I just finished reading a book called 'The Horse Dancer' by Jojo Moyles (I have to admit to a few tears towards the end) and it brought back to me all my old feelings about what horses and riding are all about, for me and for other people too.
For me, as for one of the characters in the book, it's all about feeling that you have a purpose in life, something to work for and aspire to. About forming a partnership based on trust and mutual respect with a powerful animal and finding ways of working harmoniously together to, hopefully, achieve something beautiful and inspiring, and all the confidence and self worth that comes with doing that.
It's not about winning competitions (although that would be very nice!) - it's about being the best that I can be and trying to improve myself and constantly learn more. If I can win a few people over to clicker training and Dales and Fell Ponies along the way then it's even more worthwhile!
I was sitting in the O2 arena listening to Paul Carrack last night (as you do!) and he'd just performed one of my all time favourites, 'The Living Years', and I suddenly decided on my aims and aspirations for next year, instead of just drifting along aimlessly with my ponies, as I have done recently.
Grace is well into her teens now and is worth her weight in gold as a safe hack and escort and she seems very happy with her light workload.
I have long ago accepted that Jack has severe limitations because of the confidence problems that partial sight in one eye gives him so we just have fun playing about at home, and Mike has now had a sit on him too and I will hopefully be able to give him lessons on him in future (Jack's a bit too responsive for him to be let loose on at the moment). I love riding Jack as he's so powerful and always get a kick out of how forward going he is these days. He's also fantastic at in hand lateral work so he's very useful to revise my aids with if I'm struggling with one of the others or try anything new with.
I'm going to have some more lunge lessons with Caroline and improve my seat so Bella and I can hopefully reach our full potential as I think I'll be the limiting factor rather than her!
Then, other than continuing our training at home, Bella and I are going to compete in at least on dressage to music competition, at whatever level we're capable of by then. I love dressage to music and have always wanted to have a go, so I'm going to, and I'll get to show her off in public too!!!
Merlin and I are going to enter the local Fell Pony Society show next spring and do a ridden class. That gives me loads of time to get him going properly and the spur to actually make the time to do it!!!
Merlin is such a good advert for Fell Ponies. I tried my western saddle on him tonight, having not even sat on him for ages, and as I went to climb onto the mounting step I clumsily managed to knock it over and it hit his front leg as it clattered onto the concrete. Merlin never moved an inch - just lifted that front leg and held it up out of the way until I'd stood the step upright again! From the wide eyed, jumpy little soul that first arrived here he has come an awfully long way!!
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