I’m happy to announce: I have managed to share a horse.
This doesn’t sound like an incredible feat, but oh. It is. If you’ve ever leased your horse out, if you’ve ever half-leased a horse with someone else, or if you’ve ridden a horse for a friend you’ll know the reality of the situation isn’t always hearts and flowers. Jealousy is likely laced into the fabric of your equestrian equation. Self-doubt and the fear of inadequacy are probably present, too. At least, that’s what I’d assume from my prior experience.
They’re ugly feelings. But sometimes the truth is ugly.
I’ve been documenting the chronicles of the horseless rider for some time now. Desperate to find something four-legged to climb on top of, I started perusing Facebook groups for possible rides. Mid-scroll, I stopped at a picture of a lovely bay gelding. His face was so sweet, luring me in with the promise of a velvet nose and perhaps a wonderful canter. Two things I desperately needed.
The woman who owns “Sam” had put out an ad for an intermediate-advanced rider with some dressage training. All of the above are qualities I happen to have in the bag, so I reached out to her. That was four, almost five months ago. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to head to her private farm once, twice a week and ride Sam.
Now, Sam isn’t the horse for everyone. His quirkiness is (almost) legendary, with a penchant for prejudice against Monarch butterflies, pine cones, and peeing in the lawn right in front of the arena. But hey, we’ve all got a getting ready routine, right? This beautiful, quirky, sweet gelding has his “mom”, who is and was generous enough to give me an opportunity to enjoy her horse.
I’ve always wanted to be the one and only who can ride a horse. They respond best to me, they look forward to me walking into the barn. What, can’t a girl be modest? Maybe I’ve grown up some, but there’s something incredibly soul-fulfilling in watching Sam’s eyes light up when he sees his mom. And how lucky am I to get to be a part of their world.
It’s difficult to let someone else in. It’s even more difficult to entrust your partner, your teammate, your confidant, your friend… I could go on, but we’re all aware of what our horses mean to us. Instead of my mind being filled with thoughts of self-doubt, inadequacy, or being second-best, I find more positive things replacing an older mentality.
Instead, my mind focuses on how to replicate an awesome schooling exercise I watch her ride first. I consider what kinds of positive observations I can offer her after we’ve finished a ride together. It’s a place of empowerment, and a place I never would have been able to visit without the humility of sharing someone else’s horse.
The truth of my situation, now, isn’t ugly. I know things are what you make of them. And so, it’s relevant to say here I wanted her to know how grateful I am. How appreciative I am that I get to enjoy “Super Sammie”, and watch their partnership develop further. The truth of my situation now is beautiful, replacing the desperation I felt without a regular ride.
We usually experience our equestrian journeys alone, focusing on our partnership with the horse. I’m lucky, grateful, and increasingly humbled by the opportunity to participate in someone else’s journey.