In the Night Farm…Your Ride is Here.

Another Round

It’s already January!
It’s only January.

Photo by Michael Ensch

This is the time of year for looking back at last summer’s photos with a sigh, tracing the seat of my Stonewall every time I cross the tack room, and reminding myself that it is good for Consolation to rest.  I’ve scarcely ridden since the big snow that buried my farm in November, considerable traces of which remain, gleaming under the moonlight on this 8 degree morning.

For now, I am (mostly) content to pursue my wintertime focus on my own fitness and study.  I even found time to read a novel, last week.  But with the new year comes the urge to plan.  

I’ve already spent a daydreamy hour with a calendar and the AERC website, mapping out the upcoming ride season.  I glanced back over Aaruba’s and Consolation’s conditioning logs that charted each ride’s length in time and distance.  I even pulled up my old spreadsheet — remember? — designed to plan training sessions and equine workouts for the entire year.

I didn’t fill it in, though.

Tell me, have you noticed the change since The Barb Wire began in 2008?  Have you seen my inflexible schedule bow under the pressure of competing interests, financial shortfalls, emotional shakeups, human and equine injuries — in short, under real life?  Have you observed my growing ability to accept this?

To a personality such as mine, which thrives on ironclad commitment, such flexibility tends to feel like weakness.  So what if I had a hard week?  I must get through eight training sessions over the weekend because I said I would.  Because I’ll never get where I’m going if I don’t take a step today.  Because time waits for no man. 

There’s truth to that.  I took on five, untouched Barbs, which have since foaled out to make eight, plus a troubled Arabian whose mind took a year of groundwork to rebuild.  None of these horses are getting younger.  Or cheaper.  If I want to use them, I must train them, and the clock is ticking.

But do you see the flaw?  It’s a common one, so familiar that it virtually disappears inside my argument with myself.  Yet, there it is:  The same, old failure to distinguish between journey and destination.  Worse, the assumption that an ultimate destination even exists.

To be fair, at one time, there really was a destination.  I wanted to compete in endurance.  But now I have arrived.  I do endurance.  And I love it more than most things in life.  Here’s the part I didn’t expect:  For all that I enjoy racing, and all that I learn from it, the thing itself is less illuminating than the road that got me there.

The real heart of horsemanship is not at the crowded start, nor on the trail with twenty miles behind and thirty to go, nor among friends at the award dinner come evening.  It is at home, in the round corral, amid the dust and sweat and sun.  It is in the glassy eye melted black with trust, the rush of breath and lowered head, the silent conversation that magics us from two to one. 

Endurance is a thrill, but icing is nothing without the cake.

And so, 2011.  This is a year to enjoy the journey.  Acey is ready for miles of discussion to safely direct her exuberance.  Ripple has been backed, but only just.  Her brother Crackerjack is about ready to get serious.  I really want to spend more time with Sandstorm.  

And there’s Consolation — finally a partner, for all our trials.  I hope the road leads us to some new rides this year.  With luck, we’ll explore a bit of Oregon and Utah.  Perhaps we’ll try a 75.  Perhaps not.  We’ll take it as it comes, and remember to enjoy the ride.

Here’s to another round.

23 responses

  1. Tom

    Awesome post! Thanks for sharing. Horses are so wonderful with helping us enjoy the journey if we are willing to pay attention to them.

    Happy New Year!

    January 1, 2011 at 8:41 am

    • Happy New Year, Tom! Indeed, there are many ways in which horses are wiser than men.

      January 1, 2011 at 8:48 am

  2. I am all for the changes you have made in yourself and believe they will lead you to a very peaceful (but exciting) new year. There is something to be said for home and deeply caring for all of your four legged friends. I would love to see more photographs of all the horses you have now.

    January 1, 2011 at 8:44 am

    • Thanks, Lori, and happy new year to you! I’ll pass along that photo request to Ironman, which is a much better photographer than I — and who, unlike me, has a working camera at the moment. Mine broke!

      January 1, 2011 at 8:49 am

  3. Enjoyed the post today and especially like the quote “Endurance is a thrill, but icing is nothing without the cake.” I second the request for more photos. 🙂 Love the choice for todays. 🙂

    January 1, 2011 at 11:03 am

    • Thanks, Shana. I’m jealous that you’ve been out riding! Any chance of seeing you on the trails this year? Strawberry Fields, maybe??

      January 1, 2011 at 11:09 am

  4. Dom

    Love the photo choice. I too am trying to resist the urge to plan the heck out of this year. I’ve seen time and time again that the best laid plans will fall to ruin. Happy New Year and best of luck in the upcoming ride season 🙂

    January 1, 2011 at 11:13 am

    • Best wishes to you as well, Dom! Oh…it is SO tempting to lay those plans…but you’re right. I know you’re right.

      January 1, 2011 at 11:15 am

  5. What a journey it’s been. 2010 sure made me take a different perspective on things for the upcoming year. With so many difficult moments and disappointments in the past year, 2011 is going to be about taking a deep breath for me, enjoy my horses without a set “agenda”, and taking in as many experiences as I can with my horses. A ride or two maybe… we’ll just have to see. Looking forward to see your progress with your other Barbs. Good luck for the upcoming ride season.

    January 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    • Thanks, Jonna. I’m eager to see what your year brings.

      January 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm

  6. sj

    This part is absolutely brilliant:

    “The real heart of horsemanship is not at the crowded start, nor on the trail with twenty miles behind and thirty to go, nor among friends at the award dinner come evening. It is at home, in the round corral, amid the dust and sweat and sun. It is in the glassy eye melted black with trust, the rush of breath and lowered head, the silent conversation that magics us from two to one.”

    I’m gonna be quoting you.


    January 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm

  7. Pingback: Welcome to the January 2011 Blog Carnival of Horses! | EQUINE Ink

  8. I didn’t know if you’d quit blogging your ironclad goals or if your goals were just becoming less rigid. I am SO glad to hear that you’re enjoying the journey now. Life is short – enjoy the process, not just the result.

    January 2, 2011 at 11:01 am

    • 🙂 Oh, I’ve enjoyed the journey all along — but too much rigidity, while producing satisfying results, has a way of doing too much collaretal damage.

      January 2, 2011 at 11:08 am

  9. Rosanne

    I have been away for awhile to a place with no internet. It was a nice break…but I missed reading your blog. My hubby sounds very much like you. He still sets goals, but has learned to go with the flow. Endurance and horses always seem to throw you a curve just when you think you’ve got them figured out. He still makes his plans, but has learned to let go when he needs to. I too, would love to see more photos of your beauties!

    January 4, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    • Welcome back, RosHeanne! Yes, nothing like a horse to throw a curve ball. I just told Ironman we need more photos! He agreed. 🙂

      January 5, 2011 at 8:21 am

      • Ack, typo — sorry Rosanne!

        January 5, 2011 at 8:23 am

  10. Hey Tamara! Happy New Year to you, and all yours. I surmise you are planning on riding the Strawberry Fields ride at the Strawberry reserve in the Uintas this June? Exciting! I volunteered two years ago for that ride, and I swear it was the most beautiful and thrilling, the most freezing but fantastic ride I have ever had the occasion to see! Word of advice: it will be June, so you might think it will be warm, but you may want to bring an alpine sleeping bag to survive the frigid nights! During the day, layers layers layers! I think you will adore this ride, we saw several moose and elk and other traces of various wildlife, and the sunrises? If you enjoy watching the sunrise, I strongly recommend you take a few seconds out of your ride to stop Consolation (or Acey) and both of you watch the glorious unfolding of one of the most magnificent scenes I have ever had the privilege to view.

    The vet check for the 25 and 50 milers (if it is the same this year) is open and easy to get into. It is right across the little mountain stream, and a bit of an uphill walk right into camp, where the P&R people await. The vets were all very efficient and kind.

    I arrived too late to sit in on the welcome meeting, but I met the ride manager, a very kind man whose name I cannot remember right now… overall, the ride was stellar, and I cannot wait to see the pictures and hear your story!

    January 10, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    • Thanks, Carmen — The ride sounds lovely! Surely hope I can make it — and thanks for the heads-up on temperatures! 🙂

      January 10, 2011 at 4:44 pm

  11. Hi Tamara! Long time I haven’t been around, missed almost the entire year 2010 due to personal circumstances. Visiting your place with barbs and endurance is always a treat. Our place over in West Africa is much more laid back but endurance is what they love the most and last year, I took two of our girls for a 50 km ride. It was wonderful and I’d love to go further!
    Warm greetings from our little herd of West African barbs to yours,

    January 12, 2011 at 4:39 am

    • Welcome back, Esther! I was just thinking of you a few days ago, wondering how you were. Are you on Facebook?

      January 12, 2011 at 8:35 am

  12. Pingback: The Barb Wire

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