The Generosity Continues to Pour

Bimini's new County

Bimini and I have a new County Perfection Saddle! Yippee! I’m so excited. I think it’s the nicest thing that I have of my very own. Of course it’s all due to many more generous hearts. County is a sponsor of Lendon’s Youth Dressage Festival, and they awarded a prize of a new County saddle of the recipient’s choice to the winner of the Second Level Division. I was able to win the saddle back in 2011 when Betsy Tyler let me borrow her darling horse Romeo for the show. Let me tell you, that Betsy girl has one extraordinarily beautiful soul. County is amazing for awarding such an awesome prize, and I’m so thankful to them for honoring it all these years later! Many many many thanks to Dressage4Kids for making such an opportunity possible and to Marie McCullouch of Finger Lakes Saddle Solutions for putting everything together and making it happen!

I’ve always enjoyed riding in Courtney’s County Perfection saddles, but I’d like to think there is just something extra special about this one. It has the slightly longer flap to accommodate my legs, and it really feels like home. I don’t tend to be very high maintenance when it comes to the saddle fitting ME. As long as the horse is happy, I’m used to making anything work. But from the very first step of trot on Bimini I had to shout, “I love this saddle!” I feel like I can connect with Bimini more easily and that I can relax any tendencies to fight the tack and just ride. It takes away the noise I didn’t realize I had been tuning out. Yay for a saddle that was built to hug my body without interfering AND make a happy horsey!

Bimini has been clearly so much happier having his very own clothes. He has been sharing saddles with other horses that don’t quite fit the way that they should and having back soreness as a result. Within a couple of days of working in his new County, Bimini really felt like a different horse; this saddle has him so much more naturally relaxed over his topline and willing to connect.

After we got some hours in the new saddle, Marie McCullouch, our County representative came to make sure it was just right for Bimi. She came on the first day back to work after Courtney and I had been in Kentucky for a clinic for a few days, so I didn’t expect Bimi to be at his very best, but he had his halo polished and ready for his stretchy start. As Marie progressed through the adjustments she would fix a little something and then Bimi and I would test it out to see how it felt. The saddle continued to feel very nice to ride in for me, though midway through the adjustments Bimi’s collected work was a bit tight. It was seemingly normal resistance and I chalked it up to our first day back to work; however, it amazed me that Bimi’s back and willingness to collect changed dramatically after Marie’s final little adjustment. I didn’t change my riding or school anything to make him better in that time, the final shift of the wool just made him clearly so much more comfortable and free to use his top line!

Thanks again to all the contributors to this sport making these kinds of opportunities possible left and right. You’re awesome.

 

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Red

writingred

 

It’s story time! My best friend challenged me to blog about red lipstick. I was hoping to satisfy that by just slipping it in somewhere as a quick and silly metaphor, but now I’m thinking that might be going against the whole point. It’s funny how much weight a simple little act of Taylor Swifting your lips can carry.

For years now I’ve wanted to be able to rock bright red lips. What girl doesn’t go through this phase or at least of judging those who do? It seems like a fairly petty mind battle! It’s not really about the color. Sure, it can be fun and sexy if it’s done right, but it’s really about telling myself that I’m not the girl for whom that product was put in this world – being daring and loud and experimental is not something I am supposed to do. I’m the horse girl. I’m the get down and dirty, sweat and blood kind of a human being. So that means I need to play by those “rules” of that predetermined, assumed persona all the time, right? Wrong! What’s with the boxes??

Someone once asked me if I didn’t like getting really dressed up or if I didn’t like to often. I responded around about, “It’s not that I don’t like it, but I just don’t like looking like I’m trying too hard… or something.” (If it’s guaranteed that people around me will be all dolled up too, then great!) But really, I think I’m just afraid to stand out and of any attention that may bring. I’m incredibly afraid of someone assigning me to a box that’s the wrong shape for my heart.

I’m going to go a little bit deep here for a minute. Another dearly dearly beloved friend of mine sent this text to me the other night. “I think realizing that you need no one’s permission is the key to grace… and that includes permission from yourself. Permission giving is still being in control… grace is about recognizing that you can’t be in control.” Boy that summed up so many of the thoughts swirling in my brain with clarity I had not quite put my finger on. How did I get so lucky to have such brilliant friends? Read one of my favorite blog posts of hers here.

So instead of waiting for permission, why don’t we just accept that if we keep waiting, if we keep trying to have control, if we never let go of our insecurities, or let down our guard and peer out of our safety box, we never let grace in… and without grace, let’s face it, we’re toast. So why not drop all this talk of permission and boundaries and boxes? I don’t want to be the one to tell grace that she is not invited into my home. So what if she forces me to reveal and accept who I am or what I don’t understand about myself. She’s probably going to help me to teach my head not to always overrule my feel.

When I was a very little girl, I was completely obsessed with the “Pony Pals” book series. I was in a club that would send me two new books every month or so. I couldn’t wait until that day when a package addressed to me would come in the mailbox. I would spend the whole day buried in the little adventures of three horse-obsessed friends: Carol, Stevie, and Lisa. One part has stuck with me through all these years – I think it was Stevie who on once noticed a girl in the barn or at a show wearing fingernail polish. She saw it and thought to herself something judgmental along the lines of not wanting paint to be on HER fingers. I think it was YEARS after I read that before I let polish touch my fingernails again. Stevie was a fictional character, but she was my kind of girl. I wanted her to like me. I wanted her to be my friend.

The red lips (and fingers!) lesson is conveniently relevant to those spinning wheels of mine that are afraid to make mistakes when I ride. I distinctively remember one of my lessons with Lendon during one of the Robert Dover Horse Mastership EDAP weeks. I think things were basically going ok during my ride, but apparently I was too locked inside of my head… too zoned in… trapped in Tangoland. (Tango was the name of my trusty steed) During my lesson some of the other riders and auditors were sitting in the gazebo at C. Lendon gave them the job of holding up any given number of fingers for me to count and call out every time I passed by them. If I didn’t stop staring at the arena or my horse’s ears long enough to do so, I got yelled at. 🙂

There are lots of should and should not do’s, but sometimes I think I need to give myself the rule not to spend so much energy worrying about all the rules and lessons learned. Nothing changes if we’re always thinking of what we shouldn’t do or wish we hadn’t done.

Rules make me feel safe, like as long as I don’t do THAT I’ll be doing ok. Or if I just stick with what has worked for me in the past, I won’t fall off the deep end. But being stagnant is smelly and no fun at all, and being totally lost in my brain, checking off the do’s and don’ts before I make every move just sort of makes me miss life… Miss the experimenting that leads to figuring out what is even better than what I already know. Plus it seems kinda snobby to always be in lock-down processing mode.

Later, we went to Stillpoint Farm and watched some of the trainers there ride. At one point Robert was schooling an FEI horse while coaching another rider. Thinking and yammering away while making his horse do fancy things…? There was a group of us there, and Lendon specifically called out to me, “Koryn, could YOU do that?”… “Uh, Noooo.” Ha. Must focus. Must control. Must think. Must. Not. Make. Mistake. Hmmm.

I’m definitely not getting at, “Rules are made to be broken.” No, rules are important, and lessons are learned for a reason, but not everything has to be black and white. Why not let in some Red? So if you see me around somewhere sporting red lips, or say, blue strips in my hair… please don’t laugh. I’m either already very aware that I look ridiculous or finally proud of myself for lightening up and living outside of my box!

Immense Gratitude

Those who know me well know that I am not very comfortable publishing details about my life to the world.  But, there is just so much that deserves to be shared. There are so many lessons I am blessed enough to learn in my position as a student that it’s selfish of me to keep it all to myself. So, here I am, diving in, joining the rest of all the brave online sharers, and making it a goal to use this place to record events and lessons learned. As a devout dressage nerd, said lessons and news will probably be mostly about my four-legged friends, and we’ll see if any other musings on life start to emerge.

I have so much for which to be thankful. SO much. If anyone gets even a whiff of griping from me, please, slap me upside the head and set me straight. I’m not even sure where to start (as I should have long ago, there’s a lot of catching up to do). The thing is, even in my extreme attitude of gratitude (hey, that came out cute), I tend to keep a lot to myself in order to keep from sounding like a bragger disguising herself by proclaiming “blessings” and “thanks” but with the larger underlying, “Hey look at me, me, me, meeee and the awesome things that have happened in my life.” kind of character. That demeanor is a bit of a pet-peeve of mine. I think that most people sharing their lives have good, true intentions, but my fear of being taken as the occasional fake, self-consumed snob keeps me from sharing a lot of good news. However, I’ve realized that as I do with most lessons in life, I’ve taken it to the other end of the spectrum and by keeping so quiet, am truly not giving back to those that deserve so much more than I could ever give. So, here’s to changing that!

I realize I am in a really special position with my job. It’s so perfect for me! I could have never dreamed it up myself; it screams of a perfect designer.  The people growing my dreams beyond what I could drum up on my own are incredible. Time and time again I have been shocked by how freaking awesome people can be! I don’t deserve them. For one, my trainer, mentor, inspiration, and friend Courtney King-Dye has been more generous with sharing her mind, heart, and energy than I could ever think possible. I’m so glad to be able to learn from not only her world-class dressage skills but also the way she conducts herself as a professional and as a really cool human being. I continually recognize what an amazing thing this life is and wonder how it’s possible that I should be so lucky.

New friend Fargo

A couple of remarkably generous things have happened in the last few months.  I’ll start by sharing that most recently, a longtime friend and client of Courtney’s, Francine Walker, donated her fabulous horse, “Fargo” to Dressage4Kids.  I’m eternally grateful for the support of D4K (including Lendon Gray, Fern Feldman and the many others supporting the organization) for allowing Courtney to lease Fargo, Francine for her mind-blowing donation and heart, Courtney for her indescribable support and will to give me the chance to ride this fantastic horse, and Clair Glover for always giving, always helping, and always making room for us at Bel Air Farm.  My body was literally (in the true sense of the word not this fad of using it figuratively) shaking in shock and excitement when I heard the news of Fargo coming (which of all days happened on my birthday!).  So many amazing people have given, given, and given some more, and it’s more than a dream come true to be able to learn from it all.  It has already started, yet I can’t wait.