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August 19, 2013: Moving Forward, Finally

Those of you who have been reading my 2013 dispatches might recall that for some time Raudi and I had reached an impasse, with her being unwilling about trotting. I also noted that there was a correspondence between my own sense of career related stuckness.

I forgot about this ongoing struggle, but I was reminded of it this past weekend. I am not sure how Raudi and I became unstuck, but we are now both moving forward in a way I never previously thought imaginable. This forward movement began on the Happy Jack endurance ride in Laramie--I think the day I rode with CJ. And it continued as we did a 25 mile ride. And it now continues. This past weekend we

participated in the I know you Rider endurance ride outside of Evanston, WY.

There were three thirty and fifty mile rides, one Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. There were also some 10 mile fun rides. Pete and I did a fun ride on Friday. Saturday we accompanied Karen Olsen Fields who came with her friends Leann and Kathy, and their three Icelandics. Karen badly wanted me to ride Leila, one of her horses, and so I obliged.

Admittedly, the ride didn’t go well. I rode Leila at the start of the ride, but opted to get off her and ride Signy and pony Raudi. I soon realized that the reason why this ride didn’t go well was because Leila’s world view is different than Raudi’s world view. I now feel very comfortable on Raudi, and now also very confident. This, I additionally realized, is such a change from the way it was before this trip. Indeed, we are now a team.

This revelation bolstered my confidence on Sunday, when Pete and I did the thirty mile ride. We participated in the mass start, something that previously terrified me. And we continued on out the trail at a fast clip. This also used to scare me. My sense was that all was right with everything. And because of this, I did not hold Raudi back. When asked, she trotted and cantered. It was as though at times we both just knew what speed we should go at. Both us of were determined to keep up with the riders in front of us.

At fifteen miles, right before the veterinary check, she and another horse picked up a canter that quickly became a gallop. I knew that I should slow her down, because her pulse would be high. But I let her go because this was my way of telling her that finally, I was no longer fearful about our going fast.

Finally, she slowed, and we walked into the vet check area. Her pulse was 68, but in just a few minute’s time slowed to 60. So, 45 minutes later, on we went, through a cow pasture and across a muddy creek. No problem, I thought, although this would have been so a year or two ago.

We resumed trotting after going through a series of five gates. And the finish came altogether too soon. Imagine, me saying that the finish came too soon. I wanted to keep going, and so did Raudi.

Raudi’s pulse was high at the final vet check. All present assisted me in getting her cooled down. We removed her tack, had her stand quietly in the shade, and doused her with water. I also did ear slides on her and lick of the cow’s tongue on her belly. When, finally, her pulse was 60, we had a final veterinary check. At the moment that Raudi was cleared, I burst into tears. I could not explain, but it was a moment in which I realized just how far this little horse and I have come. Had nine years ago, I had been able to foreseen that we’d be doing an endurance ride in Wyoming I’d have been aghast.

I cannot say yet what this breakthrough means in terms of my career. I have not written much this summer. Rather, I have been living the life. Both Pete and I have had a summer that was not as we envisioned it. Losing Siggi culminated in a change of plans that took our trip in a completely differing direction. It has subsequently been a summer in which we’ve made many friends and had many good times.

One of my newest friends is Ronnie, a woman who routinely does 50 miles on a large Arab named Kipling. This morning, right before we parted company, she remarked that endurance riding is not about winning but rather is about setting and meeting your own personal goals. I hoped in taking on this venture was simply to feel more confident in riding Raudi. And I did it.

I suspect that the next phase of our relationship is going to be to learn to move sideways. Ahead, lessons, arena work. I would like us both to become more supple, mentally and physically. In the meantime, we are going to enjoy what remains of the summer. Our next stop is going to be Driggs, Idaho where Pete and I are going to do our first ultra-light pack trip.

Attached, a photo of Pete on an Arab who is owned by one of our new friends, a fellow named Robert. Pete is far more fearless than I ever will be. From him, I am learning many things. But that’s the subject of yet another dispatch.

Next: 159: 8/20/13: Pete