Monday, October 26, 2009

Remembering Why We Do This

Red Bridge Farm, SFD’s home, is surrounded by homes. Forty years ago, Ted Gorman, our landlord, bought a 400-acre dairy farm, converted the main barns for horses, and sold off house-sized parcels. He sold to some really nice folks. This Saturday, we invited them over. We introduced our neighbors to a few of our horses, showed them a little dressage, fed them cake and punch, and gave the kids (and some of the adults) pony rides.

This all started as a good public relations idea, you know, giving back to the community. But by 5:00 Saturday, I was beginning to wonder if maybe we got as much out of the experience as the neighbors did.

Training for dressage competition is pick-on-yourself-every-day kind of work. Even when it all flows and you win the day, there are still things that could be just-a-little-bit better. Training for the elusive “10” keeps us so detail-focused that sometimes we forget the point.

What is the point anyway? Simply put, riding horses is fun. Tweaking the horse-human communication until our aids are virtually invisible, while channeling all that power, is the most amazing rush. That is why we do dressage, not for the $2 piece of satin.

Championship season tends to steal the fun.

But seeing the kid’s huge grin during the pony rides—that was fun. Watching the wonder on our neighbors faces as they learned to safely give a horse a treat—that was fun.

The demo horses caught the mood. Clyde and Victoria, Laura and Oberon, and Cara and Ockie demonstrated first level, third level and PGS for our neighbors. I’ve seen these three combinations compete all season, performing for perfection-minded judges. This audience was different. These folks were here to enjoy the beauty of the horse’s movement. This was going to be a different kind of performance.

Boy did those horses perform. I haven’t seen that much bounce out of Clyde, suppleness out of Oberon, or pure joy out Ockie in any of their performances this season. Our audience, all non-horse people, commented about how much fun the horses were having.

Afterwards, as we all decompressed in the barn, the riders basked in the pure fun of their rides, without worrying about the scores.

What a great way to end the season.

Well, almost end, the Big Fall Show is next week. More about that next time.

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