Y’all are gonna have to put up with me being a sap for a minute. Sorry not sorry.
Henry went to his first event 3 years ago, at BN. I remember walking the course and looking at the Novice fences as we went past, horrified about how huge they looked. Not really just that they looked big, but more that it seemed so… BEYOND us. Light years beyond. I️ swore we’d never go Novice.
And then at Henry’s first Novice, at Texas Rose, I remember looking at the last fence that Prelim and Training shared, sitting next to our last fence, and feeling like it too was way beyond anything we could ever do, or ever be. Training was a fantasy, something that looked – from where I️ was standing at the time – like it was a whole world away. At that point I didn’t really even know if I wanted to get there, much less whether or not we could. When it seems impossible, it’s not something that even crosses your mind. You may as well have asked me if I wanted to go to the moon.
I guess I looked at the people and horses at that level and saw something that was way better than we were. Way better than we could ever even hope to be. After all, I’m a very very average rider just trying to make it work as best I can in our less-than-ideal circumstances, and Henry is a mentally scarred, crooked legged, unassuming looking horse. We’re as “mere mortal” as it gets.
Over time he showed me that he was more than worthy and more than capable, but I’ve always struggled to find confidence in my own ability. I got so caught up in how great other people were that I forgot we all have a different journey and we all take a different path. I had to stop living and dying by how I️ thought we compared to everyone else. Somewhere along the way I perfected the art of at looking at other people and seeing all the things that me and my horse are not. I’m not a 16yo kid with balls of steel and talent to spare. I’m not in a regular program. I don’t get many lessons. My horse is not fancy.
What I so often have failed to remember is that sure, I have it worse than some, but I also have it better than a lot of others. We all have advantages and disadvantages. We all have struggles. And for the love of god, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Trying to use someone else as a template by which to measure our own success is idiotic, at best. It makes a lot more sense to focus on what we can do and what we do have.
When we finally did officially move up to Training, it was on “home turf” courses. Places we’ve been a lot, and schooled a lot, and we were pretty comfortable at. This weekend was a lot different. We haven’t been to Texas Rose in two years, and we’ve certainly never jumped any part of the Training course. It was only our second recognized Training together, and it was big. It had some serious questions. It was not a gimme by any means. This was a real test… can we actually do this? Do we really belong here? This is supposed to be the impossible for us, isn’t it? That’s what I thought a year ago.
But this horse has, time and time again, made the impossible… possible. Henry rocked right around that course, one that not too long ago seemed so far outside of our wheelhouse that it may as well have been the Olympics, and it was a walk in the park. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more proud of a horse in my entire life. Holy shit guys. He is incredible. And WE DID IT.
I never really take the time to celebrate and appreciate these milestones. I’m more of the “that was cool… except for that mistake, or that fence, or that part of the dressage test. I need to do better.” type. We can have 17 out of 18 perfect jumps, and I always end up focusing on what I did wrong at that 1 bad one. Which is fine and all, when it comes to improvement, but I think I’m missing out on the sheer joy sometimes. I have a pretty amazing horse that allows me to do some pretty amazing things. I had The Best Time jumping stuff that was friggin BIG. But Henry made it feel easy.
So for today, I’m NOT going to recap the show and tell you all the things I could have done better and all the things we still need to work on. Today I’m giving myself the luxury of just being tremendously happy with how far we’ve come, how lucky I am to have such a badass horse and awesome friends, and how much fun I had out there yesterday. The rest of it can wait.