Thursday, November 06, 2008

Just call me Rocky?

I can't say I am a huge fan of the Rocky movies, but I do know that the time between "Rocky V" and Rocky VI" was sixteen years -- 1990 to 2006. A reaaally older Rocky made a comeback in that 2006 movie. And now I have too.

While the rest of the world was out trick-or-treating or obsessing about the election, I was riding in a horse show: an out-of-town, three-day horse show. Clipper (show name "McDreamy") isn't my horse, but he's a very nice horse, although at times he mistook the show ring for the Fair Grounds race track and we had to have a little discussion about that. Amazingly, on the videos we look very collected and confident, very much on the same page. And every now and then, we actually were.

The upshot of it: we were in four classes over those three days and took ribbons in all of them. And even a little prize money! (Trust me...a very little.)

When I got home, I pulled out my old horse show ribbons from the days that Cinder and I were showing -- and by the way, we always showed at our home barn and never went on the road to a show. (This out-of-town show was a really big deal for me.) With a shock, I discovered that our last show was April 14, 1991. That's seventeen years. Yo, Rocky!

When Cinder died in May 2007, I never thought I'd be showing again, much less just a year and a half later. I had actually stopped riding for six years when his legs and feet got to the point that he was no longer sound to ride. It was hard to go on without my beloved partner of twenty years, but I'm glad I did. It's good to be back in the world of horses and barns and horse shows again.

By the grace of God, I hooked up with an excellent trainer. Couldn't have done it without her. We've been drilling, drilling, drilling in our lessons. She would take away my reins, so I wouldn't balance myself on them. She would take away my stirrups, so I would strengthen my legs and get them in the right place. Two-point. Trot. Canter. Transition. Walk, now! I think I'm as good a rider today as I was way back yonder with all that training -- but my days of flying over fences are over. I'm passionate about riding, but I'm not crazy.

Alas, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get into my tall field boots. Seventeen years and a lot of good South Louisiana cooking have taken their toll. As far as I can tell, no one in this part of the world sells English riding boots, and getting a pair that fits the foot and calf is far too tricky to go the mail order route. So I rode in my short paddock boots, a big no-no that probably cost me some points with the judge, but so it goes. Next trip to Atlanta, I go boot shopping.

When I started riding again as an adult, many years ago, I was an anomaly. Often I had to show against little kids. (Trust me, a judge will never give a blue ribbon to an adult over a child in a horse show. As it should be.) Now there are lots of adult riders and lots of classes for adults at the shows. And, dare I say it, some of those adult riders are even older than me!

It's not as easy as it was when I was a kid. One of my favorite phrases is "Advil. It's not just for breakfast anymore." But I'm having just as much fun now as I was when I first hopped on a school horse at age eight.

Find your passion. Follow it. And remember Rocky!