As the Macy chapter comes to an end, I’ve been thinking back to all I have learned from her and all I have to be thankful for. Macy has taught me a lot. And I am well aware that this isn’t the first time I have said that. But she has taught me things beyond how to do a shoulder in correctly, or flying lead change, or any of the other upper level horse tricks she’s got. She taught me some other things that will be far more important for my riding career moving forward. And because of that, I’d like to thank Macy for teaching me the following.
- Even the most honest horse needs you to bring your 50% to the partnership.
Macy is truly one of the most honest horses I have ever ridden to a jump. She is not a stopper. She doesn’t run out. I think she really enjoys jumping and flicking her tail high in the air no matter the size of the jump.
Bu that doesn’t mean I never had a stop on her. There are two stops I can remember, and in both of them I was riding her backwards. In the first instance I was inadvertently shortening her and shortening her to the cross country obstacle, until she was finally like ” are you asking me to stop?” And so she did. She honestly couldn’t understand why I was pulling back on the way to a jump. So I got reamed by Sarah and next time I kept my leg on, kept my elbows moving, and we had a lovely ride.
The jump we stopped at the first time. Clearly the second time around Macy approved of my riding
In the second instance, we were schooling a course that involved a drop into water. I was tired, and distracted, and not riding like someone who was going Training in a month. I was just letting Macy take me around the course and asking nothing of her. We came to the drop into water and about 3 strides out I felt her pause, but I thought “she doesn’t stop” and did absolutely nothing. And she stopped. And I, once again, got reamed, and came around again and had a lovely approach where my leg was on, I actually rode, and lo and behold we had no issues. I actually appreciated that stop from Macy as I rode much better the rest of the day and it was our last cross country school together. We schooled some prelim lines and I got to feel what was needed to be an appropriately aggressive rider.
So, thanks Macy, for reminding me that no matter what horse I’m riding I need to actually ride. It’s not fair to not show up and let our horses cover our ass just because they can.
2. A 2* Horse Isn’t a Programmed Robot
So…. I’ll admit something. I maybe used to think that people who bought upper level horses didn’t have to do anything to get them to continue to be upper level horses. Like, I thought that you bought an upper level horse because they are essentially robots that require no work to win dressage or jump courses with no faults. Maybe this is the case for some horses, but it certainly wasn’t the case with Macy. Sarah did a great job bringing Macy along. She didn’t cut corners and despite a conformation and tenseness that didn’t lend itself to making dressage easy, Sarah did a really great job with this mare and was competitive through 2*. So, I figured I would hop on her and we’d magically be doing half passes and lengthenings and it would be EASY.
It’d be no time until I, too, would be wearing a shadbelly and having beautiful dressage tests.
Um, even when Macy was her best self, none of it was easy. I had to work for all of it. Macy doesn’t magically sit on her ass and work in an uphill frame. She doesn’t magically use her back and become loose and swingy. You have to work for all of that. And while she can see a distance better than I can, she still needed to be told not to rush to that distance. She had to be reminded that sometimes my way was better and she needed to listen. My point is, you still need to work your ass off, even with a “broke” horse. It’s just a different kind of work.
Thanks for changing my perspective, Macy.
3. You Learn the Most From the Ones That Challenge You.
In the beginning, I will fully admit that Macy was not good for me. I was losing confidence, not learning anything, and basically dreaded having to ride her. But when I took a step back, and realized I should only be riding her in lessons, things started to click. Maybe it was the consistency, maybe it was the Quiessence, or maybe I was just becoming a stronger, more competent rider, but it didn’t take very long for me to make it work with Macy. I even went so far as to take her off property by myself on hacks. (Honestly, I still can’t believe I asked to do this and can only imagine how relieved Sarah was when I texted her all went well and we were headed home).
This may actually be Georgie, but still a pretty picture so is getting included.
Macy kept pushing me. She kept challenging me. And 90% of the time, I accepted the challenge. Now, when she attempts to bolt, I laugh. I shut her down within a stride and get her back to work. It doesn’t scare me. In fact, it happens so infrequently that when it does, I see it mainly as an inconvenience or annoyance.
Thanks Macy for challenging me and helping me become a better rider.
4. Ride What’s Underneath You
If I got on Macy all nervous and anxious, our rides didn’t go well. But over time, I realized that if I didn’t get on her with the expectation she was going to be squirrely, if I just got on her and got to work and felt what was happening, rather than expect anything, our rides were so much better. It was hard with Macy because I never knew what horse I would have that day. But this attitude of, lets see how you feel, rather than, this is going to be a fight, made our rides so much better. I remember riding her one day and thinking how loose and relaxed she felt and realized that it was possible for her to be like that, so I should ride what I feel and perhaps I’ll ride a loose and relaxed horse.
On this day I felt a horse who didn’t think I was as funny as I thought I was…
This will be so so important with bringing up green baby horse and I honestly can’t thank Macy enough for helping me with this.
5. Having a Trainer who is also your best friend has it’s perks
So, if I’m going to thank Macy in this post, it’s only right for me to thank Sarah as well. I have no idea why she had the confidence in me that I could ride Macy, but she did. When I was grieving over the loss of my heart horse, she offered me hers. And I honestly cannot thank her enough for that. Somewhat miraculously, me riding her heart horse, who isn’t an easy ride, has made us closer friends. Were there times we both had tears in our eyes because Macy was being so difficult for me and we were worried it would affect our friendship? Sure. But we managed to have open and honest conversations and Sarah never lost faith in us as a team. She understood my struggles and supported any and all decisions I wanted to make. I think she liked watching her old girl safely carry her friend over jumps, and watch her friend learn new things on a horse that she had trained since a baby. In the end, it worked out quite well for both Macy and I, I believe.
So thanks Sarah. For letting me ride your heart horse and everything that came along with it.
Here’s to more mimosas and fun together!