Monday, March 9, 2015

Blog Title Change

When I started this blog, three years ago, it was to chronicle my journey with Ashke, from meeting him the first time, through our journey to get him healthy and hale, to our first steps on the road to Endurance. That was my goal, hence when I started writing, the blog title was Thee Ashke, Endurance Horse Extraordinaire.

 Summer, 2013

Then, as me worked through the issues Ashke brought with him, I began to suspect that we would never be able to ride an endurance ride, since I'm pretty sure with his gait and stifle and hip we would not pass the pre-ride physical (if a horse like Q, who had no issues, but does have an unusual gait is having problems, we don't stand a chance.) I let go of that dream, which I am still letting go of. Because I think at the heart of that wish is not the opportunity to ride a long distance in a competition, but rather to find, explore and ride on trails, for longer and longer distances. To see and explore all of the new places we haven't seen or explored yet. We have a lot of opportunity to do so, and if we run out of local trails, there are lots and lots of places to ride within a two hour drive.

Fall, 2013

Back in 2012, I made the decision to change what my focus was to match what we were going to do with the abilities of my horse. I wasn't going to replace him with a horse that could do endurance, because I already recognized that we had the potential to become something even more important to me: my co-being, my other half. That was what I really wanted. At that point I changed the title from Endurance Horse Extraordinaire, to Horse Extraordinaire, because, let's face it, he is. 

So, as much as he has changed, I have changed as well. When we first started riding, I was wearing jeans, cowboy boots, and riding in an Aussie saddle. Since then I have been introduced to the idea of breeches (they don't rub and are amazingly comfortable), paddock boots (more comfortable than cowboy boots and waterproof and lightweight) and have moved from an Aussie saddle to the Alta. I am much more likely to be seen at the barn in breeches and half-chaps than in levis and boots. These changes have occurred because I am more comfortable in the new style of clothing than I am in the old. And full seat breeches are pure bliss. But just because the outside has changed, does not mean the inside is gone.

Admit it: You want me.

The deepest part of me is still a cowboy. Yes, a cowboy, not a cowgirl. The oldest, deepest meaning of the word. A rider who was good with a horse, could handle a rope, could build a fire, could shoot a gun, could roll out of bed in the morning and ride all day. The cowboy that was immortalized in books like Monte Walsh by Jack Schaffer, or To Tame a Land, by Louis L'amour. The only other riders that were better were the Plains Indians (Cheyenne, Lakota, Comanche) of the great horse culture of the west. Those were my heroes growing up and still live on in the recesses of my soul.

Working Equitation is an amalgamation of all of those things. I can wear breeches to ride, with half-chaps and boots. We can work cattle. We can do obstacles and speed runs. We can demonstrate our control and relaxation in the dressage portion of our test. It really is a good discipline for both of us. And we can ride trails. As many as we can fit in, in all areas of our region. And on trail it doesn't matter what I wear or who I am. 

Some day last week, my iPhone began playing a song. It was God Must Be a Cowboy, sang by Chris Ladoux and written by Dan Seals. The refrain has been running through my mind for the last week (when it's not Andrea Bocelli) and it seems to sum up us.

And I think God must be a cowboy at heart
He made wide open spaces from the start
He made grass and trees and mountains
And a horse to be a friend
And trails to lead old cowboys home again


  1. Great title. And isn't it interesting how our goals for ourselves and our horses evolve over time as we come to a better understanding of both horse and rider's strengths and interests. And that we love them enough to change our goals rather than our horses. I also thought that Queenie and I might want to do endurance riding but a trip to a park that had trails with terrain similar to the endurance ride convinced me that Queenie and I both had physical limitations that meant even a limited distance ride was not possible. So my goal now is to find fun trails and interesting people to ride with and just enjoy my wonderful horse as we walk new trails and enjoy the scenery. And we know that even a "simple" trail ride can lead to unexpected adventures!

  2. Isn't it wonderful how unpredictable our life with horses is? I love that you can be true to yourself and gain an awesome partner with Ashke. Endurance riding is a giant pain in the ass anyway:)

  3. I think the most important thing with our horses is that we enjoy them and have fun. ;) Love the new title and this post!