Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I've been trying and trying for the past week to get the last instalment of my My Friend Princess written and posted but this morning I woke up and realized that it just isnt going to happen, I'm sorry (in my head I like to pretend like 1) there is someone reading this 2) that someone was eagerly awaiting my last instalment and 3) that someone actually gives a flying rat's ass that it isnt coming! Please dont burst my bubble).

I am a little disappointed because the title of my post was going to be "How I try to make my horse love trust me!" which was so exciting because in I've always wanted to try that thingy where you put a line through a word... though in my head I always envisioned applying it in such away that it produced something infinitely more amusing.

I was feeling really smart about that and was going to share with you how to do it today but I cant seem to get blogger to allow me to show the little bracket thingys... which kinda deflated my feeling smart:( <---- not a sophisticated insert

Anyways, so the reason why I am not going to get that post finished is because...

*drum roll please*

I am leaving for Europe in 2 days!!!

*super geeky happy dance*

This trip is one that I've been dreaming of for basically my entire life and this week it is finally happening!!!

*resisting the temptation to insert another happy dance*

I will be going to:

London, England
Rome, Italy
Messina, Sicily
Istanbul, Turkey
Ephesus, Turkey
Chania, Greece
Rhodes, Greece
Athens, Greece
back to Rome...
Traveling up through Italy from Rome to Bogonia
back to London

Aww to hell with it...

*happy dance*

*happy dance*

*happy dance*

Arrivederci! My friends!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dont Overthink It or Anything...

I finished my last post with the following:

"Over the past few months Princess and I have developed one of the best relationships I've ever had with a horse and it continues to grow with every ride. It doesn't make my heart pound or my blood come fast. But it is, nonetheless, deeply satisfying...

...There is more to come next post on what happened once I tried to win my mare's mind instead of her heart."

...to win over my mares mind instead of her heart.

... to win over...

I realize now that "to win over" has been the driving force behind my relationship with horses. I constantly seek to not only feel that special and, most importantly, mutual "connection" but to have it demonstrated by my horse in their actions and manners. In the past I've driven by the need to have my horse love me. I find the truth in those words uncomfortably deep. I'm almost embarrassed to admit how deeply in my pysche that river runs, how strong it's current have propelled my truest self, not just in horses, but in life. My hopelessly romantic soul wants nothing more than to be "the one" to that horse and I think I have always secretly been disappointed that none of my horses have looked at me in the truest sense of that way, I've also not-so-secretly envied those who's horses do look at them that way. The irony is that I know better. I've watched all the same clinics and read all the same books! I have a pretty good handle on how the horses psyche works, how to read their body, their intent... how to manipulate it- the basics of "natural" horsemanship. What my mind knew and what my heart had accepted where two different things.

The greatest lesson I've learned in the past year, as bitter as it may sound, is that a horse doesn't need to love me to want to work for me or to respond in a way that I once interpreted as demonstrating love (ie the desire to be with me). Thus is also true that when my horse doesn't work for me it isnt because she doesn't love me. For example, my greatest pet peeve is a herdboundness. To say it is a pet peeve is an understatement. It makes me immediately and thoroughly irate. I cant stand a herdbound horse. I now know why... because I take it personally. It is the ultimate insult to a a wanna-be-loved-horseman. Logically I know why a horse becomes herdbound and I even have a few tricks to help them overcome their herdbound behavior. But I found herdboundness to be a great emotional disappointment, it was so contrary to everything I ever wanted to feel from a horse.

I know that I said today I would write more about how I changed rather than why I changed but I guess I just wasn't finished digging deeply enough in this shamefully overly-thought-out emotional aspect of the "click". I used that word "click" too loosely. In my heart "click" means... It means the sound made when two perfectly shaped pieces of a puzzle are joined together- the sound made when they snap in to place. I was seeking the perfect marriage... rather than the marriage that is perfect for me (borrowed from my friend, the infinitely wise, L.)

More soon.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Friend Princess- Part 2

If you didnt read the first half of this story please check out this link My Friend Princess.

I finished off that post with this question: "So which is more important to me- the bond or the ride?"

The question might sound simple but at it's root it is probably the most fundamental question you could ask a horseman- Why do you have horses? For sport, recreation, as pets or all of the above?

I have never been so unsure of my own answer as I am now. In the past I valued, above all else, the bond. I was raised on books and movies like The Black Stallion, My Friend Flicka (hence the title "My Friend Princess"), Sylvester and Wild Hearts Cant Be Broken wherein the bond between horse and rider created a near mythical ability to overcome all obstacles, against all odds. As a child I didnt pin horse calendars on my wall, draw horses all over my binder, or run around a field on my invisible pony because I dreamed of being a champion barrel racer, show jumper or real-life cowgirl. I dreamed that I would have a horse so amazing, a horse to whom I was so profoundly connected, a horse that was so completely devoted and willing to work only for me that together we could do anything including becoming a champion barrel racer, show jumper and real-life cowgirl. I believed in the bond.

For the better part of the time I've owned Princess I've been hung up on the issue that her and I dont have that special connection, that I just dont feel "it". Dont get me wrong, I really did have a soft spot in my heart for Princess, she is a hard mare not to love but it wasnt that... that... you know? That thing?

Princess is a bit like dating that guy who is funny, smart, good looking, great to be around and dangit if he doesnt treats you like gold to boot. He is a great guy.... but....he sure the hell aint that tall slim nameless cowboy with the dark roaming eyes and smooth drawl you two-stepped with all night long that time at the Vermillion Fair. Sure that cowboy might float the ol'boat but he sure as shit isn't going to be there in the morning. As my good friend Barbie once said, "A cowboy is only good for one thing- the weekend." Almost all the horses I've owned in the past ten years have been cowboys... they swept me off my feet only to dump me on my ass... left me with nothing but a few short memories, a nasty hangover and a suspicious rash. *ehem* sorry, got a little carried away with that purely hypothetical analogy there.

Princess is that good ol'boy who smart girls marry.

I'm not going to lie, in the past I've not been a very smart girl.

But I like to think I'm a little older... and wiser...

So I make a decision. I decided to keep Princess. I let go of that whole notion that I needed an organic spiritual connection. I thought I was giving something up. But instead I discovered something that will forever change the way I relate to my horses.

It isnt romantic.

It isn't magic.

It isn't clandestine.

It is simple- mutual respect and trust.

Over the past few months Princess and I have developed one of the best relationships I've ever had with a horse and it continues to grow with every ride. It doesn't make my heart pound or my blood come fast. But it is, nonetheless, deeply satisfying.

I started writing this post because I wanted to put down in to words the evolution of my relationship with Princess. I wanted to remember this time and share it with anyone who might be also be trying to find a balance between the dream of a horse like Flicka and the reality of a horse like Princess.

There is more to come next post on what happened once I tried to win my mare's mind instead of her heart.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My Friend Princess?

It was this week last year that I first spotted the craigslist ad for my sweet mare Princess. Within a week I had gone to see her and by the fifteenth of September she was mine. I was not in love with her or anywhere close. She wasnt my "type". I hated her color. I wasnt crazy about her conformation. I figured that in one year, when Abby came home, I could send her down the road without a tear and with free conscience as I would have put time and training to her that would give her a better chance for a useful life down the road. One year of riding later.... And boy have I learned a thing or two about what I like in a horse. I still dont like her color. And not just because it is impossible to keep clean.

I still have to turn a blind eye to her conformation and the way it makes her body move, (athletic is about the last adjective that would come to mind). BUT I have gotten more "use" out of this not-so-pretty mare in one year than I have out of all the horses I've owned in the past ten years, combined. 'Pretty' really is, as pretty does.

When I started riding Princess I had a set of hard and fast rules that I felt were non-negotiable. For example: I dont feed treats and I especially dont feed treats out of hand. I dont get off and lead my horse over an obstacle she wont cross. I dont use bribes. I do not coo lovey-dovey "goood girrrrl, what's a sweeeet goooood girrrrl" to my horse and I especially do not do so when trying to coax her through a sticky situation.

I feed Princess treats, out of my hand. I get off and lead her over obstacles she wont cross. I bribe her. I coo lovey-dovey words, especially when I'm trying to coax her over a sticky situation. I did not begin to use the above tactics because I "love" her and she has turned me in to a softy. Oh contrare!

For all the use I was getting out of Princess I was still planning on selling her come September for no other reason other than the fact that I could not seem to develop that bond. I had days where i thought I might just be falling in love with her but then that feeling would seem to fade overnight.... and not because of a bad experience. We just didnt "click".

Not only did we not "click" but it really seemed like she did click with the lady I board off of, who I'll just call L.. You see, L and Princess had this bond... Princess would walk right up to her in the field to be caught and then seemed happier with L under saddle. Princess would relax and respond to L better than to me so much that I actually encouraged L to ride her more and we even talked of her buying Princess. I didnt resent that bond at all, I envied it.... because it is exactly that "special connection" or "click" that I have been trying to find for years now. I always thought that it was just something that was there, or not.

The time came for me to make a decision. Sell Princess or not. The answer wasnt simple. I still had so much room to grow on Princess. I still loved riding her. We still had years of good riding a head of us. But we had no bond. So which was more important to me? The bond, or the ride?

More soon.