 3-yr-old from my friends the Kingsleys in Camden, and also the rockstar little Appy “Jaz” (owned by the Ashrafi family). The highlight was certainly the Heart of the Carolinas Three-day Event, which offered the long format (roads & tracks and steeplechase on cross-country day) at the BN-Training levels. Jaz (Link to photos here) felt more than ready, and indeed tore up those courses like they were much too easy for her (which they probably were) to finish in 5th on her dressage score, which was in the 30s, though we are always looking to improve it.  Geno (photos here), whom I believe was the youngest horse there, was certainly the greenest – we only ran Novice, but considering all he did in preparation for it was 1 BN in March, and one-half of a Novice in April (had a slip during a downpour on cross-country and scared himself, so I pulled him up), I think he was brilliant.  He had a lovely dressage test (such an obedient baby!), was incredibly bold on the biggest darn Novice cross-country course I’ve ever seen, and show-jumped like a Hunter (truly beautiful round) to finish in 4th on his dressage score.  I actually think I was most proud of how hard he tried on steeplechase.  He was a bit worried on his first try, but he tried super hard and had it figured it by the end.  I had to call and tease my friend Arch (who is a steeplechase trainer) for never trying him over a fence before sending him my way…but Geno isn’t exactly fast, so he probably did the right thing.  He’s such a sweet, smart, talented baby that I don’t know how I’m supposed to let him go.  I have a feeling I will keep coming up with excuses to keep him, as I have a tendency to do when I have a horse of my own I’m supposed to be selling.  Sell for a client?  No prob.  Sell one of mine…that’s another story.

Geno's first attempt at a steeplechase fence.

So, with training and sale projects, a fantastic group of students, and a pretty great couple of weeks in the UK, I can’t say I’ve been the least bit bored this summer.  Visiting Francis Whittington’s yard at the end of our trip inspired me to go home and try my hardest to ride like that, and even if I couldn’t apply it to Pirate right away, I had plenty of others on which to remember what I’d seen and try to mimic it.  I am beyond blessed for this opportunity to ride horses for a living, and no matter how many years I’ve been doing it, not a day passes in which I do not feel exceptionally lucky to have made a career out of something I so love.  Back in June, I galloped a racehorse up the Middleham moor in North Yorkshire, looked around at the green and the mist and the narrow, winding road below us, and for once didn’t fear the moment when the fog would lift to reveal I was only dreaming….because, for once, it was all for real.

I admit that I felt pretty sorry for myself last fall and winter, when Pirate wasn’t able to do anything but walk around (and get shockwave treatments in that leg); it’s hard, when you’ve spent your life trying to make things happen against all odds, to just sit and wait.  If I’d let my life just happen, just unfold the way it seemed to want to, it would have fallen apart.  I’ve spent the past 12+ years trying to make something of myself, do something with my life that was my own choice and not that of the cards I’d been dealt; your destiny is to be created, not followed, and if the path you are walking feels easy, you ought to be running, hiking, climbing – pushing yourself past your comfort zone to find the more difficult one.  And then, if you’re struggling, if it’s hard – you’re on your way, and you can never allow yourself to fall, not even when you’ve been pushed to the ground.  Getting what you want is not supposed to be easy, and nothing ever comes to you if you don’t at least meet it halfway; more often than, you’ll have to chase it down.  I tell my girls that if there is something they want – to be, to have, to do – then they must make that happen themselves; and if they are waiting on someone to come and do it for them, they will spend the rest of their lives waiting on someone who will never come, and wondering why their life never became they’d hoped it to be.

So when this is your mindset, and your life has done nothing but prove to you that waiting on something means it will never come, it is hard not to push the limits every day, to take back what you think is yours. But right around the time when spring brought life, growth, and that familiar sense of hope to the waiting world around us, it brought a much-needed sense of patience to me, reminding me that they always come back around; the things we so desperately want are usually just around the corner.  Just as the way an early morning fog in the springtime lifts to reveal brilliance behind it, the things we aspire to can hide behind a veil sometimes, so much so that they don’t even seem to be there.  But just know that they are, and you must be patient for them; and while sometimes in life you have to “make it happen”…at other times, you must simply allow it to.


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One Response to Patience Pays

  1. Amber says:

    Before reading this, I was feeling so discouraged that I actually thought of giving up riding all together for the first time. Your blog really encouraged me not to give up :)

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