What I’m now writing about is difficult to write about. No one likes to admit to failing at something they’ve attempted to do. Preparing for competitive events included. In such instances, success is measured in a quantifiable fashion – evidence manifests itself in ribbons, trophies, and other tangible accolades. I was sure that Raudi and I were going to do well. In the end, we did well in ways that were only evident to her and me.
My day yesterday ended on a not so good note. Raudi and I were, after finishing, to again present ourselves to the horsemanship judge and the veterinarian for a final evaluation. I waited by our trailer while the 40 plus horse and riders were checked over. I did this because I knew that otherwise, I’d spend my time disciplining Raudi, who I knew would not stand still.
It was finally our turn. We trotted up to the veterinarian who said “well, this is the grande finale!” meaning last horse and rider to come through. In minutes, the words grande finale took on a more real meaning. This is what happened. Veterinarian examined horse, who was sound, and in good form. Horsemanship judge told handler to trot the horse and lunge her. Handler trotted horse out, sent her out to the end of the line. Horse then bolted, pulling the line out of the disbelieving handler’s hands, and ran off. Those behind handler, a collective crowd of about thirty or so, gasped in disbelief. Horse ran back to trailer, with handler following.
I tied Raudi up, sat in a lawn chair, and began sobbing. I was embarrassed, mortified, humiliated, and ahem, put out. Observer’s remarks, which summarized were “horses’ do these kinds of things” and “we’ve all been there,” did not right then make me feel any better. As I later said to Pete, the entire incident seemed to me to be unreal. After months of hard work, Raudi did what I considered to be the worst possible thing she could do – ran off during the final horsemanship check. “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha” she said. Here, I thought, was proof positive that I didn’t have a clue as to what constituted good horsemanship skills. And there went my plan, to talk with others about my plan, which centered around starting an equine education center. Best, I thought, just to bury my pinhead in the sand.
I’d decided to avoid the awards ceremony because this way, I might remain invisible. This at least is what I told Claudia, Frank, and Pete. Claudia, who is wise to the ways of competition wisely said that I’d feel better after eating. And she was right. My blood sugar went back up and my attitude then changed for the better.
What I then realized was that Raudi had done a stellar job out on the trail, out of the vicinity of the horsemanship judge. In this respect, both she and I had done an extraordinary job. We worked as a team, with both of us exhibiting a high level of confidence. I was never once fearful or worried, and neither was she. There was no bulking, bucking, bolting, or rearing on her part, and no tensing up on my part.
I knew that explaining how I felt about my horse and our performance to other horse people would be as progress would remain inconsequential. No matter, deep down I knew, and I would always know, that our finishing this ride was a major accomplishment for us both. I also sensed that someday, I’d laugh about what had happened just an hour before.
I did go to the awards ceremony, in part because I knew that it was important to give homage to those who had done well in a more verifiable fashion. And I really didn’t want to appear like a sour grapes competitor
As it turned out, the Icelandic horse contingent again kicked butt. Pete and Tinni won an additional award. The pair netted the high point gaited horse award, beating out those in the competitive pleasure and open divisions. For their efforts, they won an additional ribbon and a saddle pad. I was pleased because Pete had done right in deciding to ride Tinni, an older horse, in the one day event. Amy Rogde also won two ribbons, taking second and third place in the open category. I was pleased because she’d taken my advice and ridden in the open category, a decision on her part that allowed her horse to excel. And Frank Sihler won sixth place in the competitive pleasure category. I was pleased because Frank has only been riding for six months. Claudia didn’t get a ribbon. However, I was pleased because she, who is a returning rider, repeatedly took her horse’s fitness into consideration by walking the barefoot mare on more questionable terrain.
So, I assisted Pete in packing up knowing that I could view Raudi’s performance in one of two ways. I could dwell upon it and consider it a mutual failing. Or I could put it behind me and say it was what it was. I did the latter. Raudi did the right things when it most counted. And we finished safe and sound. Lastly, in short order I’d turned my bad attitude around, and saw things for what they were really were. All of us, we are the champions.
Next: 200. 7/22/14: Lessons Learned: Still Thinking