Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why Horses?

The other day some friend of my uncle's stopped by our house for some unknown reason. When i was introduced to her she paused a moment and looked at me funny, then asked "your the horse girl aren't you?"
"yes ma'am that's me" She then relaxed a little bit. "i never rode horses, but i wanted too. do you ride cowboy style?" "no ma'am i ride dressage, the saddle doesn't have a horn, and its kind of like ballet but on a horse" Blank stare. "we do the feet thing?" "Oh yes!!! the feet thing!! yeah" points at my uncle. "he told me about the feet thing!! what are your plans for riding?" "Well this summer I'm going to be a working student in Mississippi, and next summer I'm moving to England to ride there." She paused and her eyes got really wide.

"why in the world would you do something like that? you'll throw your life away!!"

I couldn't speak. I just stared at her. throw my life away, is that what she thinks I'm doing?
And the alternative is what? go to LSU like everyone else in my family. Become a nurse like everyone else is in my family. and stay here all my life popping out grandchildren.

So why am i moving thousands of miles away, across an ocean to ride horses? There are horses here.
Whats so special about dressage anyway? Wouldn't i rather stay here and have kids?

What is passion? no really what is it, why does it make us feel like we do? Why do people turn their backs on what society wants and devote their lives to horses? It can't be the money. As one of my friends so wisely put it "in order to make a small fortune in horses, you need to start with a large fortune." Why do people throw their money away to spend their lives with animals that only live about twenty years.
It cant be the fame. If theres one thing I've learned from horses its humility, and i promise you, i have a thick head and you can't imagine how many times I've been thrown onto my thick head for that lesson to sort of stick with me. It can't be because its a good investment for our futures, if there was a horseback riders nursing home the conversations would go something like this "hey Courtney how are you today?" "just fine
Guenter, except I'm really feeling that time my horse threw me and i fractured my skull" "aww really? I'm sorry, if it makes you feel any better i woke up this morning and could hardly get out of bed, my pelvis is acting up again!! must be from that fall" "oh hey Janet how are you?" -muffles something from body cast-  "eventers, they just don't quit do they?" Because lets face it, besides extreme sky diving and rock climbing sheer cliffs, there's really not much that's more dangerous than riding horses.
It has to be something else.

For me its because, i feel freedom.
Pure unadulterated freedom. Freedom i can't get anywhere else.
Not at school. Not at the mall. Not a dance. Not a party. Not with a boyfriend, because come on girls, we all know boys are more of a hobby we have when Not riding horses anyway.

I me. Like I'm a whole person, and not that shadow that goes to school and goes to the mall to look at clothes, which unfortunately is a necessary evil, Dover doesn't sell any kinds of pants i could wear to school. Even though i would love to go to school in my riding pants, because then i could just go straight to the barn after school and save tons of time.

When i went to the private christian bubble school, they had a speaker come talk to us one day about being ourselves and that we shouldn't attach "ourselves" to any earthly thing. then they asked us to define ourselves and write it on a piece of paper. I stared at that piece of paper for half an hour through the rest of the talk. Finally i realized the word i was looking for. All that piece of paper said when i turned it in was "horse" Because i feel closer to God on the back of my horse out in a field then i do anywhere else on the planet. I feel like there's a wall between me and God when my feet are on the ground. That must be how serious pilots feel. And rock climbers. And divers.

It's not that i placed my being on my horse's shoulders. Its that it was already there. I grew up with them. However I'm not going to claim my first word was horse, it wasn't, it was fan, not sure why but apparently i was fascinated by fans. I always, since before i can remember looked at horses and saw myself reflected. Even now that I'm a teenager and the boy hobby has taken up a little of my brain, and school has taken up even more. Every time i see a beautiful horse, i can't breathe. Doesn't matter how many times I've seen that horse up close, when they start moving i feel like some one's punched my stomach and knocked the wind out of me. Even if we're driving and i see a horse in a field i still turn around to look, and wonder what kind of riding they are trained for. Looking at double bridles, all shiny and clean makes my heart leap.
There's something exotic about horses. The long forelocks and tails, the arched necks. The Floaty movements they have. The way they run and buck when their excited.

There's a song by Lily Allen called "The Fear" and one of the lines is "I'll look at the sun and I'll look in the mirror I'm on the right track yeah we're on to a winner". The real lyrics should be "I'll look at my horse and I'll look in the mirror I'm on the right track yeah we're on to a winner"  Because isn't that what we really want?
To be able to show off who we are without being a whore. Horses have perfected being exotic and classy all at the same time. Some humans have even gotten close to it, for example Audrey Hepburn or Princess Diana (both women mind you, sorry guys)

We want freedom. Freedom that the normal world cant give us. You could drive around in this landscape all day long, and it will never be as beautiful as if you were looking at it from the back of a horse.
You will never, i repeat never go as fast in a car as you can on a horse. No I'm not basing that conclusion on MPH, I'm basing that on personal experience. I've gone almost 100 mph in a car and galloping my horse felt twice as fast. Cars give no freedom, horses do. Instead of looking at your surroundings you are interacting with them. You feel the wind, you smell the grass, you hear the horses hoofs against the ground, you see the earth flying under you. In the car you feel the seat, smell the car, hear the radio, see lines on a road.

So where am i going with this? Essentially I'm saying..

"Its okay, you don't have to understand...

Because I do."


Dressager said...

I really needed this. I'm torn between devoting my life and livelihood to horses or have them continue to be a hobby. Take a little business course in college and get on with my horsey life or go to medical school and have two (hopefully) successful lives. I don't know if I ever want to compete, whether that would be right for me or for my horse. I don't know if I want to continue doing just dressage or if I really want to branch out. For thirteen years I was determined to be an equine vet, and now i realise that's not what I want to do. So, basically what I'm saying is, while it's good to have an idea, don't plan ahead, because things will almost always never turn out exactly as you planned them to be. And going to college and taking a little business course isn't a bad idea if you want to get into the horse world. At least be prepared to have something to fall back onto should things not go entirely as planned. Especially if you'll be going to another country where the price of living is almost twice as much as it is here lol! I really liked this though, it's so true.

Paigley said...

what i'm planning to do is since overdale (mary wanless)provides housing for working students, i'm moving there for a year then coming home and getting a degree as an architect (to build pretty barns with!!) and then going to either florida to train with heather blitz or back to england to train with kyra kyrkland, theres just no way i want to stay in LA any longer than i have to

smazourek said...

Amen, sister!

buckpony said...

I totally get it. However, I gave up my passion for the last 15 years to raise a family and now the yearning to ride again is tearing my family apart. It is so hard when others don't get your passion. My horses (ponies, rather) are an addiction. I can't give them up. I truly tried. They are my drug, my therapy, and how you so aptly put freedom. I love my family more than anything in the world. but I need my time with my ponies, now more than ever.
Do it Paige. Go all of the way and don't let anything get in your way. I can't wait to see you performing Grand Prix Dressage with your best friend and partner. :)

Paigley said...

Buckpony: your comment literally made me start tearing up, Its amazing the amount of people i hear tell me (and other young riders)that we're not rich enough, not talented enough, and not lucky enough. but that all of it can be erased by ONE person believing in you.