I know that you are dealing with some pretty big emotions. You see, I know that you are standing there in the shadow of what you once were. I know that many years have gone by since you have stood there at the in gate with your equine partner. I know that the last time you did this you were much younger, maybe a few pounds lighter, had the oblivious confidence that comes with youth, and I am sure that you had no idea that there would be so many horseless years between that kid and the you that is standing there palms sweating…heart pounding.
I see you. I see that what once came so easy is now a struggle. I know that there was a time in your life that this horse thing was second nature. You didn’t think a thing about hopping on your horse bareback in the pasture. Just you and your trusty steed, a halter and what seemed like miles of open field to run across.
You had no idea then that this horse thing is real work. Back then you could swing right up bareback from the ground. Now you need a tall mounting block and a horse who will stand politely while you struggle and pull yourself into the saddle. You apologize to him for being so uncoordinated and clumsy as you know that your horse is a saint for standing there when I am sure he wants to run far away from you.
I see you. Put in a full day at work and then head to the barn because you are determined to get back just a little of what the years have taken away from you. I know that riding is something that requires real work and dedication. I know that you get home from the barn dirty, exhausted and sore.
I also know that for as much as you doubt yourself and your ability, you have a great many successes. You frequently have rides where something is slightly easier than it was the last time you rode. I see how those small successes have a huge impact on your confidence.
I see how you are made painfully aware of what the passage of time has taken from you. I know that your body doesn’t move or feel like it used to. Where did your flexibility and balance go? I sure wish I could answer that for you. Time is a cruel mistress. She only takes and never gives back.
I see you in the walk trot class. I know that there was a time that you never would have imagined that walk trot would be “your thing”. The reality is that you don’t feel anywhere near ready to canter among your fellow show competitors. I know that there is a feeling deep inside that you are letting down that person from all those years ago. That person could run across a field bareback with nothing more than a halter, and here you are full western bridle, nice big comfy secure western saddle and a look of sheer terror in your eyes! I see you.
Yes, I certainly see you. You know how? Because I am you! I stand there before a Showmanship class with sweaty palms, a giant smile and tears in those glossy eyes! Yes, I am you. I am right next to you in that lesson where your biggest accomplishment is a rising trot for more than one lap of the arena. I know the pain of struggling to get into the saddle and stay there. I also know that the dismount is often harder than the mount. I don’t even know how that one is possible!
I am next to you in that walk trot class praying that my hunt coat doesn’t pop a button and that I can keep my horse between me and the ground! I am right there clapping when they call your number ahead of mine, because I know what that means.
We, you and I, waited a damn long time to have horses again and we deserve to know that there are others just like us who struggle with things that others seem to breeze through. Yes, I see you and you are doing an amazing job of following your dream. Hold on tight to those little successes because one day you will look back and see just how far you have come!
Next time you are standing at the in gate fighting back the happy tears waiting for your class to be called, I am there right with you! Look around, if you see me then flash me a big old smile and get out there and kick my butt. I’ll be rooting for you!