Thursday, March 9, 2017

Life is Horses, Horses are Life

Day in and day out I tell myself it will all be worth it. Long days, up early, to bed late, filling my days with work and horses. Somewhere along the line I figured out that horses was what I wanted to do with my life, and it is what my life has become. My student workers and coworkers are always surprised when I tell them "Oh I rode 4 horses this morning." or "Quick and I did a 100 mile ride over the weekend." Sometimes they are surprised at my dedication. I think at times they find it weird. That is okay, I am used to it. I was always that horse crazy kid in school. I tried to be normal for a little bit, then I got my first horse. The whole being normal thing was over then.

Last year was a bad year, for so many reasons. Then to put icing on the cake I broke my collarbone when my horse fell on course. He is fine, and I think I am mostly fine now. I wasn't for a while. Yes I was back to riding as soon as I could put the saddle on him (3 days later) and never stopped working horses or riding. I wasn't able to finish my endurance season on Quick, I actually hardly rode him at all after Santiam. The training business slowed down during the holidays, my truck needed a new fuel injector pump and I had to take time off work because I was in a sling. I battled with depression. I was not myself.

A switch flipped right after my first long slow distance ride on Quick to bring him back into work. I wouldn't let myself worry about how I was going to find the money to take him to the Appaloosa National Championship Endurance Ride in October (Also Arabian Distance Nationals as he is half Arabian!) We were going to get there. I have picked out a 100 mile ride for him to do, my goal last year was to get us both to 1,000 miles. We are so close! So that is the goal for this year. Another 100 miler under our belt and the Distance Championships. If we can squeeze in another ride or two I will. My long term goals for Quick are silver level 100 mile (7 completions), we got our bronze level with 3 100s last year. And I want a decade team award. It is when you complete 10 seasons together. We have 4. We will get there.

While I was recovering from my collarbone, Diesel and I really began to work on our dressage. I decided to shoot for first level in the spring. Next weekend we have a schooling show, our debut at 1st level. I would also like to move up to novice with him, I know he has all the jump in the world, and novice is only 3 inches higher than beginner novice. Slightly more technical on cross country but nothing he cannot handle. Our big issue is we live in Oregon. I see photos of my friends back east schooling cross country on nice dry ground. The field I use as an outdoor arena in the summer is practically under water right now. Now he does need to school water jumps, but not like that. Hopefully we can get a lot of cross country schooling in during the spring. I will save my pennies so we can do the recognized at Inavale again, even if it is just beginner novice. My long term goal for him is a long format novice. (or training level, but novice is an easier target) The only only in the area is at Rebecca Farm in Montana. I have to complete 4 Novice events (or higher) to qualify. As Inavale is the only event in Oregon, I will have to travel to Washington. If I can play my cards I can do 2 recognized this year. If not, then I will save up for next year. It may take me two or three years to qualify for the long format, but that is my goal. Why not combine eventing and endurance into one show? I think it ends up being less than 10 miles total, a walk in the park. However Diesel will need to learn how to jump steeplechase fences at speed. We will work on that later.

In the meantime I am learning more about trimming hooves and looking into learning how to nail on composite shoes. All the while running a small training business. I have been lucky this past year to have had good horses to work with. A number to start, retrain and condition. I still work a full and part time job, along with keeping my own horses fit so I can only take on a limited number of training horses. I am not sure how I manage to do everything, but I find a way.
As Denny Emmerson put it, "Life is horses, horses are life."