Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Purpose of The Dance

Up until two years ago, I had always ridden for pleasure.  Hop on, head on down the road and (hope) to have a nice ride.

But when I inherited our daughter's former show horse, Champ, I wanted to ride him as well as she had.  To get the same results I needed to learn how to ride correctly using my seat, legs and body core.  I'd heard riding "correctly" was a lot of work.  That's an understatement!

Training on a Performance Horse was a challenge for a 50+ rider who had only ridden for fun.  My lessons had been intense, made even more so by my low level of confidence that was always interfering with my mind.  Champ was a difficult horse to ride and he could be nasty.  On his back I was never sure if I'd leave on my own or compliments of him.

My rides had been exhilarating.  I still recall the first time I got up the courage to lope and those incredible moments when we were in synch, a team both listening to (and respecting) each other.  In the end Champ and I had worked out our differences and mended our fences.  We bonded and all I had to do was think and he'd respond.

When I lost Champ last summer I immediately moved over to Poco, the 21-year old novice horse I'd only purchased a week prior to Champ's loss.  I'd bought Poco so my friends could join Champ and I on trail rides, one of the many goals I had. 

Poco was supposed to live at home while I continued to board and take lessons on Champ.  With Poco now as my only riding horse, his destiny changed.  He would now live at the barn and I'd continue lessons on him. 

But Poco had never been a performance horse and at age 21 I knew he'd never be one.  In our lessons we were oil and water.  My riding aids I'd trained so hard for didn't work on Poco.  How ironic that I would have been able to ride him easier if I'd never taken lessons! 

Our lessons were a struggle and I found myself wondering why I was even taking them.  I tried to put some type of goal towards riding Poco in my lessons, but I kept coming up empty handed.  I walked away feeling flat and then I started feeling bored.

Yet, Poco is one of the sweetest horses I've ever met.  My intention for purchasing him was spot on.  It wasn't HIS fault that I was having a hard time finding my groove when I rode him.

I decided to quit taking lessons in the middle of summer.  I felt a need to get to know Poco and for him to get to know me.  But soon Poco started to exhibit sight issues.

Shortly after came a diagnosis of Moon Blindness and loss of sight in his right eye.  I was glad I took the time off for us to get to know each other as his eyesight continues to fail and his spooking rate has increased. 

Round and round the arena we've gone and as much as I like Poco, something is missing.  I've enjoyed the pleasure of riding, but I'm missing the purpose of riding.

I miss the thrill of achieving a goal, the push of one's very best effort that brings such a high that it makes you punch your arm up into the air and then throw yourself around your horses' neck.  I miss dancing in my saddle from the joy of a well-done accomplishment or floating back to unsaddle my horse because I did it (whatever it was).  I miss the purpose of needing to go ride my horse so I can work towards a certain goal vs. riding my horse with no goal.

It's time to start searching for a replacement horse for Champ and send Poco home, where he was always meant to be.

I don't take this task lightly.  I'm not going to go out and buy just any horse.  Being retired, I'll need to plan my budget to make this purchase.  I will set a priority list and you can bet after buying Poco and finding out that he has Moon Blindness, that a pre-purchase exam will be mandatory.

I started this road two years ago and I sure didn't get here overnight.  I now know that the purpose of riding is what I've been missing.  It defines who I am, it gives me a reason to eat healthy and keep fit, it allows me to dance in my saddle.  I've missed dancing, but someday soon I hope to return to a purpose in riding and dance again.


  1. I know what you mean. I love trail riding, but without goals I'd wouldn't get the high I get from accomplishing things together with my horse.
    Good luck with your search.

  2. Purpose . . . that is what I'm missing. Great timing on this post.

    I'm glad you're keeping Poco. Will he still make a good trail horse for your friends or is he too spooky due to his eyesight failing?

    I'm excited that you're horse shopping. I know it's stressful but it's also fun. :)

  3. A very thoughtful post, one that I could relate to on may levels. Poco will enjoy being home. I wish you all the best in your search for the prefect dance partner.

  4. Great post, good luck on all your adventures with your horses ! Have a great weekend !

  5. I have one suggestion.

    Endurance riding.


    Looking forward to looking over your shoulder as you shop!

  6. Dressage is great because you and the horse work as a team and it is so refined that it is always a challenge. Good luck with your search.

  7. I too am an older woman learning. I want to learn Dressage but have to learn my seat first. I am 42 years old and this is a new world for me. Congrats to you and I hope you find the horse your looking for. I am too on this quest. i have enjoyed following your posts. please let me invite you to follow mine.

  8. I enjoyed your post and I think a lot of people can relate to what you have to say. Good luck on the horse search!

    ~Gina Chianello
    Parelli: A Natural Approach to Horse Training.