Spring Forward

10514499_10152422675337483_6845840039803449598_n“If you’re going to make a mistake, make it going forward.”  That’s the best piece of advice I have ever been given as a rider. Whatever pickle you may find yourself in on a horse, leg is usually the answer. I found myself in a slight predicament on cross-country at Virginia Horse Trials in the fall, when Pirate jumped boldly over a brush, landing with his eye on his B element on down the hill a bit, like he tends to do. Meanwhile, I managed to see absolutely nothing in terms of line, distance, etc. to the big corner, but as I find myself saying all the time, thank God for Auto-Pirate! Sure, I’m guilty of getting in his way often enough, but at least in this instance I managed to have the good sense to sit there with my leg on and let him sort it out. He did, of course, and galloped on to have the most beautiful round, finishing 2nd in the Open Intermediate – our best result to date at the level. Not a bad way to wrap up the comeback tour for the broken-necked wonder, eh?

That’s just it, though – I’m ready to close that chapter in our lives. We are no longer on the road to recovery; this is now the road to Advanced. He moved up to Intermediate at the end of his 7th year and ran well at the level as an 8-yr-old in 2011, but we managed to have a 3 year setback, with first a suspensory, then the neck, and finally getting our feet wet again this past year. Now that we have bounced back, I’m ready to do whatever I need to, to give this horse a fair chance. We’ve already been given a second chance, against all odds; to let that go to waste would become the biggest regret of my life. Horses like Pirate come along once in a lifetime, if you’re even lucky enough to have one like him at all. He gives me all he has, absolutely everything in him. And it’s time I do the same for him.

PirateFrancisFrancis Whittington was kind enough to leave the UK for a week in December to coach me and Pirate…okay okay, I set up a 5-day clinic, so that’s why he was really here. But I like to think he was just here to check up on his favorite American TB, ol’ Bub The Scrub (sorry P), as I consider Francis largely responsible for why I didn’t have to give up on him in the first place. The lessons were incredible, and we made some pretty serious progress; Pirate could, in fact, be a lot fancier than I’ve known how to create on my own. And that made me start thinking…what would happen, exactly, if we had more than just the hit-or-miss lesson a few times a year? What could we accomplish if we actually got in a program with someone, instead of kicking along on our own? Of course I’ve thought about this before – but reality was, if I didn’t stay in Charlotte and run a business, I simply couldn’t afford to compete, or take care of this horse in the way he deserves. I didn’t have the funds, and I had to find them somehow. I built a business to finance a career. For a while, the best thing I could do for Pirate was figure out a way to pay for the things he needs, and the events I wanted to run with him. But now…it’s time I become the rider he deserves. My heart’s always been it 100% with this horse; but everyone has to put their money where their mouth is, sooner or later. I guess I just had to make it, first. ;)

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When all your hopes and dreams rest on this one horse…you wish on whatever you can.

I always said I’d go off and train one day; it’s easy to put things off to “one day.” But if you aren’t careful, you’ll wake up one morning to discover that one day was yesterday, and your life has left you behind in the dust of the dreams you once had.

So when I sat down in January to plan out my year (as much as you can plan anything with horses), I realized Pirate and I are in the wrong place for what we’re trying to accomplish, at least for now. It’s time to pick up, and move up – to Middleburg, Virginia. It’s always held my heart, since the days of driving around the back roads with my Godmother, for whom I owe all of this – the love for the horses, the hunger for success in the equestrian world, the drive to live my life in a way that would make her proud. I’ve spent the years since I lost her trying to find her…but she was right where I left her, all along.

I have my incredible fall/winter to thank for putting me exactly where I needed to be to come this decision, and all who were in it for helping me see that I really can do this – I really can uproot my life to chase my dreams with this one exceptional horse.  Every moment of your life plays into the next, and it’s fun to trace back the seemingly insignificant decisions you’ve made and see how you’ve ended up where you are. But this year is all about moving forward. I have no idea what’s to happen next – but do we ever, really? Maybe the beauty in life is in the not knowing, the mystery to what our futures hold. All I do know is that if you’re standing still, you’re moving backwards…because the rest of the world carries on, with or without you. So, as the snow melts and the winter wraps up, we’re due north. It’s time to spring forward, and make sure not to fall back – into bad habits, old ways, whatever it is that paralyzes us. Everyone has to make the jump sometime in their life – whether you’re like Pirate, hungry for it, or a little bit frightened by the unknown. Just remember:  Only the things that scare you, hold the ability to thrill you…if you’re wired like I am, anyway. So just kick on and keep the faith in whatever grand adventure your life will become…and whatever you do – don’t ever look back.

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5 Responses to Spring Forward

  1. David Fisher says:

    Kelsey, Will sent me the link to this to your website. You have grown up and I am impressed. Good luck with your move. It is always nice to see how you and Pirate are doing.

  2. kelly bauer says:

    You are an inspiration to us all sweet girl, young and old can learn a valuable lesson reading your “Spring Forward”. I wish you much success in all that you do!
    Kelly Bauer

  3. Meredith says:

    Please continue to keep us updated about where you will be competing and when you might be back in the Waxhaw area!

  4. Mike Dickhart says:

    I should have known, the first time I met you, on that cute little pony doing prelim, holding my breath over every jump, saying each time, that’s way too big for that little pony and that little girl, that you would grow up to be the awesome, inspiring, kind hearted person that you are, keep us posted on that wonderful life that’s ahead of you, and let’s thank Mom for being so supportive for you all these years, it sure paid off, didn’t it.

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