I always liked Saleem in white equipment. It is just such an annoying color to use on a daily basis. And then, along came the metallic colors, and with them, silver. Let’s be honest, Saleem looks awesome in silver, and it is an easier color to wear…
So my friends got me this beautiful saddle pad for Saleem, in silver, and of course we had to take some pictures of him in it. Thanks girls!
The ironic part is, when I was looking at this saddle pad, I imagined using it for competitions instead of the traditional white one. I never was good at fitting in, and being just one on the crowd. Now that I got it though, I have to admit, that won’t be the case.
I think I have had my curtain call.
For 18 years now, I have been surviving the equestrian world, trying to train my horses my way, ride my way, and still play the game of traditional dressage and jumping.
Seeing how the professional show jumpers were warmed up at the JBK festival, by the use of draw reins, spikes, double bits and god knows what else were strapped to the faces of these horses, and discovering that a professional horse is allowed to bleed in the show ring, as long as it makes it across the finish line alive- much like in horse racing- truly killed my spirits.
And then, seeing the National Championships in dressage right after, where the show was based on horsemanship- or what the equestrian world deems horsemanship- and realizing that even when they didn’t rollkur their horses, it still wasn’t a game, I wanted to be part off, I felt myself letting it all go, at very long last.
Somehow I always thought there was hope for the equestrian world. That if enough people, like me for instance, showed up and proved that you could ride your horse without force, something might change, one day in the future. Somehow I always hoped that one day, I would meet a dressage judge, who could tell that my horse was not pulled in at the front, but his head was placed exactly where his degree of collection and the anatomy of his neck, allowed it. Somehow, I hoped to make a difference, however small.
Riding at the DHE event earlier this month, was a bit of an eye opener for me. (DHE is short for “the whole equipage.”) There I was allowed to show my horse as he was, no one told me off for not pulling on the reins, no one amongst the audience snickered or made rude comments when someone didn’t do things quite right. I found a place there, where my hot blooded little headshaker was not frowned upon, and where we had nothing to prove, we could simply just be us.
So yes, with these pictures of Saleem and me in white, I am bowing out. I am done surviving. It is time to start living. I am leaving the game of the equestrian world, to hopefully become a much better equestrian myself. Which is why we had to take these pictures today, while I am still wearing equipment once in a while, like the saddle…
He does look amazing in white and silver, he truly does. And yes, this is my curtain call. When I named my book “Surviving the Equestrian World,” I didn’t even know how much I had truly been doing just that. Surviving.
No more. I think it is time I learned to ride, at long last, for the right reasons. To become one with my horse. Not to change the world, not to show people that it can be done differently, but simply to make a difference where it truly matters. For my horse.
And yep, we are still having a bit of trouble with the rhythm in the canter, and Saleem still wants to go up rather than across the obstacles, but he is trying as hard as he can, and he is very proud when he makes it. Jumping is a very good way for me to check how far we have come. I have had a lot of problems with his canter, and a lot of them are working out now, but trying to jump made me realize, we still have some way to go, before we can truly handle the task.
He wants to go too close to the obstacle. Here he is starting to get the idea…
Best picture of the day, I think, notice how careful he is, how concentrated he is, how much he is trying to solve this problem and how hard he finds it. This is a horse with a huge heart and a very sensitive mind.
Time to close the curtains on the equestrian world and look ahead into a future where I have at long last, nothing left to prove, except to my horse. I will prove to him, that I can do better, if he will have patience with me.