The Iberian Experience

February 9, 2010

The First Lesson

Filed under: Uncategorized — iberianexperience @ 3:32 am

As most of you can imagine I quickly found myself in the “what now” stage of this ordeal.  Sure I could put a halter on her, walk her around and even brush her off, but that was about it. And all of these activities I executed with a fair amount of nervousness.  After all, this was a horse who was completely untrained!

Awkward suspicion basically sums up my movement around her. I had been on, around and at times under horses for fourteen years, yet to look at me with DoubleShot one would see nothing other than a novice.  Something my trainer must have noticed when she offered me this piece of advice “she’s young and clueless, but she’s not stupid and she’s not mean.”  That helped, but nothing thoroughly broke my mental barrier more than time, endless hours of time spent with her that all began with our first lesson.

One filly (rather large I might add) one round-pin and one uneasy lady.  I do not believe I have ever seen that much motion in that confined of a space in the entirety of my horse life. Forwards, backwards, sideways and frequently straight up were all directions DoubleShot took full advantage of.

The goal for this primal lesson: to get her attention.  A Baby step to be sure and an agenda that seemed lackluster and easy at first compared to the challenge of water jumps, time limits and extended trots I was used to conquering a few years back.

But this was different, this horse was different, I was different. Eventually the filly paused for a brief moment, undoubtedly to catch her breath and my trainer took advantage of this time, opened the gate and said “ok, go on in”.

Sure, I’ll go on in… no problem, except that my stomach is in my throat.  Walking towards her, however, was phenomenal.  People say that they feel small when they stand on top of a mountain, or lose themselves inside a forest, well; this was my moment to feel small.  

It’s an unfortunate side effect of our motorized society, but most of us never experience the wonder of being close to a “wild” animal. Brute power, basic instincts and boundless unpredictability all stood at stared at me.  This was the fastest and perhaps purest lesson in respect I have ever learned.

But almost unknowingly, the lesson was over… the goal accomplished. For a moment, even if that moment was evanescently brief, I had her attention.  Something that created quite the dichotomous feeling; relief that I had become her focus, but outrageously intimidated that I was in fact just that.

February 7, 2010

The Name

Filed under: Uncategorized — iberianexperience @ 6:35 pm

Up to this point, I have yet to inform you of the name of “the filly”.  To give credit where credit is due, I did not name her, nor did I have anything to do with her name.  To be quite honest I did have some initial objections to the name, but have since come full circle. To me, a horses name needed to be equal parts eloquence and power; an attempt to assign a verbal expression of the animal’s essence.  

That said, a friend told me a few years ago, how interesting it truly is that people tend to live up to their given names. And that is the concept that changed my idea regarding the name of my filly.

Well without further ado, her name is DoubleShot.

A name that found its origin solely in the Java orientation of her mother’s name; but it has evolved into something so much more.  It became a definition for what we were trying to do; together tackle my second chance at an equestrian life, and perhaps, due to her own extraordinary nature, my shot at this life was doubled.

February 6, 2010

The Acquisition

Filed under: Uncategorized — iberianexperience @ 8:37 pm

I have to begin this with a slight caveat, the very acquisition that I write of occurred almost exactly one year ago. February 2009. But, to be truthful, the foundations of this acquirement began a few years earlier…

Following high school, college took me far away from my city, my state…even my country, and consequently far away from any horse. Yet I have to stress that this separation was purely physical. Shortly before my temporary departure, a dear friend had purchased one of the most dramatic warmblood mares that I had ever seen.

This same friend called me one day (while I was still far away) to tell me of their decision to breed this astonishing creature. I remember the exact details of my surrounding as this conversation was taking place. I was standing in a Pets Mart, looking for a harness for my dog. I listened excitedly. As soon as I hung up the phone, I turned to my better half and said “They’re going to breed Expresso… One day, that baby could be mine.”

Truth be told I have no idea where that sentence came from. I was living a life that did not include horses whatsoever, with no future intentions to change that life. Yet what cognitive development evolved in order for me to arrive at that conclusion and subsequently that statement?

Exhibit A if you will; proof that my soul still longed for some equine fulfillment.

A few years, a college graduation, a substantial move and I was back in the city of my childhood, and back at the barn of my youth. After a year or so of “re-entry” into my equine life, my gracious trainer subtly suggested one day that I consider opening my life to a quirky, color changing, slightly awkward, yet “extraordinary” filly.

After crunching a few numbers and stretching my imagination… I accepted. The day I wrote the check was cold… it was after all last February. Over a cup of tea and a lazy afternoon, my trainer explained to me the genetic heritage, current condition (medical and otherwise), and elusive POTENTIAL of the filly.

Yet up to this point, I still only knew the filly on paper. Leaving the check signing meeting, I was walking towards my car and I saw her. For the first time, I was looking at a horse that was mine… MINE. For the first time my fate was somewhat dictated in a sense by another creature. Not in the way that a dog impacts your life, for that relationship is still, for the most part, under your direction.

And sure my life had been altered on the day I said “I do”, but we were, and still are, two very similar souls, with very similar goals. It undoubtably changed me, but I had expected that change.  No, this was different, unexpectedly that filly, had reached out and taken a hold of my life, almost as if she grasped my reins that I had managed to hold onto pretty tightly up until now. Whatever combination of growing pains, bad habits, exquisite beauty, and potential that she was, suddenly I was too.

February 4, 2010

The Introduction

Filed under: Uncategorized — iberianexperience @ 9:41 pm

Winston Churchill has recently become one of my favorite historic gentlemen.  Not really due to his paramount military victories (although I will give due recognition). No, my new found admiration for this individual came solely from the discovery of these words that he apparently had written down on some occasion; ‘There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.’

I have been in strong belief of this statement since I was about ten years old. An age when all other extra-curricular activities had left me desiring something more; an age when my dearest mother was relentless in her pursuit to find me something to pursue; an age that became vitally important as I look back on the course of my life.

Horseback riding was the newly proposed activity; an activity that turned almost instantly into a hobby, a sport, a lifestyle… a PASSION. For all you skeptics who have clumped me into a category of middle-school aged females claiming to be horse-crazy and doodling rudimentary sketches in my notebook during class, be forewarned, this was not just a phase. No, to the detriment of my free-time, wallet and at times my body, I assure you, this was not a phase.

Fast-forward a decade or so. After the strong competitive endeavors of a few years past, I found myself claiming I was desiring a challenge. Something new. Perhaps my unconscious was stirring within me with the realization that perchance I was a decent rider, but a decent rider is not the same as a decent horseman.

This impasse, this fork in the road, is where I begin what I have recently come to call it, the Iberian Experience.

The players:

an 18 month old Iberian Sport Horse filly

a 23  year old secretary/student by day, renegade rider by night

The challenge:

To create a mutually respecting relationship between man and beast that would equate to accomplishing any equestrian challenge (formal or informal) that we may encounter.

Here we go…

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