When I first started talking about doing endurance, which by the way requires a lot of time and energy spent with the horse, I wasn't sure how it would effect my relationship with J or with T. I was very interested in spending the time it would take to train and condition a horse to ride 50 to a 100 miles in one day, but I wasn't sure how that would work for my family.
J is a bit afraid of horses (which makes her taking off the leg wrap an act of immense courage) and has no real interest in riding. If I was spending all of my time with the horse and she wasn't, we wouldn't be spending time together. I was worried about that. I was worried that she wouldn't be interested and that I would have to choose between spending time with her or spending time with the horse.
I was less worried about T. He is already beginning to spend time with friends rather than with us and as he gets older that is going to happen more and more frequently. Right now, when he comes he plays on the play equipment, chases the rabbits or cats or goes out into the field and builds a fort in the trees. By the time Ashke and I are ready to do endurance, he will have his own life and excursions to participate in. He will always be a priority for us, but I am expecting us to become less and less of a priority for him as time goes on.
So, that takes us back to J. She has been amazing. When Steve first told me at the Christmas party that he would give me an Arabian gelding for free, J understood what that meant and didn't care that I withdrew so far into myself that I couldn't even talk. I sat at the dinner table with my hands clenched in front of me, shaking all over, so afraid to believe. She completely supported changing our timetable from October to April in order to bring him home. She spent two days in the car driving across flat land through unending construction zones to see him. And it was J who said we absolutely had to bring him home when I was struggling with the reality of his condition. She has been wholeheartedly committed to him and our success since the very beginning.
There has only been a couple of times I've gone to the barn without J. She knows our routine and Ashke loves her. She loves to feed him treats and there are certain things that she takes care of every time we go out. For starters, J brings the tack box out of the tack room and sets it where I can reach it. She then brushes out Ashke's forelock, mane and tail. She reminds me to do his feet when I forget. She feeds Ashke treats when he's being patient. I put the saddleblanket on him and hold it in place while she sets the saddle on his back. She carries the whip, stirrups and sometimes my helmet to the round pen. She helps with the shampooing and takes all of the photos and video while I am working. Then, J puts it all back away. She is patient and never in a hurry, allowing me the space to do what needs to be done.
I remember living with Roxanne when I had horses in Idaho. I wasn't able to spend any time with them because Roxanne always had other things for me to do. One day she told me to go spend whatever time I needed with the horses. I did. I spent a couple of hours cleaning out their stalls and replacing their bedding. I rode them both. I groomed them and loved on them. I was gone for several hours. When I returned to Roxanne's house all of my stuff was on the porch. She told me to move out since she was convinced that I was having an affair with someone. Smelling like horse dung and sweat didn't convince her. I moved myself and my horses soon after that.
Having a horse and spending time training and riding it takes time. It is one of those commodities that gets harder and harder to find. I am thankful and blessed to have such a wonderful partner, one who is as committed to Ashke's well being as I am and who is willing to make my dream a priority in her life.
I couldn't ask for a better wife, partner and parent to our son. Thanks J, for making the secret wish of my hidden heart come true.