Simple Moments

This past Friday, it was a balmy 50 degrees and a slow day around the farm, which inspired me to get out of the arena. After asking Paul and Andrea if they wanted to join me on a trail ride (which they quickly declined…next time…) Kelso and I saddled up to stretch our legs. The moment my feet hit the stirrups and I realized the property were our stomping grounds, I instantly felt relieved and at home. Our souls felt good after a day out of four walls; after all, we spent the majority of our beginnings running around fields bareback. It’s good to go back to our roots every once in a while, which got me thinking a bit about the beginnings and how they will, inevitably, evolve as our riding career or hobby does.


Kelso dreaming about the day we can start practicing outside!

I remember being a horse-crazy little girl who would be magnetically drawn to any horse-owning adult. I would stare and wonder how I was so lucky to be in their midst, and then wonder how they were so lucky to own a horse. A real horse. There would be a mix of bombarding them with questions and being too shy to ask any. But how many breaths did your horse take that day? It was unfathomable to me that they didn’t seem to know that answer. How do you ever stop staring at it? How do you ever leave it? These were questions an 8 year old pining for a horse needed to know the answers to.

When I was 13, I called my father while at a horse auction. I asked if I could buy a horse because they were selling yearlings for $65 each.What could go wrong? I was shocked when he said yes. My response was a quick confirmation that we would indeed have to pay board and vet bills and everything else. Kids, take notes on how to have your parents agree to buying you a horse; call them frantically and ask so quickly they don’t have time to think about their answer. After years of begging  and riding anything with a mane and four legs, I got the green light to search for my very own horse.

The stars aligned and Kelso was, I am convinced, given to me by the best horse gods there are. (Too many details on the beginnings of the WP and I will start sobbing and I am in public.) The love story of a thirteen year old girl and her Wonder Pony began. This love story has consisted of so many hours at the barn, nights spent in the straw during clinics, days spent in the sun reading novels, and a journey that has spanned thousands of miles.

The little girl who had hoped for so long to get her own pony had lots of love stored up to give to Kelso, and he graciously accepted it. During high school, on nights that were too cold or days that were too long, our solace would be to sit in each other’s company and just be. There would be many nights where I would think “I could probably do something productive with him right now.” I had no idea how productive those nights really were.

It was in those moments where the simple act of being together was enough to make the world go around. These moments have added up to a relationship I only dreamed about having. These moments were never plagued with the concerns about when flying changes were going to come, when we would get to that next medal, that next show, or whatever else might be your personal “next.”

At what point do we lose this innocence? At what point do we stop yelling out the car window “Pony!” as we drive past a field with horses. {I, Erin Paul, am 21 years old and often still scare passengers with that exclamation.} When does going to the barn become a chore, one that is added to the day after work, before dinner, and other adult list items?

There is a shift where the love we have for the horses that give us wings can become less evident. While it is obviously still there, they have become our normal. This is, of course, not the only thing in our lives that this happens to, but it is something I have started to take note of. When do we mount and dismount out of habit? When do we no longer feel like we are superheroes when we put our feet in the [pink] stirrup irons?

I challenge you to take a moment and remember that horse crazy kid you used to be. I want you to be so incredibly infatuated with your horse the next time you go to see them. Give them a huge hug around the neck, as if you were a 4’/ 90 lb pony clubber hugging your 16 HH draft-mutt. Give them way too many cookies just because you can. If you live with your horses, run out to the barn in your pajamas to say hello because they live in your backyard! If you board, take the whole drive to look forward to seeing your horse for the first time that day and take extra long to get them ready. Sit with them in their stalls or pastures to remember the feeling that can sometimes get lost in the medals, goals or movements. Go on a ride outside of your four walls to remember the days when the movements didn’t matter, but only the act of riding did. Take a minute to embrace the journey and the wonder of it all. The feeling that it is simply enough to be best friends. That we are, at the end of the day, inexplicably lucky to have these magnificent animals in our lives.

Remember the little girl or boy whose biggest dream was to have a horse of their very own. Now you have it, and I challenge you to embrace it.

Off to go hang out with my dream,

Erin and the WP

PS: A horse takes 10-24 breaths per minute. Using an average of 15 breaths, Kelso takes about 21,600 breaths a day.

This post is dedicated in loving memory to two equine partners I was honored to know and I am thankful my paths crossed that of their human partners. To Harmony and Lady-you are missed and so loved. Run your hearts out up in those endless green pastures! 

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