This morning as we near the end of our first show season together I have been thinking a lot about Keno. I would guess that 99% of the advice I have received this summer has been people who are concerned that he is not the right horse for me or that he isn’t the horse that will help me achieve my goals. I get it, I am very open about our struggles. We do have our lions share of struggles, but that just makes our victories so much more sweet.
Earlier this year my trainer had a discussion with her mentor trainer and he assked, “who is more stubborn, your client or her horse?” She didn’t even hesitate, “My cleint, by a mile.” Now of course I am paraphrasing because I only heard of the conversation second hand, but the fact is that I am the stubborn one.
Many years ago I got married. I married a man who my friends and family didn’t much care for. On the day of my wedding I had more than one person try and talk me out of walking down the isle. It didn’t occur to me for a second that I was making the wrong decision, and 15 years later we are still plugging along. Perhaps we have made it because we are both to stubborn to give up when the going gets tough, and we have had our share of tough times for sure!
I veiw my relationship with Keno in much the same way I do my marriage. I married a man with a hair trigger temper who often made the impression of a chained pit bull, angry at the world but no way to deal with it. I knew his temper was nothing more than that of a barking dog, and I was right. He wasn’t the tyrant that most felt he was. Over the years people in my life have come to realized that he wasn’t exactly the person they thought he was. I always knew who he was and that is why I married him.
Keno is much like my husband. Resistant to change, prone to temper tantrums, obstinate and a little scary to those who don’t know him well. He is a challenge to say the least, but I have never been one to back down from a challenge so it makes perfect sense why I am drawn to Keno like a moth to a flame.
To those who are supporting me in this adventure it must be a lot like my friends and family on my wedding day….please don’t, please find someone more suited for you, just find a nice boy. My favorite recently has been, “find one who can help you achieve your goals”. This is the one that has me thinking. I don’t really have any concrete goals. Do others know something about me and my goals that I am not aware of? Truth is that I have been so stubborn with the idea that Keno and I are going to work that I have put any goals I may have once had aside.
As I sit here putting my rambling thoughts in some kind of order I am stuck at the thought that I don’t have any real goals with Keno. I once did, we were going straight to the worlds this year in western pleasure, it would be a meteoric rise unlike anything anyone had ever seen. We would be the best and people would worry when our trailer pulled into the show! Now can you see why I shouldn’t set goals? I don’t set little goals. I never have. I have always been the one to shoot for the stars.
The problem is that Keno isn’t like me in that respect. He got the memo, “you are going to be a world champion in western pleasure” and he immediately put that memo in the shredder! It is important to me that he not only does well, but that he enjoys this adventure that I take him on. He doesn’t enjoy western pleasure, he hates it.
So, I guess based on my pie in the sky unrealistic goal, yes Keno is not the horse who will take me there. But, much like marrying my husband, it was never just about me. I bought Keno because there was something inside me drawn to him. Just like my husband, it wasn’t love at first sight, it was an unexplainable connection that I simply couldn’t walk away from. And like my marriage it certainly hasn’t been smooth sailing and I am simply too stubborn to give up!
I guess this then begs the question of why. Well, the easy answer is that I don’t give up. Keno is not now nor has he ever been violent or mean, so aside from my being an all-over-again novice he isn’t a danger to me. So, if his worst offense is that he isn’t a western horse and he likes to challenge me then why the heck would I walk away from him now? So, we do stuff other than ride the rail with his nose in the dirt. I could have married a nice boring boy who has no fire in his belly, but I likely would have been bored by our first anniversary. Truth is I love fire in the belly, I have a bit of my own and I know that when two beings with their souls on fire come together it is magic.
To make a long story a bit longer…I understand the concern that comes from friends that Keno might not be the right horse for me. So, after a long morning pondering this exact question, I have had an epiphany of sorts. While he certainly isn’t the perfect horse for a beginner, he is the perfect horse for me. He lights the fire deep inside me. That fire burns so hot it is scary at times. He challenges me to do things that are so far outside of my comfort zone and yet he fully supports me while I am dangling over the cliff. He will never let me phone it in or get complaisant. Like me, he is easily bored. He knows that I will lose my spark quickly doing nothing but riding the rail with his nose on his knees. He knows that my comfort zone is nothing but an excuse, a safe and predictable place where risk doesn’t exist and ultimately a place where souls like mine go to die.
Is Keno the horse that will help be achieve my goals? Yes. He absolutely is. As long as I pick goals that are true to my authentic crazy self. Goals like competing in a hunter/jumper show this weekend. Goals like saying yes when friends invite me on a trail ride. Going to fun shows for the sake of having fun. Playing with cows and trail obsticals and anything else that pops up along the way. You see, I think I got so wrapped up in the idea of showing at the breed level that I lost some of what makes me, me. And with that Keno had to lose some of what made him, him.
At the end of this month, for the first time in the 2+ years I have owned him Keno will come home and we will be on our own. My promise to him was that we would spend the next few months playing. That no two days or adventures will be the same. We may go to a jumping show this weekend, an open show next, a fun show after that, a trail ride or two, maybe a ranch sorting as well. Keno and I will find a way to fan each other’s flame and we will show the world that he is the right horse for me.