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February 21, 2017: The Horse Life: A Letter to Beth Theisen

I have not ever written a dispatch that has taken the form of a letter, simply because this had never occurred to me, that is until today. This morning I got a phone call from Beth Theisen – a few years back Rosie (that is what she called Raudi) and I took lessons with her. This was for an entire summer. Hearing from Beth got me to thinking that I should write her a letter. This way, I could say some things that I did not get to say in our altogether too short phone conversation.

Dear Beth:

Thank you ever so much for calling me this morning. You brightened an overcast, snowy winter day in a big way when you said that you enjoyed reading my dispatches, and then gave some examples. No one has ever done this before. And I doubt that anyone will ever do this again.

I have, at the very most 3-4 readers and this may be a bit of an exaggeration. But I keep cranking out the dispatches because this enables me to make sense of the goings on in my day-to-day life. You were right when you too noticed this.

I will cut to the chase here. I told you that I stopped coming to watch you give lessons because I felt like I was in the way. This is partially true. There’s also another, equally valid reason. Remember that I told you that I was writing a book about what I learned in taking lessons with you? Well, I never finished this book. And I felt majorly embarrassed about this.

Here’s the deal. I did not finish the book because the story is still unfolding. The summer Rosie and I spent under your tutelage was just a catalyst for a related series of events. At some point I will know that the story is complete. But right now it’s still ongoing. This is a little disconcerting but at the same time revelatory. Mine is truly the life being lived.

I remember mentioning to you that I was wanting to instruct. This then was just a pipe dream and I really did not believe it would come to be. I’m now a Centered Riding Instructor, Level 1, and by the summer’s end will be a Level II instructor. I have instructed here and out of state, and have organized several Centered Riding clinics, all of which have gone really well.

You inspired me, and I keep in mind the most important thing that you taught me when I teach. This is the power of positive thinking. You always frame your feedback so that your students, in concluding their lessons, feel like they and their horses did a great job. And this feedback is not at all gratuitous. Rather, it is earned.

My horse Rosie (this is what you called her) has always been a challenge to ride. She has always been smart, willful, and of the mind that she should be able to do as she pleases. I did not know that horses were any other way until a few of ours came of age.

Somehow, you convinced her that arena work was fun, as was working in concert with her owner. In other words, you instilled a work ethic in her that has come in handy while out on the trail. As for jumping – she was one tough customer.

I don’t know if I am going to again take jumping lessons with her. I’ll decide when spring rolls around. This past spring Pete drove down to Bellingham, WA and brought back another Icelandic mare, Tyra fra Tuskast. She’s 3, will be 4 in June. She’s copper colored with no markings, and is really light on her feet. She’s also exceedingly friendly and eager to please. She only scored high in one area in her breeding evaluation last May, and this was in the area of courageousness.

Horses tell us what they think their occupations might be – and Tyra seems to be telling me that she’s going to be a jumper. And so, I am looking forward to your working with us.

In the meantime, I will come and watch you instruct when the weather gets better. I’m already looking forward to this. Again, thank you ever so much for taking the time to call and talk with me.


Next: 53. 2/22/17: The Writing Life: Odds n Ends and Bric a Brac

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