The other day Batialo fell down in the rain…I held on, and managed to come back up still on top. My heart was racing…Adrenaline…
I read recently that life is a lot like a poker game…There is both an element of luck and skill involved, but essentially it all comes down to what you’re willing to risk…
There are days when Batialo walks down to the arena feeling like he is ready to leap sideways, or up, or across, or spin, at the slightest shift of any imaginary nothing around us.
When we set foot in the arena he charges off and I just fly along, keeping his attention through inside flexions and transitions, and praying a little that nothing leaps out of nowhere.
Of course those are the days when a dog runs across the arena, and the jumping ‘idiot’ decides to jump the dressage arena edge in front of me. The garbage truck comes, and then the man cuts a tree down off to the side. Oh and the new one is the people who drive past and toot their car horn at me, because that helps a lot!! Batialo now thinks his butt looks great 😉
But on the days when Batialo still somehow manages to stay within my control, and I somehow manage to not lose my cool…Those are the rides when I feel the most adrenaline, because he is letting himself go, but still listening to me.
You see dressage pairs where the rider has dominated the horse, then you see the ones where the horse wants to do what the rider asks of him…
My greatest ever memory as a kid was when my best friend and I would have galloping races up the hill on our property.
No helmet, completely out of control, we would let our horses go, and they would go! The horses learnt very quickly that we were racing, and race they did!!
Nothing made my heart beat faster. Nothing made me feel more free, more alive. I could forget the world for an instant… I was flying.
The last ever ride out with my dad he said he would race me across the paddock to bring the cattle back onto the farm. There were three paddocks between us and the cattle, and never being a person to shy away from a bet, I took off and he followed. We jumped three fences and galloped some miles to arrive on the neighbouring property, and I will never ever forget the look on my father’s face. I beat him, on a horse that was older than his. He was so proud.
Adrenaline…Is an interesting concept. We all get worried that we will get hurt, but is it a small part the possibility of getting hurt what makes life interesting?
If we rode around on bean bag chairs, that had no real living breathing chance of danger, would it be the same?
The major reason I ride is because of my relationship with horses…But do we as riders also love the adrenaline?
My friend said to me one day that if there wasn’t an element of danger, if I got a horse that just plopped along, well, he said I wouldn’t love it so much.
The best rides you have ever had, if you really asked yourself, were the ones where the horse is working with you, but you are letting him be free, not holding or dominating him.
It’s like when I was young and we would drag race the old cars on the wet tracks through the bush, and that moment when the car lost control but you could ease it gently around the track between the trees, was the most exciting part. You couldn’t steer, but you couldn’t just take your hands off the wheel either…
That is what it’s like when your horse is full of natural powerful energy. If you pull and get tense, it’s dangerous. If you leave him completely, you’ll end up back at the hay stack. So you must guide him, gently, keeping his attention without disturbing him so much that he loses his cool.
It’s not for everyone…At school some kids would say “you are crazy”, others would say, “awesome can I try?”…Some people, often people who are involved in some other sport, like to walk that line. They like a sport that involves adrenaline, or pain, or walking that line of control/out of control.
Maybe it’s just me. But I do feel that a small part of our sport and many sports revolves around the thrill of the risk. Ask a surfer what makes the waves so beautiful? It’s that you can’t tame them, they are not in your control…
But is it just sport?
They say that love is giving someone the power to destroy you but trusting them not to…
Does everything in life that involves the most risk, give us the most reward?
What defines us as riders, and what joins us to most people who love sport, is that in spite of the you might get hurt, you continue anyway… The line that you must learn to delicately balance, the knowledge that if you make the wrong move, put your balance to the wrong side, pull at the wrong time…Well, anything can happen.
What defines us as people, is that everything in life worth having, typically means having less of something else, or the risk that you might end up losing it all.