The Reality of Schooling

The Reality of Schooling

Schooling is a complicated beast.

On one hand, you need to have a schedule, a plan.

On the other, you need to be flexible and adapt to your horse.

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Today was a complicated day in of itself. I knew I wanted to have a pretty hard work day as I felt like I’d been slacking lately. We’ve been doing a lot of hacks and bareback rides the past few weeks. Luckily, Beau has two other riders that work him hard as well, but I have to keep up too!

My plan was to work on bending and rating, as in extending and collecting the gaits. This way I had a loose idea of what I wanted to do, but I could choose my specific exercises depending on how he felt.

We got sidetracked. Of course.

When we got in the arena, two of my friends were just finishing up riding and left right after I picked up the trot. This is, of course, Beau and my’s weakness.

He gets spooky and hyper (no, don’t leave me friends!!) and I get nervous because I overthink what would happen if I fell off without anyone with me. We play off each other and get nervous and tight. Then it’s very hard to get a good ride, or any working ride at all, really.

So, our plan changed from bending and rating to using bending and rating to keep both of us focused and forward.

Step 1: Work on the far side of the arena.
Specifically, away from the spooky arena door where the horses leave.

  • Walk: work on bending, using leg yields and playing with the reins to keep him focused (literally jiggling them). I don’t use that a lot, but it helps him focus and me relax.
  • Trot: work on transitions for rushing using 5 steps walk and 7-14 steps trot, increasing more trot steps as he relaxed. Work on consistency by pushing him forward when he sucked back and half halting when he rushed.
  • Canter: push him forward and actually get him to go one way, try to hold him back the other. Because logic.

Step 2: Switch to the near side of the arena.

  • Walk: get him to go forward. Because he’s a big-A horse who is a jerk when he decides to just stop. Also, I have little legs!
  • Trot: Hey, hey, we’re going forward now! Work on bending and pushing him forward. Half halts and MORE LEG!
  • Canter: Bend and go forward. Bend and go forward. We did it – yay!

So, did we accomplish what I wanted? Yeah, we did.

Did we accomplish it the way I had in my mind? No.

Schooling will leave you glowing with happiness (ex: jumping like a boss, nailing lead changes, etc.), crying with frustration (the bucking bronco, the gross eq, or the FALL), or just feeling average (most days, let’s be honest).

The reality of it is – it’s going to be different everyday. Sometimes it’s going to be awesome, sometimes it’s not.

Expecting perfection every ride will lead to heartbreaks and headaches, but staying flexible and adaptive will allow you to get the most from your horse AND your ride. Remember schooling is for making mistakes. There’s no judgment for a bad ride. Everybody has them!

Coming Home

Coming Home

Tomorrow, I’ll be leaving the campus of my current college, let’s call it College A for now, for the last time. I’ll make the six hour long drive home with my mom and grandma, who are the absolute best for coming to get me. In case you didn’t know, this was my freshman year of college. So, the question begs, why am I not coming back to College A?

I chose to go to College A for a few reasons.

One, I love to travel, and I wanted to go out of state for a while, kind of learn who I am when I’m not with my family (Now: I hate not being with my family and friends).

Two, it was a good choice for my intended major, global studies and/or political science (Now: I’m studying marketing).

Three, I loved the campus (Now: Don’t visit college campuses when school is not in session. The people make the campus).

So, as you can see, my reasons for choosing College A in spring 2016 are no longer valid in spring 2017. There were also a couple of other reasons as to why I wanted to leave, but those aren’t things I want to talk about on here.

This brings me to College B. Ironically, in spring 2016, I was adamant I didn’t want to attend College B. All – well, most – of my family had gone there; it was too close to home; I wanted to be different. Blah, blah, blah, basically I was stubbornly against what my family wanted, even though they had the best of intentions.

So why did I choose to transfer to College B? Well, for one, it is very close to my family. One of the original reasons why I shied away from it, this is now one of the most important aspects of College B. Then, there’s also the fact that it is one of the best colleges in my state, and I can get a great education there. And lastly, what you’ve all been waiting for, it brings me closer to my horse.

So, how does all of this relate to this blog, which is pretty obviously an equestrian one? Well, College A had a lot of things. It also lacked a lot of things, one of which was my horse. I honestly believe that if I had had my horse with me, I would have stuck it out at College A. No matter how stressed you are, no matter how much crap you go through, if you have your best friend with you, you can survive anything.

Today, someone on social media asked the question, “If you had to describe the feeling you have when you’re with your horse, what one word would you use?” Now, obviously, there’s a lot of answers you could use. Some of the ones in the comments included: free, happy, euphoric, confident, and more.

But there was one word that stuck out in my mind: home.

What is it about a horse that makes you feel like you are home? What makes you feel as if you never left? Is it the bond between horse and rider? The gentle nudge of a muzzle on your shoulder that seems to say, “It’s okay, I still love you,” no matter what happens? Is it the wonder that such a wild and huge creature could come to completely trust you, a human, who makes mistakes, who screws up, who asks why they’re different from everybody else?

Perhaps it’s because when you are with a horse, you are stripped down to your most basic form. There is no College A or College B, or stress at school, or work, or home. There’s no hating on yourself (at least there shouldn’t be!), no wondering why you’re different, no time to think the deep thoughts.

There’s only you. The horse. The communication and bond. The original survival instincts to run faster, work harder, push yourself more but to know when to slow, steady, and rest.

So, what does College B have that College A doesn’t? I think it’s a home. Whether that’s my family, my friends, or my horse, I know that I’ll be better off having found my home, even if it took me a year to realize that my home was really my home all along!