My business is a labor of love, an all engulfing lifestyle choice that necessitates the 12 sometimes 14 hour work days. Though physically exhausting, the lifestyle choices are rather easy to make. If anything needs to be done around the barn, I will be the first to get it done. The horses will be turned out, brought in, fed, bathed, ridden. The laundry will be done, it will be folded. The troughs, the buckets will be scrubbed. Sometimes the stalls will be cleaned or rebed. I never lament these choices for these are the simple, medial tasks that allow me to recognize each nicker, footstep and breath from the ponies in our barn.
In the whirlwind I neglect the unnecessary but mentally restorative tasks like this blog. I don't talk much about my back round but at one point I wanted to be a writer. I moved away from home and went to New York to study journalism. As uncomfortable as I am talking to strangers is as at home I feel with written words. This blog, my unrelated literary blog and the plethora of pages filled in the interim give me a quiet ease that I can't easily describe.
All of this longwinded introduction to distract myself from something so easily weighing in my mind: my right knee and its apparent flimsy meniscus. For those that know me, this isn't my first stint of knee complications (thank-you mother for bequeathing me with the apparent suckiness of patella). The immediate concern is my inability to bear weight. You know, since it keeps me from the aforementioned labors of love. My secondary concern is the criticism the accident has heaped upon my horse.
I should begin that it was Zis' matter-of-fact "I just jumped the standards" buck she gave me after our first meaty combination that solidified my assumption that she was my dream horse. Zis, lovingly called sassypants, is an opinionated and obstinate mare- it took a good year to get her light to the leg (thank-yous go out for so many important lessons on calibration to the leg). In the past, light leg and she would ignore you, spur she would defy you and simply go slower, a slap with the stick and she would kick out and spurn you. But her pure enthusiasm and athleticism over fences kept me hooked. Every since we began together she has a single buck after fences. If you find videos of her father, he bucked after fences. Heck, my absolute favorite PNW grand prix horse gives a haughty kick after a particularly great effort.
But it wasn't her quintessential buck after the fence that finally dislodged me, it was an out of the blue, basically in the middle of flat work to show a blatant state of pissed off that slammed my knee to the ground. Am I suppose to send her up the road because she pulled a "young horse" and did something naughty? A great cowboy taught me that correct training was as simple as making "the right thing easy, and the bad thing difficult" and I have managed to weave it through my day to day riding. Zis, you want to buck after a fence, well this bending line to the in and out might be kind of dicy but gosh darn, dig in and lets make it happen. That put quits to the bucking in a line. So time will tell with Saturday's antics but it is terrible science to make a generalization from one data point. In the meantime, there are great trainers and handlers to give me pointers.
Her blood and fiery temper makes her such a rocket in the ring and I don't think I can coerce her to loose her buck without sacrificing the very spirit that I think makes her great. Instead of this idea of "fixing" her it is up to me and the people I train with to help channel her fire. With every every fall comes a lesson learned and will take the little bit of rest to continue writing, reading and thinking.