Sunday, February 21, 2010


Tucker & I had a great jumping lesson yesterday.  Everything just clicked, and we easily jumped around a 3' course without any issues.  Just before we started jumping, Alicia told me "less is more."  And she was right.  All I really have to do is think about my position, especially where my hands are -- I need to elevate my hand, keep a relatively short rein, and keep my elbows bent and following.  As long as I keep myself in the right place and count the rhythm, Tucker basically takes care of the rest.  And when I land from the fence, I need to get myself back to that same position, regain my seat, bring my shoulders back, and elevate my hand.  Otherwise, if I stand in the stirrups and plant my hands on his neck (yeah, I know that's bad riding but for some reason my body persists in this ludicrous habit), Tucker gets on his forehand, leans against my hand, and then it's a struggle to get myself back in position while he's dragging me through the turn.  But if I put myself back in the correct position before the turn, Tucker keeps the same balanced canter and the tug of war never occurs.

I had a much longer post planned about this lesson, but some of my blog reading this week has made another topic seem far more important.  Some of my favorite bloggers, Eye on the Horse and Sweet Horse's Breath, were dealt some very difficult horse news this past week.  In addition, one of the boarders at my barn recently had to say goodbye to her horse Vince, who's made a couple of appearances on the blog.  I was going to post a little memorial about him but decided maybe it's not my place since he wasn't my horse.  I'm not sure, if I were in her shoes, whether I'd want that or not. 

Which got me thinking:  I could be in her shoes at any moment, and someday, I will be.  These big beautiful creatures are both incredibly strong and impossibly fragile.  The good ones, the ones that really steal our hearts, will do anything for us.  They love us regardless of our flaws, no matter how many mistakes we make.  They love us even though we're always running late, we sometimes show up right at dinner time, and we never get dolled up to see them.  If we disappear for days on end or even weeks, they love us even more when we show up.  They help us out of jams, sometimes performing feats nothing short of miracles, over and over again, and they never question or complain. 

And in return, we take the best care of them that we can.  We dote on them, keep their favorite treats on hand, groom the itchy spots a little longer, and kiss their soft noses.  We get them the best farriers, vets, chiropractors, accupuncturists, massage therapists, and all the best products that money can buy.  We keep them perfectly outfitted and buy anything we think might improve the quality of their lives even slightly.  We'll always manage to figure out a way to pay for something if we think they need it.  In short, we show them we love them every way we know how.

But sometimes, all the love in the world isn't enough.  Sometimes, taking the best care of them that we can means that we have to let go of them.  They are athletes, and like any sport, there's always a risk of injury.  So in order to do what we love, and let them do the jobs that they enjoy so much, we have to take that risk.  The best thing we can do is just be thankful for every day, every ride, every great lesson, and every special memory.  And most of all, be thankful to be a part of this very special partnership.

I don't mean to suggest that we don't appreciate our horses.  No one I know takes her precious equine friend for granted.  But in light of the fact that some of my friends have some incredibly difficult times ahead, I just thought it would be good for us all to remember how very lucky we are to have these amazing animals in our lives.  I've read more than once that our pets are one of life's biggest blessings, but it's one of life's biggest tragedies that we are destined to outlive them.  I hope that my friends who are going through such tragedy right now can find some of the blessings amongst the heartache.


  1. Horses are God's joke to us. Why else would we have a 1,200 lb marshmallow being held up by 4 toothpicks? I feel very lucky to still have my Gen around. As stressed as I am at the thought of moving him to a new barn at some-point I still feel very lucky to have that kind of stress in my life. I hope that you and Tucker never have to go through anything like Gen and I did. I want you two to have 20 more years cruising around 3' courses.

  2. "Grief is the price we all pay for love."
    I think this quote by Barbaro's owner sums it up perfectly. You are right. Its time to reflect on how lucky we are to have loved these amazing creatures.

  3. A very thoughtful post. I am thankful every day. While in all probability we will outlive our pets and horses, I have provided in my estate for the life-long care of my dogs and horse, in case they outlive me. My thought are with your friends as they go through this difficult time.

  4. I haven't looked at those blogs yet, but I will. It's something I worry about with Izzy all the time. She's so fragile; any one of a hundred things could go wrong at any time, and all of a sudden, she'd just be gone. There aren't any guarantees, so I'm just enjoying what time I have with her, and I hope it's a very, very long time.

  5. You just made me tear up at work...arrrghh...but I loved your post. Thank you for writing such a wonderful reminder. We do need to enjoy every ride, every lesson, every jump, every gallop because you just never know. I had no idea that the jumping lesson I took on my mare in September was my last one ever on her. Breaks my heart. It's not that we should live in fear of what could happen, but just not be so hard on ourselves or them day to day. I would encourage everyone to just enjoy the ride, literally... and dont buy more horses than you can reasonable afford in the good times AND the bad (that's the lesson I'm learning BIG TIME right now! Hello giant vet bills). Lots of love, thank you Marissa <3

  6. Beautifully said. I have a friend who is a therapist, recently she told me that physiologically, when we remember an event, our bodies literally process it as though it's happening again. When you remember hugging your horse, flying through the air (still in the saddle!) playing with your dog or cats, you're reliving them literally, all over again.

    I tried it deliberately over a horse I lost long ago, remembering key special moments, and I was shocked to *feel* his presence in my memory. Not sure that is how it works all the time, but it was a wonderful moment.

    Very lovely post.


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