Saturday, May 31, 2008

Thoughts that go through my head during my not-so-fine moments while riding Mae:

  • OMG what would her owner think if she could see me right now?

  • Must. Lose. Weight. Immediately.

  • How funny is it that I once daydreamed about taking her to some schooling shows this summer?

  • Thank god I had the sense to continue with my lessons at the other stable.

  • What if she goes lame and I don't notice because I'm clueless so I ride her anyway and make it worse?

  • Maybe my problem is that the saddle is too small for me. Or too slippery. Or not shaped right. One of those, anyway.

  • I remember being a fearless rider when I was a kid. What the hell happened to me?

  • Wish I could ride an older, more bombproof horse.

  • Am I being heavy-handed and hurting her mouth?

  • I bet she'd go like a dream for a better rider.

  • Seriously. When do I even have time to eat enough to be carrying this extra weight?

  • Not going to fall off not going to fall off not going to fall off not going to fall off not going to fall off not going to fall off

  • I wonder if my photographer friend is good enough to make me somehow look decent while riding.

Ah, well. At least I'm riding. And I promise it's not always that bleak!

Friday, May 30, 2008

What is a re-rider?

I’m new to the world of horse blogs and therefore have only recently discovered there is a term for the type of rider I am: re-rider. As in I grew up riding but then let the horsey world lapse for a while before returning to the saddle as an adult.

Being a re-rider is a humbling, challenging, and difficult experience. It’s also something of a relief, like I haven’t entirely forgotten who I am or who I once was, as well as a reminder that it’s never too late to pursue an activity you love.

In my own experience, being a re-rider means showing up to group lessons as the only adult with a bunch of 13-year-olds…and then to discovering all too quickly that those 13-year-olds are way better riders than you. Or it means feeling embarrassed about forgetting simple things about riding or horse care that someone who spent years in stables should really know. Or feeling regretful at how much time you wasted not riding, and wistful when imagining how much better you’d be if you never left or came back earlier. It means feeling guilty for essentially turning your back on something you once loved more than anything, and being hopeful that the horses and trainers and fellow riders in your life now will accept you, even with all your flaws.

Sometime soon I'll share my specific story of how I came into the horse world, the heartbreaking way I left it, and how I found myself right back in the saddle again. For now, I’m thrilled the term “re-rider” exists because it means I’m not alone. Lots of other riders leave for some reason or another but cannot resist the pull to come back. I’m glad to join those ranks.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Not My Mae

Mae is a beautiful, well-trained, energetic, obedient and affectionate 9-year-old quarter horse mare. She leans into the curry brush when I groom her, she makes happy horse sounds when she sees me (or the carrots) coming her way, and she always gives me this look when I comb her mane, like, "Thank goodness it's just us girls and we can focus on looking pretty." Yeah, she's an awesome horse. But she's not mine.

I'm leasing Mae for the summer while her owner is traveling out of the country. And frankly, while I was thrilled to have stumbled onto this great deal of leasing her for next to nothing, I never would have thought I'd be daydreaming about owning her. At least not this soon. The reality is, at the end of the summer, Mae's owner will (most likely) return and I will end the lease. On the other hand, the owner may might want to keep the lease going because she doesn't have much time to ride Mae. The owner might even be interested in selling her, especially if she has to go overseas again anytime soon.

But here's the deal: I work full-time in a corporate setting. The job, while stressful and time-consuming, is awesome, and as much as I daydream about quitting and moving to a ranch in Montana, I realistically need to rack up some more experience in this field. And besides the job, I'm also a struggling fiction writer (several published short stories under my belt; lots and lots and LOTS more rejections), a full-time best friend and significant other to the guy who lives with me, a volunteer and someone who at least tries to exercise and stay in shape. That doesn't leave me a lot of time for ... much of anything. Yet I seem to be making time for Mae.

I admit that things were hard with Mae at first when I started riding her, and I can't blame her -- it was all me. I'm still rough around the edges in my riding, despite practically growing up while on horseback. But now that I'm finally in a rhythm of riding her several times a week, things are getting better. Not great, but better. And I can only imagine by the end of the summer, things will be even better. And then I'll probably have to say goodbye to her.

In any case, in this blog I will document my insecurities, crazy thoughts, mistakes, successes and mess ups and everything in-between as I try to do good by Mae and be a decent riding partner for her this summer. You'll also hear me whine about how I just can't seem to commit to owning my own horse right now, no matter how much I want one; how I feel totally unpolished and sometimes too fat to ride; that I'm overcome with guilt that I'm riding instead of writing; that I wonder if I'm regressing by this sudden, strong and persistent emergence of my childhood love of horses; and all sorts of other fun stuff. Wish me luck.