While I love my "little Lu" - she's my baby (yea, 80 lbs at just 8 months), I love my boys more than anything. Here's the Luna-girl rocking some Fuel Belt gear (at 5 months old) - thanks, Betsy! She's currently residing at Casa Langford (aka Mr. Wizard) in Massachusetts while I'm away - Sean and Jen are THE ultimate pet owners - hikes and other fun, not to mention Jen's history in veterinary medicine - to say I trust them is the understatement of the century - they are amazing friends and I can't wait until they get a dane too so we can have more doggie play dates! By the way, I'll be in Boston after I get back on the 18th, so if you're around, let's hang!
Many of you know that I grew up on and around horses. I competed for years in the sports of eventing and dressage, competing at the FEI international level. I'll have to scan in some competition pics from my competition days. When I went to camp as a kid (and Annie Rogers will back this up), I took my pony. We all went to 4-H horse camp and it was all horses, all the time. I never went to my prom because I was always away competing. I never played school sports because I was with the horses before and after school. I can't say that I would change a thing. My horses are closer than friends, closer than children - they are my partners. We trust eachother completely and I can identify with them in ways I cannot with people. We communicate silently, every movement the result of our unheard and unseen messages. When people say "the rider does nothing" - it is both the greatest compliment and insult at once. As rider and horse, we strive to appear as one - if any command is prevalent, if any cue can be seen, you are doing something wrong.
My boys have taught me a lot about myself, about the person I can and want to be, about what is possible. They have taught me about loss. Losing Mimi, Bullet and Peachy were brutally hard experiences, traumatic to this day.
I wanted to introduce you all to my boys - so here is Casanova:
Cass, my Super Little Poe, is my oldest friend. We're now approaching 20 years together and he hasn't aged a day. He is feisty, fiery and always gives me a challenge - a good natured one, of course. He is mischievous and my partner in crime (we went trick or treating on more than a few occasions). He also has heart. He is a tiny pony and yet he and I took on a sport that was filled with expensive bred-for-this BIG horses. We were treated with bias by many judges, we faced many challenges, but we earned our success. Cass and I moved through the levels of eventing and dressage and with him, we were rewarded as champions. When I decided it was time to retire Cass, it was not for him being tired, or not being able to compete anymore - he would have attempted to jump the Great Wall of China if I asked him to. We trust eachother to keep one another safe. I think of Cass whenever I need some inspiration. He reminds me to test the limits without fear.
This is WestPoint:
West and I were paired during college. He is my bubbaganoush. West is BIG. He is an Oldenburg - built for the sport of Dressage. West is an interesting character. He is stubborn beyond belief, yet no horse is as challenging as a pony (big brain in a little body - with lots of coordination!). West was brought to the US when he was young, trained and ridden by talented riders, and then he was sold from person to person. He is big and he knows it. He intimidated countless riders and would not perform. His last owner put him out to pasture for 2 years before I found him one winter day. I was looking for a new mount to compete with me on the North American Young Rider Circuit- an FEI competition to find the top under 21 riders on each continent. I'm a nurturer and there are few things I like more than making someone happy. When I arrived at the farm, I was told he was difficult and dangerous - that he was possessive of his space. I went right up to him and we snuggled together. I stroked his face and groomed him. His ears twitched with contentment and when I got on his back for a "test ride", we flowed like we had always been together. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face and he just wanted to show me everything he had. Difficult maneuvers were no problem, mind you, doing some of these movements after 2 years off is like, well, imagine if when Lance Armstrong retired, he didn't ride or run or do anything but hang out, then he does the Tour of Cali and rocks it.
West reminds me that despite a hard exterior (he still scares people - and he doesn't like small animals or children), we all have something that brings out the best in us. West reminds me to be patient and gentle. That forcing something will not make it better. It took a lot of coaxing for West to come out of his shell and I never want him to go back in. West suffered an injury last September and has been out of commission for a year now. Though I cannot ride him or compete, the joy I get from spending time with him has not lessened at all. I need to do what he has taught me: take a deep breath and review the process - revel in patience, in the meticulous small details that lead you to your goal, whether healing from an injury or competing in a race.
While I love riding my bicycle, speeding down a steep hill will never compare to traveling at 40+ mph on the back of a horse, soaring over cross country fences that are taller than myself and wider than my car. Gosh, maybe that's what I should tell people - it's hard to be scared of a bicycle - bicycles don't have a brain of their own!
Ok, back to packing... more later!