It has been nearly a year since The Mare and I took a lesson.
When we were at Otterbein – especially our last summer when we were prepping for shows – we were lessoning minimally on a weekly basis, but it was common for us to take multiple lessons in a week.
Before I moved for vet school, I squeezed as many lessons as I could into the last week we were there, not knowing exactly what our instruction would look like in the future. I knew I wouldn’t have a ton of extra time or money, so lessoning wasn’t high on the list of priorities.
What I didn’t know was that we would spend the next year in and out of long period of stall rest. While I was wrestling with my first year of vet school, my mare was suffering through injury and illness, leading to more time on stall rest than not.
During that time, I learned a lot of lessons outside the 4 fences of an arena.
I learned a ton about the bond that my horse and I have, even when all I can do for her is clean her stall and bring her hay, brush her and hope she understands my reassurance.
I learned more than I ever wanted about her ailments (I believe she was just trying to supplement my veterinary education, and while I appreciate her sentiment, I would also appreciate if she would leave the vet med topics to the vet school and the patients there).
I learned about some of the more political aspects of the equine veterinary field, which I knew I would eventually have to face in my future career, but had not seen myself.
I learned about the importance of having support from family and friends, fellow equestrians, and my barn family being monumental when things were tough.
I learned how to rehab a horse and bring them back into work on the flat and over fences – a process I had seen many times but had not experienced myself.
I learned patience, over and over and over again. With each setback, I was forced to re-evaluate the goals I had for my horse and I. I had to re-evaluate what was important. We went from tearing around 3’6″ courses to praying that my horse would be healthy and sound to be ridden again. Our only long-term plan was to get back to work, eventually. Beyond that, I took everything day-by-day, because everything kept changing so quickly.
I learned to be thankful for things I’d taken for granted: a healthy, happy horse. Being able to watch her go outside to her pasture and roll around in the grass. Being able to tack up my horse and hack around.
After we were finally settled and cleared to go back to work, I learned again how tolerant and willing my horse is, and how wonderful her work ethic is.
And while I am grateful for many of the lessons we had to learn the hard way this past year, we are *definitely* ready to move on…which meant it was time to resume lessons inside the sandbox.
Our Trainer here is an eventer, which I think is going to be a different, but good, perspective for us. For the first time, my mare was complimented on her flat work (“she would get good dressage scores”) – something we have worked hard on, but being surrounded by much larger, fancier warmbloods in undergrad, my little mare’s footwork was not dazzlingly spectacular in comparison.
We spent the next hour hearing a lot of familiar quips, which was oddly comforting. We still have the same problems as we did last year, but at least we haven’t gone backwards…we are ready to pick up right where we left off. This lesson was just a chance for our new trainer to get a feel for the both of us, but I am so excited to continue working with her, and getting The Mare back to it. (Trainer is pushing hard to convert us to eventers; I’m a bit of a chicken with solid fences but in the little dabbling in dressage and cross-country schooling we did at Otterbein, I know The Mare would love it).
The jumps weren’t big, my eye is still quite rusty and The Mare still isn’t quite totally in shape, but it feels great to be learning in (and out) of the arena once again.