Dreams Come True

 

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The thudding rhythmic beat of the hooves is music to my ears. The momentary pause as man and beast soar over the jump is grace in action. The competitors make it look simple. They gallop around the course in a collected manner and then spring up over the jump. I’m not sure the audience can fully appreciate the hours of practice and training that goes into the presented teamwork of horse and rider. This is a dream come true, it is the riders dream come true.

I attended the Nations Cup At Spruce Meadows held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on September 9, 2017. It wasn’t only an outing to enjoy the beauty of the equestrian sport but it was a small reunion between a few Equine Studies college friends, and myself. We hadn’t been together in over ten years. So what better way to reconnect than to horse around at Spruce Meadows? Yeah, it’s a groaner.

The horse is an instinctual animal that has survived for hundreds of years by living according to it’s fight or flight instincts. I reluctantly add that by nature’s choosing, horses are creatures of prey. In the wild they are hoofed grass eaters subject to the laws of the hunt. The weak and slow of the herd are meals for packs of roving wolves, the henchman of the bush. Most horses choose flight over fight. Unless they are cornered, and then watch the kicking, striking, and biting commence. This fact alone should add to your admiration for all who sit astride a horse in hopes of controlling the outcome.

I’ve had the pleasure of horses in my life since I was a naive little pea pod on the vine of life. (Such a bad metaphor, no comments from the peanut gallery.) I have been tossed, trampled, struck, bowled over, bit and kicked by horses. I know through painful and personal experience that horses are not just instinctual beings, but are emotional creatures as well. They form strong bonds of companionship between other horses, and given time and trust, between people as well. Horses are sensitive to emotion. They sense fear or hostility in a person by simply being close to them. They don’t need the demonstration of trembling hands or a rough brush, to know a person can’t be trusted in that state of mind. This means, for a rider to be successful, they must be calm and confident, even in the face of their own personal fears. The trust between horse and rider must be like the trust between a flying trapeze performer and their partner who catches them. There can be no hesitation, or doubt, timing is everything. Welcome to the Spock Academy for hopeful equestrians.

Now lets add to the mix, the fact that horses actually do have ideas and desires of their own. Sometimes a stallion would rather be mounting a mare than leaping a fence. It takes a strong hand to guide a stallion to a rider’s whims. Sometimes horses are having a bad day. Maybe they miss a stable-mate, or are feeling lazy, like they would rather just lie around the pasture. It’s a whole different ball game when a sport includes a non-verbal teammate.

 

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Ultimately show jumping is communication between man and beast, for the jumper to be successful the horse must want to jump. Somewhere inside them there is the desire to soar. And as I watched the jumping events it is clear to see the horse trusts it’s rider, and the rider trusts his horse. The horses responds to the encouragement and challenge from their director to jump fences they wouldn’t jump on their own.

It’s bloody amazing. The professionals in any sport can make the task look easy. The teamwork in show jumping seems effortless, and therein lays the magic. It is the slippery fricken magic of appearance. We don’t see the in behind scenes of hard work, or countless hours of practice and failure. We haven’t seen the riders struggle to maintain a positive outlook through their feelings of frustration, doubt and fear. If these show jumpers can trust their horse, who by nature are a creature of fight or flight, to go over jumps for them time and time again. then I do think you can trust yourself to accomplish whatever dreams you can conjure up in your limitless mind.

You got this. Oh yes. Damn right you do.

An Absence of Sun

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Welcome friend, it’s come around again, we have officially entered the seasonal shift when morning light has attained a later state of being. These days, when my alarm sounds out, and I battle to pop my peeper’s open, I am greeted by a dungeon-like darkness. The only thing missing is the shackles. And to be truthful it’s not the pitch-black mornings which bothers me the most. It’s the possibility that crude creeping creatures might be hiding in the lightless space. That idea quickly ignites my imagination and brings to life the horror of unexpected slippery touches, bony grasping fingers, and weird grunting noises… And then I remember, my husband is away at work.

And so it begins, the return to the dark and dismal rise and shine time. The absence of the sun has throttled the very breath out of my fun loving demeanour. I find myself prompted to drag the life size skeleton, Mr. Bones from our garage and have him sit beside me on the couch. We lean in towards one another, fleshy humerus to naked humerus and listen to the top ten hits of funeral music. We silently mourn the death of my chirpiness, although to be frank, Mr. Bones seems quite unsympathetic to my current state of being.

I glance out into the blackness of the early morning hours, and summarily decide the stars are grieving too, as they are veiled by a thick coverlet of clouds. The only light in the room is the orange glow from my Himalayan salt rock. I could turn on a real light but that would interrupt the mood. And in all truthfulness, I’m not quite miserable yet, I’m simply setting the scene. I figured I may as well wait and see what happens, after all, misery loves company. I ruminate for a while longer, and soon realize it’s not coming. Misery has snubbed my overture. I drag Mr. Bones back to the garage, and set him on his sled with his sunglasses positioned over his empty eye sockets. His day won’t get much worse than it already is, and at that bright thought, I feel myself smile.

Paddleboard For Peace

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I’ve been contemplating the world from my secluded slice of heaven for a while now. Our lake invites a reflective state as you can see from the photo above. My daughter’s dog, Mica enjoys a good paddle on the water, and I am happy to oblige. My hubby occupies the other board and he struggles to keep up. I revel in the fact that I am faster than he. On land, he is the fleetest of foot, his legs compare to the stilts of a caribou running in front of a wildfire. If he strapped on skis, he’d be akin to a bunny on steroids. If you give him a pedal bike, his legs spin in a blur like the roadrunners in the Looney Toon’s cartoons, “Meep Meep, try to catch me.” So I admit, I practically glow with satisfaction when I look back on him as he wobbles in my wake. He blames it on his weight and the length of his paddle. I, however, patiently tell him, “Your paddle is fine. It’s the way that you use it that counts.”

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Anyway, my grand dog Mica loves to go cruising on the lake with me. She is oddly at ease, sometimes she stands up, and sometimes she sits down, and then there are times she lays across the bow like the July playmate in a Playdog magazine. She trusts me. She believes  I will do my level best to keep us afloat, and so far we’ve done well. We are two different species cooperating for a successful experience.

The contemplative nature of steering across the lake has caused me to toss around the notion that the most troublesome of the world leaders should be required to paddleboard. It should happen on a remote lake in the middle of nowhere. They should be instructed to ride together and then switch up partners taking turns at being the paddler, and then being the passenger. It would be a good teambuilding experiment. It might instigate a sense of trust— no rocking the boat on purpose here. It would be an excellent time to remind them of the beauty of our planet, and how well an ecosystem survives when there is little to no manipulation from human kind. Maybe all leaders should heed the words of Mother Teresa,  If you want to change the world, go home and love your families. (love your people) Just imagine if everyone stopped throwing spitballs at each other, and went home to hug their family and pet the cat?

Out here on the lake, I see no imaginary lines determining countries or property. It looks to be open access for all. On the water, the voice of the wind speaks gently to the trees, and the willowing cry of the loons echoes in the dusky evening light. We see the fish leap and land with a splash causing circles to ripple outwards. The dragon flies glimmer and sparkle in the fading glow, as they dip and dive consuming mosquitos that would feed on our blood. Out here there is a sense of freedom, and a definite detachment from the over populated parts of the world. As we sweep along on the wrinkles of the lake there is no phone by our hand, and no call to be judged or judge. Our hearts are open and our minds are free.  Our particular section of the world is shaded in splendiferous colors and glows offers abundant hope for tomorrow.

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