Stepping back into the tack

A year ago I was cautiously walking the line of making riding a more consistent part of my life. A couple years prior to this I had begun taking lessons again with the use of a school master and a great coach. While this was a very positive experience, once a week lessons were an allowance to dilly dally in casualty. I think beneficial for that point in my life, but I consistently was aware of a determined lack of commitment under the surface.

To be frank: I wasn’t even sure if I wanted or could commit to the world again. The simple act of taking lessons again often felt too much, and there were many lessons cancelled simply because I couldn’t be motivated to get there. I was burnt out in many other areas of my life, and there were still shadows of burn out present left over from my earlier riding years.

Last winter I began hacking horses for a client and friend of mine that owns a large sales and training barn. It was a low pressure addition to the weekly lessons at the other barn and a chance to reconnect with the training side of my riding skillset. Shortly after taking this on I left for our New Zealand holiday, and returned to a totally different world. The lessons faded away with Covid chaos, but I remember vividly seeing my client/friend posting about a up and coming sales prospect she’d had around her crew for a few years already coming back into work.

Benjamin had popped up and caught my eye previously, but this time seeing him made me want to know more. Because I already had the opportunity to be riding some of the horses at the facility I asked for him to be one I worked with, if it was suitable. In May of 2020 I was introduced formally to a 18hh+, scruffy, suspicious, and gangly young Benjamin and quickly found him to be a motivator to get out to the barn more.

From spring through summer I was able to work with Benjamin a few times a week, beginning to see leaps and bounds in him every time I went out. It became very hard to think about someone else purchasing him, as he was actively for sale at the time, both because he is not the most orthodox horse around and because I couldn’t imagine someone else matching with them. Even still, I was holding back. I had the sense that this was the match for me, but I wasn’t looking for a match at the time (consciously, anyway). Logic kept me from leaping at the chance to commit fully, and I transitioned slowly into part boarding Benjamin more formally (even though everyone at the barn already considered him to be “my” horse).

By late fall that attitude began to change and by Christmas I gifted myself arranging a purchase agreement for the now handsome and demanding turning six year old. Seeing this horse over the course of a year begin to truly step into his power and personality has been a ride I did not expect to be on and one that I could relive again and again, and continue to every time I work with him! Before the end of last year we had changed his name from Benjamin to Odysseus (Odys for short) to help clarify his true nature and blossom from his roots as an Amish cart horse.

In the process of witnessing Odys’s glowing up and stepping into his power I also began to sit with the things that I really wanted moving forwards. At first I began feeling like riding was a home base for me again. A place where I not only had to listen to my inner voice, but could. With Odys’s feedback I began to hear it more clearly, too. I set a goal in January to be jumping around small courses by May, and I am happy to report that we have checked that box with relative confidence. Including heading off site (our first time together venturing out!) to another barn to jump. Even a few months ago this would have caused rampant anxiety, however I am feeling eerily calm and collected knowing that it’s simply a training experience to be had.

There were areas in my life through last year and into the current year where I wasn’t really sure what the next step was. If you had asked last year me if I planned to compete again, I didn’t have a clear answer. Now it’s becoming obvious that this horse wants to carry me back into that world: however very differently than the decade ago memories I have of me in that world. Perhaps it’s the maturity of being out of it for that decade, too.

I have fallen hard, and willingly, back into an adult amateur equestrian (saddle pad addiction and general aesthetic included) lifestyle and while my original plans were to return to the sport as a well off retirement age rider on a nice, babysitting hunter horse have been dashed by a tall, dark and handsome mythical creature that is in every sense of the word a young horse and a show jumping horse. Those intentions of a nice and easy far down the road mosey into riding are now channelling all their bravery into teaching and riding a horse that is frankly has more ability and potential than any horse I’ve ridden previously.

My caution since has begun shifting into a “well, why not” chasing of previously long closeted horse girl dreams. I seem to have stumbled into the perfect opportunity to forge my own path, which in turn has dissolved the blocks and barriers I was feeling around the “what’s next” thought processes.

The inner world conversations happening now seem to revolve around me stepping into my own power and personality in a new way, just as last year was spent helping Odys do as such. The conversation now is becoming about my adult amateur rider bucket list (Florida 2022?!) and less about “this isn’t logical!”. Logic has no room where Odysseus is concerned. We now operate in terms of bravery conditioning, creativity, wild dreams, and authentic versions of self on any given day. Stay tuned for our next check in!

If you’d like to follow our journey more in the moment, follow my instagram (katmah1).

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