“There are moments you remember all your life, there are moments you wait for and dream of all your life, this is one of those moment…” That lyric from Yentl, the movie starring Barbara Streisand, pops into my head from time to time (It is a good thing for you that I am writing this, as I am not above belting it out and acting out entire scenes from this musical…). Recently I heard Jennifer Roth say to another rider during our clinic: “Every step belongs to you.” Those words floated around me like a mist, settling into every nook and cranny of my brain, and I could clearly see the transformation of Pippi and me, as a team.

When we first started, or even before that, when I was the show mom and just sat on Pippi from time to time, Pippi was so clearly in charge of each and every step. When I started really riding, we had a bit of a leadership battle. Pippi was in charge, and we both knew it. We also knew that this would have to change, but none of us knew how. I worried about what this shift would do to us; could we still have fun and be us if I bossed her around? Would Pippi resent it?

My secret fear was that Pippi would shut down, and shut me out, and that I would no longer feel a closeness to her. I realize that to some this will sound totally ridiculous, but I don’t care. Once I started to “hear” Pippi, I was loath to lose that, and yet I wanted us to grow as a team. I made the decision that if I ever felt that our training was driving a wedge between us, something would have to change. My closest friends heard me ponder and question, and more than one remarked that this sounded just like a parenting problem. I admit to not liking this, as I really hate it when someone calls me Pippis “mom.” (I have two kids! Pippi is my partner, my teammate, my four legged side kick.)

Pippi and I - one year apart.

Pippi and I – one year apart.

But as I sat there watching this lesson, with “every step belongs to you” bouncing its way around my noggin, I realized that we had freaking done it. Pippi and I had come out the other end, and we were okay. We had realigned our partnership, and we were still intact. She is still a silly mare with strange rules like “two feet = one treat” and she still piaffes on her own when excited. I still insist on hugging her too long, and she is still smarter and knows first when the hug should be over. I still sing to her, and a portion of the same song lends itself quite well if you change “Papa” to Pippi.

I remember, Papa Pippi – everything you taught me

What you gave me, Papa Pippi

Look at what it’s brought me!

Looking back I feel a little foolish, but I blame it on that nervous feeling everyone gets in a new relationship. Is she going to still be my friend if I show her my bossy side? Can you be respected and loved all at the same time? Turns out you can, if you are willing to wait, be patient and always do everything from a place of mutual respect. Pippi and I are not the same, things have changed, and I will not claim that our relationship is better. It’s just as good, but in a new and working way. I still hear her, and sometimes she still gives me some ‘tude, but we are team with me as the team leader.