Thursday, February 26, 2015

True Confessions: Connection

I have always struggled with Connection.

No, not that kind of connection (well actually, yes that too).
But the kind of connection I am talking about is a kind of deeper emotional connection.

I have owned horses before. I have been responsible for their physical and mental well being. I have leased the same horse for extended periods of time.

But I can honestly say I have never felt deeply, emotionally connected to them. Sure, I liked them a lot. I worried about them and provided for them. But there seemed to be this whole other level that I never got to.

I never understood other people who let their riding be limited by or who changed their goals based on what their horse was capable of or wanted to do. Or people who ran into financial hardship, but refused to sell their horse. When that happened, yeah it was sad, but you did what you had to do and moved on. Right?

I think my level of detachment had roots in my formative riding years. I was a once-a-week, 1/2 hour, up-down lesson kid. The rotation of ponies changed, and I pretty much loved them all. Some I loved more than others, but I was pretty much happy to ride whatever came along.

Then came Speedy. Speedy was a new lesson pony that came into the program. He was called Speedy Gonzales, but he was actually quite slow. For whatever reason, I clicked with Speedy and rode him well. Even my instructor noticed. She mentioned to me the option to lease Speedy. I was over the moon with the idea. Until I got in the car to go home. When I mentioned the idea to my mom, it was immediately vetoed for financial reasons. We fought bitterly. I cried quite a bit. It was so unfair. Speedy and I were going places. 
Until we were not.

Speedy moved on to another leasee and was taken out of the lesson program.
This scenario was to play out over and over. I went to a summer camp for horseback riding. At the end of every summer, the horses were free leased out to campers for the winter. I can't tell you how many phone calls home there were, begging and pleading my parents to let me bring home Domino, my favorite camp horse.


Somewhere along the line, I decided to adopt the policy of "love the one you're with."
There was an old song by Crosby, Stills and Nash. The lyrics went "If you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with."

I decided that made sense. From then on, I enjoyed riding, but to protect myself, I think I limited my deeper connection to any particular horse. I rode horses that were not mine. They could be bought, sold, leased or moved at any time.

The reason I drag up all the ghosts of the past now, is that for the first time, feel like things have changed. Boca may not be the fanciest horse in the barn, or the most gifted or the best bred, but something happens when I see his kind, goofy face.

If Boca turns out to not want to jump or play hunters, I'm not sure I could let him go.
If my husband loses his job or I fall ill, I'm not sure his ticket to go is signed.

When I see his big white face, my spirits lift, and I am happy in a way that I haven't been in a long, long time.


  1. I fall in love. Hard. The first thing I said to my trainer when I started looking to buy was to find me a good one, because if we didn't work out, I honestly don't know if I could sell.

  2. I was always a rider who WANTED so badly to be deeply connected with every horse that I ever sat on. Now that I'm older and in theory more mature, I realize how much that wasn't the case. I have felt a real connection with only three horses in my life, and am very fortunate that my current partnership may be the strongest yet.

  3. i actually just talked about the 'love the one you're with' thing with my stepdad yesterday, and i compared it to my riding situations - as i suspect our riding backgrounds are fairly similar (tho i still have not stepped into the ownership arena).

    so how very exciting that you're finally feeling that deep connection and happiness!!

  4. You know, it's funny to hear you say this and then hear about your background. I too have never been one to fall deeply in love with a horse - I have no problem moving on from one to the next, and I've done so for all of my adult life. I have the same background as you - I grew up riding whatever I was put on (parents would not buy me a horse) and getting one horse after the next sold out from under me or leased to someone else. I've never really made that connection before but maybe you're right and it does have something to do with it.

  5. I had very similar experiences to yours with riding school horses. But once you have one that is all yours it is so much better. The connection I had with Steele was deep and I don't know if I can have it with another horse. I am connected with Irish but it was different with Steele. I'm hoping that I can build a connection with a new horse as well.

  6. I too envy people with these connections and think you may be on to something with all the change in my sketchy riding history. I love both my girls and am not sure I could part with them. But I read other people's blogs and they know so much about their ponies personalities and readily share that cool info at the drop of a hat whereas if i am asked to name a funny habit of my horse i am not sure I can...maybe I'm just wired funny.
    Perhaps having spent so long horse less i am clinging to these lovely creatures for fear of returning to that. And I do love them but am not sure they are the Heart horses so many describe their mounts to be...maybe they are and I just won't realise until the day tough decisions have to be made. Or maybe I am the heartless cold person I feel like when watching sad films and not crying...which brings me back to my faulty wiring

  7. :-) I never owned a horse til I was grown up and on my own, but my childhood riding instructor was the kindest person of all time, so she let me lease an nutty ottb mare all through high school and I loved that mare so much. I thought I loved my hell mare (but was actually terrified). My connection with my old man was like nothing I've experienced before. The little guy is starting to get to me, but in each case the connection is different. :-)

    So glad you're enjoying Boca. He sounds really cool.

  8. I totally feel you on this. I am still not even sure I have that deep, loving connection with Murray that I see some of my friends have with their horses. It's been 18 months together now, and while it would be hard, really hard, I could give him up if I had to. It's funny, too, because I fell hard for our dog Ellie, but my kitten is still growing on me (I almost gave him away over Christmas because the kids babysitting him for me wanted him so badly -- they offered me $30 of hard-earned pocket money!). And I see my friends falling for horses all around me, and sometimes I catch myself sitting there thinking "you have known that horse for two days, this isn't rational at all."

    I didn't have a school-horse experience as a kid, but I have moved countries (four times, if you count all the Africa moves) and I think I learned to be a little more guarded emotionally than I otherwise would be.

    Anyway, it's a very interesting thing to think about, indeed.