There are times in life when you look at somebody else for some inspiration. I’ve jumped on various bandwagons in my time, and each one had a different person that I pinned up as the driving inspiration. As life changes around me, and my ambitions become less glamorous, I am starting to see my bandwagons consolidating into one magnificent convoy.
I’ve always loved horses, and ridden since I was very little. My first pony was Sue, a tiny little grey Welsh pony who was the ripe old age of 18 when I inherited her from the rest of the family. She was quiet and solid and knew it all, and ferried me about while I learned how to sit quietly and still, how to balance, how to keep my heels down. Sue has gone to the great big pasture in the sky, I think she was 34 when she finally called it a day.
I borrowed a pony called Robin one summer, who was another well-aged old hand, and taught me to handle life with a bit more speed. Then the next year, I traded up to my sister’s horse, Domino. He was slightly younger (still 16), with a fiesty Arab spirit with which he stomped his Welsh Cob feet. He still knew everything, taught me everything, there wasn’t a single thing I could have done to shock him.
I’ve ridden hundreds of horses in my life, but one thing I’ve never done, or believed myself capable of doing, is training a young horse myself. I’ve always considered myself too inexperienced, or that a young horse would be too dangerous. That’s amusing, given how many riding schools here in England happily put me on their greenest horses week after week, and instructors would flippantly comment about how hardly any clients ride a particularly troublesome horse that I had enjoyed riding.
So, to the inspiration. Obviously, a big inspiration to me is Cowboy, who reassures me that I’d be a good horse trainer, if I only stopped believing I am a useless horsewoman. There are many other trainers and clinicians that I’ve watched and studied over the last two years, who have made me want to learn more and try it for myself.
Then I sat down and watched the video diary that Stacy Westfall has been releasing over the last few months. It shows the week by week progress of a young stud horse that she is training. She talks through everything calmly. She demonstrates what she’s doing, explains why. Some of it I don’t agree with, but a lot of it makes sense. What’s inspiring is seeing it look completely possible.
I hope to take on my own young horse in the near future, and build up the kind of bond that would open up a new world for me. It’ll be a world full of mistakes and struggles, no doubt, but the prospect excites me. I’m grateful for this kind of inspiration – the kind that makes ambitions look closer than they seemed before.