the love below

I so appreciate everyone’s support lately.  I feel super whiny right now, when things aren’t going perfectly with Murray.  It’s funny.  Over the winter when I was writing this blog and nothing Murrayish was happening, I was like “wtf! that would be such amazing blog fodder!” and then it turns out that when things just go a little bit Murray I am not entertaining.  I am not funny in the face of Pony’Tude.  I am no Poor Woman Showing, guys.

Below all of these feels and drama and sturm and drang and maudlin theatrics (on my part, Murray is pretty much as Theatrical as his pedigree demands [which is 1/8, just so you know]), there is love for this horse.  This silly, ridiculous horse who shows so much talent(ish) and has taught me so much.  So, to remind myself as much as to tell all of you, here are some of the reasons I love this horse that, somehow, I don’t trust right now.

Murray has given me strength

If you can't be kind, be quiet

I started riding Murray when he was still a baby noodle (in contrast to  his current behavior as a teenage mutant noodle turtle) and as with any baby noodle, a fair bit of determination is required to get certain things done.  With Murray, this ranged from everything from steering (“No! I will not turn in front of that terrifying jump! No! Just say NO!”) to accepting contact to jumping to anything.  All of this required me to keep a forward-thinking mind and win the battle of wills that Murray was totally willing to engage in, and if I could just be persistent without being mean, I would win.

Murray has given me subtlety

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As much as Murray requires a strong ride, he is also a really sensitive guy.  I barely have to think about a walk transition and we’re cruising along at a much slower pace than we were before.  A little leg pressure at the girth and there we are, cris-crossing our way across the arena.  He responds to voice commands as much as to any body position, and too much leg will always get a kick out of him.  Murray has taught me how to negotiate with him to get the best out of both of us, to get him to do what I want (in dressage or jumping!) and to do so without crazy objections.  In fact, that’s probably what we’re in the middle of right now; another lesson in how to be subtle and get what I want.  Murray’s legacy will not be akin to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.  Or maybe… do I need to read that thing?

Murray makes me feel special

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Lots of people have told me that Murray would not do well in a traditional training program.  Even if it’s just lip service, I appreciate the comment.  He’s too willful/silly/ridiculous/spastic/stupid/smart/doesn’t act like other horses/dinosaur/gumby/whatever.  I tend to agree with them: I don’t think he would do very well in the traditional training programs I’m familiar with.  He’s very much a one-person horse, and you have to be ready to move backwards and sideways as much as you do forward.  He definitely wouldn’t have made anybody any money in those off-the-track-to-prelim-in-18-months programs (hahaha he never would have made it), and I kindof thing he would have cracked under the pressure.

More than that, working with Murray, and being successful with Murray makes me feel like I could do anything.  Perhaps not brain surgery, but it certainly makes me feel like I could probably negotiate with most other little baby ottbs to get them to accept contact, jump the jumps, and do some circles in the sandbox.  By no means do I think of myself as a professional or a great trainer, but Murray has taught me a lot about the value of quiet persistence.  I appreciate that.

Murray keeps me entertained

magnesiumAs much as I sometimes wish that we were progressing faster, jumping bigger jumps, competing in higher divisions (hell, completing our division), and always keeping to that ever-so-realistic ideal of progress as a straight line, that is a) not real life and b) kindof boring.  Yes, I would learn a lot on a horse who was a bit more straightforward, and I he would be able to teach me things Murray (probably) never will.  But I enjoy the challenge of working with Murray, and I love working out the little Rubik’s cube of his mind.  It is without vanity that I say I think I would be bored working with a horse that is too straightforward — but perhaps it is also a little nearsighted?  I suspect that every horse is merely as easy as you let him be.

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Murray is really cute

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He is for real cute.  And his star looks like a tiny jumping horse with me jumping ahead.

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Bonus picture: HOW TINY AND ADORABLE WAS MILO WHEN I GOT HIM?!

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10 thoughts on “the love below

  1. Excellent exercise in remembering why you do this to yourself with this baby noodle. 🙂 You need to let yourself cry about saddle fit and noodle antics and be upset… and then pick yourself up and keep trucking! I’m here for you way on the other side of the country!

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  2. Sorry about the struggles.. but it will make the successes that much sweeter. And he is super cute.. he reminds me A LOT of my friend’s OTTB who also had his um, moments.

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  3. he certainly has plenty of character! you’ve poured a lot of love and hard work into him, and that’s apparent even if he’s not really showing it off right now. it’ll happen tho!!

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  4. My PA BM once told me as we were attempting to get Bobby near a jump–not even over it, just NEAR it–“This is not going to be the horse that gets you to the top, but he’s going to make you the rider than can get another horse there.” I think you’re in the same boat with Murray. Not that Murray isn’t fabulous when not throwing random tantrums, of course. It’s the sneaky fucking bastards that we somehow attach ourselves to because of the rare moments of very, very good that are the best teachers!

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    • I’ve had two coaches make the same statement about my mare…something along the lines of “if you can ride/train this one well, you’ll be able to handle anything”. At the time I found that statement more than a little depressing, but then I got a bit driven by the thought of the challenge. A couple of years on, it still lets me put the bad days into perspective a little easier! (Long story to basically tell you I’ve been there and it does get better again 🙂 )

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