The Curated Life: Horses

The Curated Life: Horses

People ask me all the time: “Do you ride all the time? Like every day?”

I hate getting that question.

Because it forces me to face my answer: No.

I don’t. In fact, I recently admitted to going six months without riding at all. Six months!

It’s ridiculous. Terrible. An atrocity!

My girl, Chappy

I have this beautiful, wonderful thing at my fingertips and yet I don’t put it to use in my life.

There are a thousand excuses–I have them memorized. The limited daylight in winter. The wet or cold or hot or windy weather. The responsibilities of life. Work. Home. Relationships. Time.

Honestly, they are valid excuses. But they are excuses, not reasons.

And I don’t want to live excuses anymore.

As Husband and I attempt to pay down big student loans and simultaneously save enough for a down payment on a house, we have gone over every single expense with a fine tooth comb. Every. Single. Penny.

We’ve made big changes and little ones. We tweaked our car insurance to save $15 a month, and at one point even got rid of our internet service at home.

I cannot tell you how many times we have calculated the cost of keeping a horse, down to the penny. And it’s not cheap. Beyond the cost of feed and board and farrier and vet care there is the time. The daily grind of cleaning stalls, feeding, letting in, turning out. It all takes time.

But she’s my baby. My girl. Not just a part of my world, but a part of me. I would do anything to keep her. Letting her go just doesn’t feel like an option, because I think it would break my heart.

The value that she brings to my life isn’t tangible, it cannot be given a numerical value. It just is.

Horseback riding.

Then, earlier this year, I brought forth this idea about living a curated life. And recently, I realized that this part of my life, this horse-loving barn-cleaning part of my life, should not just be consumed, but curated.

Carefully designed, molded, shaped, collected and pieced together. Chappy should be too. The value she brings to my life should be forefront, not vaguely remembered from six months ago. The beauty and life that she offers should be capitalized on.

So I have decided: It’s time to curate.

My desire is to ride two or three times a week. It’s completely doable, I just have to commit. I’m thinking if I make space to ride Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at least two or three of those times should work out, with decent weather. And Sunday makes a good back up day. (Usually Sundays are set aside to spend with God and Husband, but Husband said he would love to come with me to the barn to watch me ride on Sunday afternoons.)

And just to make things clearer, I want to set some goals. Goals for me and for her. Goals that will motivate me to ride more and will benefit us for years to come.

Goals for me:
1. Ride 2-3 days/week
2. Ride Chappy in large pasture
3. Begin taking Chappy down trails near stable
4. Train Chappy to load/unload from our trailer
5. Increase comfort level at lope in large pasture
6. Add hitch to my truck and increase my trailering skills

Goals for Chappy:
1. Consistently keep head down
2. Maintain consistent, easy pace
3. Increase neck reining ability
4. Continue to work on side-passing
5. Begin flying lead changes in large pasture
6. Begin turn on haunches

By the end of the summer, I would love to start taking Chappy to Northwest River Park on weekends, to practice trailering, and work her in the round pen there, then take a few walks in the open area of the park. Perhaps by fall we will be ready to tackle a trail =).

So there you have it, my breakdown of goals to bring this part of my life from consuming to curating. Wish me luck!

Curating my life - riding

Happiness, comfort and healing

Happiness, comfort and healing

My horse, Chappy

It’s been some time since I’ve felt completely, totally, irrefutably happy.

Just over six months ago, we lost my brother-in-law far before his time, and it hurts. It still hurts. Our loss, our grief has overshadowed every moment since that awful day. We loved much, so we grieve much.

Here in Virginia, fall is the perfect time to ride. The weather is lovely, the mosquitoes not so bad, and fall lasts through December. But we lost Michael in October, and while I went through the motions, most of last fall is a blur of heartache. I didn’t ride. Not once.

I didn’t ride all winter. It was cold, dark, rainy.

I didn’t ride in March or April, it was an unusually cool Spring, and wet as usual. I clean stalls, I feed, I groom, I arrange vet and farrier care, but I didn’t ride.

Then, I did it. I dusted off my saddle, pulled out the bridle and actually rode. For the first time in six months.

Registered Name: Easy Feelin'

And it was great. Perfect. Beautiful.

I watched the sunset from horseback, and I loved on my baby girl.

Eventually I dismounted and put her away, gave her some grain and stored all that tack once more. But this time it won’t collect dust–it won’t stay hidden for long. Because this was life-giving. This small act of riding brought a real smile to my face, one I couldn’t deny if I tried.

I felt euphoric, alive, joyful…happy.

Pony nose

I know that riding horses isn’t the source of my joy. The Lord is the source of all joy. But He has given me a special heart for these majestic creatures of His, and through them, He comforts and heals my heart.

The happiness didn’t last forever, and the next day my muscles were pretty sore (I forget just how much muscle it really takes to ride well!). But I have been reminded just how therapeutic a ride can be, and I plan on partaking again pretty soon.

Happy trails!

Riding my horse