Ode to My Trainer

I’ve told you all ad nauseam how much I love my trainer. How she pushes me, teaches me, keeps Frankie fit and healthy. She truly works so hard for her clients and it’s inspiring to see.

But when I take a step back and look at the last few years with her (it’ll be three years next week!), I realized that she’s done so much more than that.

She has believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, and she’s put in time and effort on my behalf countless times when there was pretty much nothing in it for her.

You may remember that I didn’t start out with her as a competitor. I started out as a once-a-week group lesson rider with no horse and no shows on the calendar. Heck, I couldn’t afford a horse or shows at that point. My trainer was making next to no money from having me as a client.

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A few months into riding with Trainer

After only two lessons, she went out of her way to arrange a half-lease for me. She didn’t get a commission on that and my payments all went directly to Addy’s owner, but she thought it would be good for the horse and knew I wanted to ride. So she made it happen.

When I eventually scraped together some money for shows, she made sure to let me know when the nearby local ones were happening and rallied other riders to go too, knowing those were the only ones I could afford.

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She drove almost 4 hours round-trip in one day so I could afford a rated show

When I said I wanted to buy a horse to go do the 1.0m Adult Jumpers, she told me to dream bigger and found a mount to take me to 1.10m and beyond. Despite the fact that I had never competed over 3′.

Countless times she has sat with me after lessons to talk about how to word a sale ad, common conformation flaws, how course design affects the ride, the nutrient content of our feed, considerations when matching a horse and rider, potential upcoming USEF rule changes and the implications of those, and every other topic under the sun about the equine industry.

She has gone into the warmup ring and rattled, soothed, riled, encouraged me by turns, somehow always knowing what will get me into the ring feeling my best. She knows when to say, “not bad, but wait with your shoulders,” and when to say, “GET MAD AND DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.” She never fails to send me in with a pat and a “go have fun!”

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And she has fantastic taste in hunt coats

And a few weeks ago at Finals, as I was managing my second warmup of the morning and trying to overcome some mental hurdles, she pulled me in for a rare quiet moment. She looked me square in the eye and said:

“You deserve to be here. Don’t think for one second that you don’t. You have just as much of a chance to go lay this down as any other rider here. You’ve earned your spot in this competition.”

Somehow, without me ever verbalizing (and without me fully realizing it myself), she understood those insidious feelings of inadequacy that we all face every so often. She confronted them head on and gave me her confidence when she knew my own was low.

Of course I’m happy with my trainer from a “checkbox” perspective: my horse is healthy and happy, we are progressing steadily and safely, and we are continuously adding new skills to the toolbox. But she has my loyalty for so much more than that.

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She has taken me from this…
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…to this.

I’m one of my trainer’s more involved clients now: I board my horse with her, I utilize her training services in addition to my own lessons, I compete at the big shows regularly. But I’ll never forget that she’s been going to bat for me and believing in my dreams since I was just another lesson kid.

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Cheers To The Support System

2016 has been a huge, incredible year for Frankie and me. This post is dedicated to everyone who made it that way.

Here’s to my parents, who drove me to the barn every day without fail. Who woke up with me at 4:30am to go stand in the cold and cheer as I made it around 4 crossrails. Who held my horse, polished my boots, learned what a martingale was, signed the checks, took the videos. Who listened as their now-grown-up daughter gushed about taking lessons, then about leasing a horse, then about horse shows, then about this horse that I HAD to have. Who came to visit and spent the whole weekend at a horse show without complaint. Who don’t really understand the whole horse obsession, but know they don’t need to “get” it to be there.

Here’s to the friends who understand why I can’t make it to happy hour. Who listen over and over and over again as I belabor the fact that our impulsion and adjustability is really developing (because I realize that is absolute gibberish). Who wish me luck at shows and don’t complain about the fact that my car smells like manure and even come to the barn sometimes to visit.

Here’s to the ammies at the barn, who bring wine to horse shows to either toast our successes or drown our sorrows. Who keep an eye on each others’ horses when we go on vacation. Who take video for each other in lessons and empathize, “we’ve all had days like that,” when things go wrong. Who are the first to cheer when things go right.

Here’s to Frankie’s healthcare team: the vet, who lets me watch over his shoulder and ask a thousand questions every time I see him. Who excitedly shares his knowledge and philosophies every step of the way. Who came out at short notice to vet several horses and gave a clear, unbiased answer about strengths and limitations of each horse. And the farrier, who has kept my horse’s feet healthy and has never failed to tack a shoe back on within 24 hours.

Here’s to the barn team managing Frankie every day. The ones that make sure Frankie has a clean, dry stall and fresh water. Who come in late at night to check on him. Who make sure he is warm and fed in the midst of thunderstorms and blizzards. Who work tirelessly to make sure the entire facility is safe and clean no matter what.

Here’s to the barn manager, who carefully considers what nutrition Frankie needs to perform. Who manages his shoeing and deworming and vaccinations and a million other things to keep him healthy and happy and thriving. Who considers education and sharing knowledge with the boarders to be part of the job description.

Here’s to Trainer past, who instilled in me the love of the horse and the absolute necessity of good care. Who drilled “heels down, eyes up” into my memory until I recited those words under my breath while asleep. Who let me tag along every day to be jump crew, groom, warmup rider, course setter, and general shadow to soak up everything I could. Who even now, encourages and supports me from afar.

Here’s to Trainer present, who has taken my passion and taught me guts. Who sees my craving for more time in the ring and sees my empty wallet and tells me, “we’ll figure something out.” Who pushes me to do  more than I ever thought I could, demands excellence, and is the first to say “great job!” when we have a breakthrough. Who believes in my big goals and takes the time to figure out how to realistically get me there. Who demonstrates over and over again that the goal is not a quick buck, but a relationship built on trust and respect.

Frankie and I absolutely 100% could not have accomplished what we have this year without the encouragement and guidance of our whole support system. We love you all, and thank you for such an amazing year!

Wordless Wednesday- New Plates

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Coming soon to a Jeep near you. Well, near you if you’re in NOVA.

PS- I’m still in the process of responding to comments, but I can’t express to you just how happy I was to read all of your encouragement and positivity yesterday. I should’ve known that my blog people would be the best. Seriously, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the wonderful supportive people that you are. I’m one lucky girl to have a tribe like you all. I raise a Dorito to you as a toast.

PPS- The farrier came out and Addy’s feet look 1000x better! He said he sees this type of thing happen a lot this time of year with the new grass, changing ground conditions, heavier workload, etc. and said that he would keep a close eye and trim more often since her feet are growing so fast. He said glue-ons or going barefoot are options if we want, but he wasn’t concerned about the health of her feet- any weaknesses were superficial and looked worse than they really were. Big sigh of relief. I’m still going to chat with Owner Lady about any other steps we can take to make sure Beastly maintains her nice healthy tootsies. Thank you all for the amazing information!! It was beyond helpful and I feel like I could actually carry on a knowledgeable conversation about hoof health.

PPPS- I like to think I’m moderately talented at a variety of things. Keeping the “wordless” in “wordless wednesday” is not one of those things.