Dear Captain Mark:
I have been having some difficulty with my young event prospect and was wondering if you might offer some advice. The $700 Pony has demonstrated some behaviors that I find mildly disconcerting given my expectations for her career.
For example, she is afraid of all of the jumps in the indoor. It is a hunter farm, so the jumps are colorful, but they never move. Every single day she startles (well, tries to turn and run might be more accurate) at each and every one of them. Additionally, shadows on the ground frighten her into a state of paralysis. And she has tripped over every single pole she has ever tried to trot over.
I have been thinking she has a lot of potential and thought you might like to give me some advice to get over these initial hurdles.
Proud Owner of the $700 Pony
Are you by any chance blond?
Hmm. How did he know that?
It has been pointed out to me that my grasp of reality is tenuous at best. Pointed out by people who are generally in pretty close contact with my life, that is, like my mom, my husband, my trainer/therapist. “Delusional” is another word that gets tossed around a lot. They mean it in a NICE way, of course. I think.
I mean, maybe “hopeful” or “overly optimistic” would be more appropriate language.
But here’s an example and you can decide: we sell our chicken eggs at the end of our driveway. Theft has been high of late. EVERY SINGLE TIME we have a carton stolen, I BELIEVE, and I mean I BELIEVE, the kind of belief that would send Tinkerbell rocketing to Pluto were she within pixie ear shot, that the money will turn up in the box the next day.
My husband likes to point out that this has happened exactly once in the past year while we get eggs stolen at least once a week. So, delusional or hopeful?
[And for more on nursing hope, click here: <a href="[url=“http://chronicleforums.com/groupee/forums?a=tpc&s=6656094911&f=5566064631&m=7016050531&r=655201015#655201015”>http://chronicleforums.com/groupee/forums?a=tpc&s=6656094911&f=5566064631&m=7016050531&r=655201015#655201015</a>] Hey, if you’re funny and no one reads it, there is no sound of laughter!]
Well, I vote hopeful. It was with great hope that I purchased the Pony (for $700, did I mention that I only paid $700 for this pony?), despite the fact that I had promised my trainer/therapist that I would never, ever, ever, torment a green horse again. And despite the fact that I had not actually ridden a horse in, oh, say, Two Children (which translates roughly into 3 Human Years).
I was discussing this with my therapist/trainer the other day and the conversation went something like this:
Me: “But it’s not like I haven’t DONE this before! I’ve taken a couple of very green ponies from nothing to TRAINING level for pete’s sake, in just a couple of months! I’m not sure why I’m having such a hard time with this one.”
Therapist/Trainer: “Well, let’s reflect on this a moment, shall we? Look back in time a bit, as it were. Now WHEN exactly did you do all of this before?”
Me: “Well, it was a few years go, wasn’t it?”
Therapist/Trainer: “You were 25.”
Me: “What’s your point?”
Patient beyond words Therapist/Trainer: “And how old are you now?”
It hit me like a ton of feathers. Which, frankly, will knock you on your butt just as quick as a ton bricks, ‘cause, let’s face it, a ton is a ton, whether we’re talking bricks or feathers.
Me: “HOLY HORSE POOP! I’m - I’m - I’m, FORTY!!! Oh, my G-D!!! That was, like, FIVE CHILDREN AGO!!! Where has the time GONE??? I’m a FORTY YEAR OLD MOTHER OF TWO RIDING A $700 PONY?? AND I THINK I’M GOING TO COMPETE??? I’M GOING TO LOOK LIKE AN IDIOT!!”
The trainer/therapist has a much firmer grip on reality than I do. That’s one of the reasons I like her so much. She’s a tough love kind of gal. She did agree that, yes, I am going to look a little bit silly come spring if we actually get this pony going. The comments at the bottom of the dressage test that I used to get when I was in my 20’s about it being time for my mom to buy me a full sized horse are just not going to be there ”" I don’t look like I’m 12 any more. Two tiny children will do that to you. Now I just look like a big honking 135lb grown up (that would have been 125lbs Two Children ago) pounding a sweet little pony.
BUT, and she reminded me quite nicely of some realities: I actually LIKE the $700 Pony. I enjoy riding her, she is making progress and while we did agree that I should not ride green horses any more, this particular critter, despite the fact that she is (a) a striking shade of emerald, (b) a chestnut mare and © a pony, seems to have a huge streak of forgiveness embedded in her chip. She is a kind soul and does not seem to be taking my colossal ineptitude personally.
So about that progress thing. At my first, and thus far only lesson (reflecting the erratic weather we have been experiencing on the east coast, ice, mud, ice, mud, that sort of nonsense, rather than a lack of desire or need on our part) my trainer/therapist was careful to say brightly and in that loud, deliberate voice that makes me wonder if she thinks that my IQ and hat size are within striking range of each other:, “SO, looks GOOD. Things look very, VERY good here!”
Although of course they really did not.
The $700 Pony goes a bit like Pepe Le Pew. On cocaine. My trainer/therapist mused as she watched us careen around the indoor that it seemed the pony may have a combination of giraffe and sandpiper buried somewhere in her pedigree. But there is a REASON we pay our trainer/therapists beaucoup bucks, is there not? We pay for those golden nuggets of wisdom that will help us climb that mountain called PROGRESS!
And it was in that bright, measured voice, that she distributed her golden nuggets, millions upon billions of golden nuggets, all delivered on top of that basic assumption (remember that basic assumption?) that “Things look very, VERY good here!”.
Like, maybe I should try a full cheek instead of an eggbutt. Maybe my dressage saddle instead of the Stubben. Like I should try a standing martingale. Oh, and if I slowed my posting down what would happen? And, honey, WHAT are you doing with your hands, there? Can we PLEASE stop that RIGHT NOW and NEVER DO IT AGAIN, EVER, FOR ANY REASON? And, My goodness, taking Two Children off has not really helped your riding at all, has it? And so on. For Â½ an hour. I am sure you can relate.
Sigh. It was a little like showing up for work in a brand spanking new outfit and having your sophisticated, cool, tall, skinny, blond co-worker, the one who always looks so, well, TOGETHER, say, “Oh, honey, that suit is to DIE FOR. I mean, not everyone can wear that COLOR, and you are so BRAVE to wear that length and, my gosh, you really do look better than usual, don’t you?
But PROGRESS, I did mention progress didn’t I? Drum roll, please: the $700 Pony has exhibited the canter gait. Whew. While right now, it is a somewhat fragile custody and a seizure by the Equine Gait Patrol seems possible at any moment, she does flail her legs in some semblance of a three beat gait.
And so, in my hopeful, rose colored world, I continue to believe that it is possible that I will be eventing the $700 Pony in the spring. I mean it would only take a few, LITTLE things. Like that her steering improves a bit (HATE it when they fall out of the dressage ring), and that she learns to canter OFF the lounge line (while they do allow whips now, I believe lounge lines are still illegal, right?), and, oh, yeah, she’s going to HAVE to learn to jump (THAT’S a big one ”" need that for eventing).
Well, hey, what’s winter for, but pounding away in indoors and dreaming (hopefully, oh, so hopefully!) of spring anyway?
A personal note: I actually don’t think I’m ALL that funny - not fishing for compliments here, as we are all our worst critics. HOWEVER, the nursing Hope bit, well, even I think it’s funny. I think it’s worth reading