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 just 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 horses by nature’s choosing 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, nature’s 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.) In my days of being tossed, trampled, struck, bowled over, bit and kicked by horses I know painfully and personally, 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 can sense fear or hostility in a person by simply being close to them. They don’t need the demonstration of trembling hands or a baseball bat to the fence, 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 accepts the encouragement and challenge from their director to jump fences they wouldn’t consider jumping 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 is a creature of fight or flight, to go over jumps for them time and time again— then I 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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I’m what you would call an early bird. As many of you know early risers don’t only get the worm, they also incubate a dozen eggs and hatch a batch of chicks too. Not to say the night owls and nighthawks are slackers, it’s just that because of the time of the day there might be more alcohol involved. And then we have those akin to the blue-footed booby— we don’t generally talk about those folks. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with a secret society— they may or may not be under investigation. I plead the fifth my interpretation could be flawed.

As we enter into the seasons shift I can’t help but notice the morning light has attained a later state of being. Now as my alarm sounds out and I reluctantly pop my peeper’s open,  I am greeted by a dungeon-like darkness. The only thing missing is the shackles. Now don’t get me wrong. I like the dark. I just don’t like slippery touches, or bony grasping fingers, or weird snuffling, grunting noises in the pitch black. Not that there are right now, because my husband is away at work.

Now, to keep the truth on track, I admit I’m not totally opposed to the impending winters dark. I often wear black and I confess it’s a classically gorgeous color. If I am not mistaken, black is a combination of colors so it’s kind of like a rainbow in disguise. And who doesn’t like a rainbow? Heh?

So as we return to my 5:00 a.m. rise and shine time. I find the absence of the sun has throttled the very breath out of my fun loving demeanour. I find myself inspired to drag the life size skeleton Mr. Bones from our garage and have him sit beside me on the couch. I am currently playing the top ten hits of funeral music. We mourn the death of my chirpiness together. Although to be frank Mr. Bones seems quite unsympathetic to my state of being.

So here I sit the only live being in the dark. The stars are grieving too, currently 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 it would interrupt the mood. It’s not even that that I’m miserable. I’m just setting the scene to see if I can invite it in, after all misery loves company.

After sitting a while longer I realize it’s not coming— misery has snubbed my overture. I bring Mr. Bones back to the garage, and set him back on his sled with his sunglasses raised. He’s had enough shade for one day.

I wonder about the night owls, do they ever feel drawn to invite misery into their pitch-black moments? Do the seasons changing rhythms cause them to long for the extended evening light of summer? Or do they prefer to be wrapped in a shroud of shadows when the moon sits high, or to cocoon themselves in the velvety blackness vacant of starlight?

Regardless of my musings, autumn is here. It is robed in reds, scarlet, brick and sangria. It is accented with oranges, ginger, marigold and pumpkin. And lastly, it is crowned with yellows, golden sunflower, corn and flaxen tones. Without a doubt it is the most glorious season of all. It brings the shorter days and chilly nights to forewarn us winter is nigh. I wish the early birds, night owls, nighthawks, and blue-footed boobies a joyful transition time, because no matter what we do— winter is a coming and we have no choice but to nest or fly.

Paddleboard For Peace

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I’ve been contemplating the world from my secluded slice of heaven for a while now. It can be a reflective state as you can see from the photo. It’s a photo of myself and Mica on one paddleboard, and then my hubby on another paddleboard struggling to keep up. I revel in the fact I’m faster than he. He’s normally the fleetest of foot, his legs compare to the stilts of a caribou running in front of a wildfire. If he straps on skies, he’s akin to a bunny on steroids. If you give him a pedal bike, his legs spin around 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 wobbling in my wake. He blames it on his weight and the length of his paddle. However, I patiently tell him, “Your paddle is fine. It’s the way 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 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 knows I will do my level best to keep us afloat, and so far we’ve done well.

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 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 the leaders causing the most damage 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 we hear the voice of the wind speaking gently to the trees, and the willowing cry of the loons. We see the fish leap and land with a splash causing circles to ripple outwards. The dragon flies glimmer and sparkle in the fading light 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 as the sun begins to set. Our world is shaded in splendiferous colors and glows offering hope for tomorrow.

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