My mare Kahlua. Photo by Cheryl

I board at a barn where I am the only dressage rider, the rest of entire barn is Quarter horses and Paints that participate in breed shows. My paint mare is 7 years and has been under saddle less than two years.

YEP!!! I drive everyone at the barn nuts. According to them, my horse should be “Finished” by now but we barely have any kind of canter; let alone a consistent, rhythmic, controlled, ground covering, deliverable upon request canter.

I have days where I set my mare up and ask for the right lead canter and it is delivered ever so light and brightly and then there are those days I get head slamming, counter something more like a jigging strange hopping canter. It’s a delight I never know what I’ll get.

Everyone at the barn seems to believe I am nothing more than a beginner rider with a too green horse and I have never done anything to correct this belief, at least to any of them. Why bother?

I’m over 50 and have been riding for a very very long time. I have successfully ridden upper levels on past horses. YEP!! I’m heading to my first show of the season and I am entered in walk trot classes.  I drive everyone crazy at my barn.

They don’t get it.

I do know one of the ladies riding the same test as us made a very successful run for the Olympics several years ago. YES!!! She is bringing a very green horse and yes, she is riding Walk trot. When the people at my barn heard this, they went nuts: “How can that be allowed? … She has no right to ride in a walk trot…” Sure, she does! And personally I’m proud of her; for us, it’s all about the development of the horse and not the outfit.

Everyone at the barn has been in show grooming mode.

Clipping, dying, stripping, bleaching, clipping, stripping clipping…………

They have been working night and day for weeks. I was done in one afternoon. I’ll bath just before I load. Touch up upon arrival and again the morning of.

We might ride a lousy test I don’t know.

I won’t come home with tales of someone running me into the rail, that someone had copied my outfit or how I was “screwed” out of points.  We will have been cheered on by someone we never met before; we will have the ability to hear the judge review each ride while we shared a potluck and a glass of wine.

As I was schooling my test the other night a delightful mother of a rider says very loud, “is that horse still in training”. YEP!! We will be in training forever!! We have so much more to learn than how to slow trot and tiny skip canter around the rail of an arena while the rider shows off very expensive outfits.

Someday we will dance and we will do it together.