When my coach’s truck pulled into her friend’s farm, I didn’t immediately recognize the place from my youth. After all, a child’s memory is fickle and depends so heavily on context. The last time I’d seen the farm, I was probably clutching my ill-fitting velvet riding helmet in my lap and eagerly straining my head to look out the window. I very likely still had chocolate icing from the morning’s doughnut on my face as I waited with my sticky little kid fingers on the car door handle, anticipating the brakes finally slowing the car enough so I could fling the door open and run toward the barn. I probably got in trouble for that, but it didn’t matter. I was long gone by the time whichever parent had unbuckled their seatbelt and turned around to chastise me.
As I scanned the familiar riding arena sixteen years later after a far more sensible (very early) morning breakfast of coffee and a bagel, recognition suddenly kicked in. “This is where I started riding as a kid!” I practically screeched.
Though the farm has since changed hands and names, a relic of its past identity hung in the darkened lounge: “Rose Ridge Farms.”
It was here that I fell in love with a horse for the first time, and here is where my heart was broken when that horse was sadly put down. I cantered and jumped for the very first time here; I also fell off for the first time. Every fiber of my little kid soul ached to be here for roughly 167 hours of the 168 hour-long week. My dreams, if not born here, were nourished here.
Riding Ned back in 1998
The other day, as I tore into a new package of whiteout at my office, I caught myself. I had made the order for the corrective tape myself after several coworkers had passed by my desk in a vain hunt for it, yet once it arrived it just sat ineffectually by the printer. Finally, I found a use for it. “Awwwww yeeeeah,” I thought, giddy with anticipation.
Then I thought, “Wait. What the hell is wrong with me?”
I slipped quietly out of my office at 5:00 sharp and into the bathroom to change into thermal breeches. I layered two pairs of socks, a thermal shirt, polo shirt, hoodie, and windbreaker until I resembled Ralphie’s younger brother, Randy, from A Christmas Story.
Busy: it’s both commonly bemoaned and universally worshiped, at least in the states. Lifestyle magazines across the board cater their content to their frazzled readership – I dare you to browse the magazine aisle and count the covers that don’t include some headline along the lines of “No Fuss Recipes for your most hectic days,” “Fitness secrets for the busy mom!”– and fast food restaurants have built empires on the backs of our fast lane lifestyles.
Not that I’m complaining. I am thankful for the job, friends, and experiences that keep me so swamped. However, more often than not, perspective is a whisper, not a shout, and it often goes unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Photo Credit: CHPCC.org
“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
“And he’ll do it in five, you think?”
I am staring down a line of fences set up by my coach, shading my eyes with one gloved hand and holding a braided pair of leather reins in the other. Secretly, I am thanking the intrusive late afternoon sun for disguising my expression of concern and self doubt as one of simply squinting into the sunlight. I’ve been on a losing streak lately and I am anticipating another hot mess, but the knowledge that this anxiety is going to negatively affect my ride only amplifies it. I roll gently upward as Ed, my mount, casually stomps at a pestering insect.
After my coach affirms that yes, he’ll do the first line in five strides, I ask, “You think I should trot in or canter in?”
I am buying time.
Just a few short years ago, I was still in college at Georgia State University, sitting in the student center with a friend while a club fair was taking place on the city streets outside. We were languidly draped across some mass-marketed contempo-esque* furniture, people watching like we were born to do it: smirking, rolling our eyes, flippantly dismissing the endless enthusiasm of our eager young peers.
Until I spotted it: a black velvet riding helmet.
Unmistakable in the otherwise bustling, urban, environment, it was resting on a folding table along with a virtually empty sign-up sheet and a poster board advertising Georgia State’s equestrian club.
“I have to go! Bye!” I screamed over my shoulder as I vaulted over chairs and bowled into students in my rush to get to the street before the mirage evaporated.
One of many conditions that all people probably share is the the cruel inner whispers of doubt about who we are, what we can do, and where we belong. I have always felt like an outsider. No matter which party I go to, what crowd I’m with, etc., there is almost always a hushed little mean girl in the back of my mind, reminding me in bored, condescending tones, “You don’t belong here.”
Saturday at Dragon*Con, this voice was sent to its room to think about its actions and not come out until it’s ready to behave.
War Horse, a movie based off a famous play that makes use of seriously epic puppetry, tells the story of a horse who’s swept up into World War I. As a film, it falls short in several places and does well in others, but I’m no movie critic and I won’t pretend to be. However, I am a horseperson, so it behooves me (haha. get it?) to point out the movie’s major incongruities with reality when it comes to horses. War Horse is certainly not the only movie guilty of misrepresentation, and horses are not the only misrepresented characters in film. Nevertheless, here are a few of the things that War Horse gets wrong – and a few things it gets right – about horses.
Posted in Blogs, Equestrian
Tagged Canton, Elizabeth Clymer, equestrian, Film, Georgia, horseback riding, horses, Humor, Joey, War Horse, War Horse movie