We all grew up singing the Alphabet Song when we were kids. Now that I am (chronologically) grown up, and as horse crazy as ever, here is a new take on the alphabet and how it applies to my riding life:
A — is for “Again!” It is the battle cry of my trainers.
B — is for “besties.” All of mine are at the barn, some with two legs, and some with four.
C — is for “cat.” Pepper, the rescued retired barn cat really is the best. She sleeps on my pillow every night.
D — is for “dapples” and “drama.” May our barn life be full of the former, and free of the latter.
E — is for “evenness.” May I remember to do all our exercises equally to both the left and the right, so Charlie stays equally balanced on each side.
F — is for “fit.” May Charlie’s tack always do so comfortably. And may both our physical conditions be considered so.
G — is for “ground poles.” May we successfully do the complex patterns and exercises that have provided challenge and inspiration through the long and bitter winter.
H — is for “happiness.” We love our horses because they make us happy, and Charlie is no exception.
I — is for “impulsion.” Here’s to that magical moment when Charlie steps fully under himself to move forward. The feeling is more addictive than any drug.
J — is for “jumping.” May we remember that the jump is simply another canter stride.
K — is for “karma.” I’m a firm believer that barn favors done for others from a place of gratitude and honesty will come back to me when I need them, like the bran mash and electrolyte treat so generously provided to Charlie when our temperatures have dropped to single digits.
L — is for “learning.” May I come to know as much about horses and riding as my various clinicians and trainers have forgotten.
M — is for “mirrors.” They will show me my true position, not just what I think it is, so I can connect what I feel and what I see.
N — is for “nicker.” May that low rumble always greet me as I approach Charlie’s stall, and not just because I have treats in my pocket.
O — is for “optimism.” May Charlie and I always expect the best of each other, and may we always deliver, regardless of the presence or color of any ribbons.
P — is for “practice.” We will practice not just until we get something right, but until we can’t do it wrong.
Q — is for “questions.” I have learned the answer to a thousand, and I’m certain I will ask at least a thousand more before the show season is done. Hopefully none of them will be dumb questions, but I’m willing to risk it.
R — is for “rhythm.” May it never be confused with tempo again, and may both be ever smooth and consistent.
S — is for “spurs.” May I ride in them without ever leaving a mark on my horse.
T — is for “transitions.” May we execute them crisply at the letter, each and every time.
U — is for “urban.” We have the unique opportunity to experience this equestrian adventure in an urban location, right in the middle of a major city. Maybe relish the dichotomy, and make the most of our unique location.
V — is for “video.” It is a merciless feedback mechanism, but there is none more honest.
W — is for “winter.” May it be over soon before Charlie and I both go crazy from going in circles in the same space for months.
X — “X” marks the spot. May we hit it, stop squarely, and salute crisply before each test.
Y — is for “youth.” I love watching my daughter fall in love with horses like I did when I was younger.
Z — is for “zen.” It’s that feeling that all is right with the world. I strive for it when I meditate at home each morning. It’s how I actually feel when I get to the barn and ride.