What do horses and roller coasters have in common?
Updated: Oct 29, 2019
Okay readers, I have been thinking all day long about content for my next blog post. The thought process about content is a lot about what happens in my day to day life, fun encounters with motherhood, my overall social awkwardness, and questions that I get asked a lot.
Today I thought I would address one of the questions that I get asked a lot. The question comes in different forms, depending on the style of riding that I am teaching or doing at the moment. Whats it like...? Karlie, whats it like when you first put your foot in the stirrup of a new horse? Karlie, what is it like when you and your horse step into the alley way at a rodeo? Karlie what is it like when you and your horse are flying over jumps? Well, allow me a few moments of your time to do my best to put into words the rush of emotions that happen so quickly that you almost don't realize you are feeling them until they are gone.
Teaching young horses is one of the most frustrating and irritating aspects of my job, however it comes with some of the biggest rewards. Working with young horses is like trying to teach a 2 year old that has the strength of an Olympian wrestler how to do quantum physics. It is a constant adrenaline rush, due to the increased state of awareness that they put you in. Horses by nature are prey animals, so it takes a lot of work to convince them that we, as humans, are trustworthy and should be allowed on their backs. They typically respond in dramatic flight responses, so as riders we must be in a constant state of awareness in case they go into a flight response. The moment that I feel the horse relax under my leg, when their heart rate slows, and their breathing evens, I know that we are about to make extraordinary bounds in training and learning.
Quick side note, I am adrenaline junky, hard core!! I love pretty horses that are great at their jobs!
Barrel racing is another sport I am very active in, and I can honestly say that there is no other equestrian sport that combines so much athleticism and finesse in the least amount of time. My barrel horse is spoiled rotten and she knows it, she will prance around in her protective boots, with her fresh conditioner in her hair while eating the best alfalfa I can find for her. Meanwhile I am at the back of the truck digging for a granola bar that I may or may not have thrown into the back seat 4 weeks ago. However the minute, I throw my saddle on her back, step my foot in the stirrup and walk to the back of the arena, she is in work mode. There is something about the sounds of the crowds, the squelch of the announcer, and the phrase "come running.." that will send my heart to my stomach. You know that moment when you are on a roller coaster, and it reaches the very top, right before the drop. As the rider, you know its coming, you signed up for it, however as you roll over the edge you scream in excitement. That is what barrel racing is like, minus the screaming for me. I love the rush of the sport, the excitement of running fast, trusting my horse to make the turns we have trained so hard for, and hearing my daughter from the top of the bleachers yelling "GO MOMMA GO!"
The hunter/jumper world, is a whole different cookie all together. Where barrel racing allows me to be a little bit wild, jumping is almost like a meditation for me. There is so much rhythm and cadence to the work. As I am riding up to a jump, I hear the beats in my mind, one two three, one two three, one two ... I feel the horse lean back into their haunches and start to power up. They launch into the air, as I go forward up the neck to release my hands for the horse to reach into the jump the rush quiets. It as this moment that the world actually goes quiet for me, I can not hear the crowds in the stands anymore, or the sound of my own heart beat. For this briefest moment in time, when all four feet are off the ground, my mind is clear and I have no other worries in the world. When I exit the arena, my daughter reaches to grab my horse and says "MOMMA, YOU FLEW!"
She is my biggest supporter and the driving force that put me back in the saddle. It is hard at times but she, along with many of my students admire me more as an instructor when they see me in the saddle.
This my readers is the closest description that I can give to what it is like to be on the back of a horse doing the things that I love to do.
Until next time ...