I am sitting on an airplane to Las Vegas. The couple next to me are in their 80s, and have been married for 57 years. He holds her hand while they snooze. A love like theirs is something we all should be so lucky to know.
My last week in Florida finished in typical whirlwind fashion. I made the brilliantly boneheaded decision to show Fender one last time on Thursday and Friday, with the plan of then packing Saturday and leaving Sunday, because there's nothing like trying to pack up your entire life to help you focus on a horse show.
We're down to the wire in Florida, with just days before my horses and I pack up and head home. And without fail, there's this sudden franticness, to get everything done, to see everyone, to cram in those last lessons. And last week was no exception.
I remember this one day. It was the summer of 2010. Midge was 8. And I got on, and I picked up the reins, and there he was. He was connected to my hand, hind legs, withers, bridle. He was balanced and organized. He was just THERE. He felt like an expensive FEI horse, and while he still made mistakes, still needed to develop in his strength and timing and coordination, still wouldn't do his first Grand Prix for two years, all of a sudden, he was there.
As a dressage trainer in Northern Virginia, I teach a lot of event riders. And I mean a LOT. Like my strictly dressage students, they run the gamut—from the grassroots to the international levels, beginner novice at the local combined test to Rolex. Some of them are better at hiding it, and some of them don't even try, but without fail, they have one thing in common: before they start riding with me, virtually all of them think that dressage is that thing that they have to suffer through before they get to the fun stuff.
The textbooks all say that we sit on the horse, we half halt, we soften, and voila! They make their way up the levels, learning the work. Here on planet earth, sometimes we have to get 'er done. Maybe we have to dig in and drive like hell for a few strides; maybe we have to hold a horse up for a while, until they can hold themselves up.
Our lives are busy, we equestrians. Whether we ride professionally or as amateurs, it's a sport that can't be played at our convenience, whenever we find a few minutes. A soccer ball we can just pick up when we can. We can go for a run anytime. Our tennis rackets don't need to be fed three times a day, nor does it cost much of anything at all to keep our bowling balls or surfboards healthy, trained and well cared for.
1. Above all else, know this: we want you to be successful. We want this for you because that's our job, of course—to produce successful students, at whatever "success" means to you. Whether winning the Olympics or just cantering two circles around without being afraid, we want you to Win at It. And if you doubt that we want you to win simply because its in our natures, consider this: happy clients are more likely to keep paying us, and more likely to tell others they should pay us. Happy clients = good business.