This past weekend we competed at the Willow Draw Horse Trial in Weatherford, Texas. It is a fabulous venue that is home to my future dressage arena. (Hear that universe??) The property is stunning and everyone was excited to be at the show. I had recently been up-graded from my leg immobilizer and crutches combination to a fancy hinged knee brace.
My bionic leg and I were all set to tackle a HT with all the course walks and all the schooling and, and... yes, I got a little ahead of myself scheduling. Shocking, isn't it? As my riders got ready to head to their course walks, I am so appreciative for the other trainers that stepped in and offered to take my riders around! It takes a village and even though sometimes it can be hard to ask for help, it is almost always available when you finally give in and ask.
This past weekend I did what I could. I would coach, ice, eat, and repeat. I pushed myself a little more than I probably should, but not nearly as much as I would have in the past. Interestingly, icing was a bit like coming back to my breath. For example, when you are meditating and your brain starts squirreling out and your mind starts telling you how you can't do this and you forgot to do that, you come back to your breath to reground, right? Well, when I physically starting spinning out, got too tired, started limping a bit more, etc... coming back to ice my knee at the barn gave me time to re-ground.
The other interesting by product of coming back to the barn to ice was that I sat still- in one location- for an extended period of time. That is pretty unusual at a horse show. I, like most trainers, tend to hit the ground running at shows. There is just a lot to do. Well, "forced" into being in one place did a few things. One, it allowed me time to stay organized and focused. Two, it allowed for actual conversations with a few coaches/riders that I hadn't spoken with for an extended period of time previously.
This made a tremendous impression on me. Many of us came to Eventing because of the sport and stayed because of the community. Somewhere along the way, many of us (coaches and riders alike) got busy with our goals and focused on what we are trying to do and stopped asking others what their goals are. This past weekend, I got to have deeper conversations with a few folks I had always been cordial with, and enjoyed seeing, but had never reaaaaally gotten deeper than, "You guys looked amazing. Super ride. Oh, I can relate to that. How are you doing?"
Sitting in a barn aisle icing your knee is a perfect time to do that. I had two conversations with people that made me want to say, "Amazing! I had no idea. I want to know your story, if you will share it with me." Does that make sense? Have you ever felt that?
I believe, if we take the time to share our stories, others will share theirs. Get raw. Get vulnerable. Show your soul. Take a breath and look around. As a professional or an amateur in this industry, we are surrounded by a community that truly wants to connect with each other. We would not ride horses otherwise. We want that connection. We want a community that supports us, whether we are looney or grounded.
Many of us say, "It takes a village." Not many of us take the time to get to know those that are in our village. Next time you are at a show and you run into someone you just have a warm fuzzy about, but have never gotten to know, ask them a different question. Try it. Ask to know their story. You might find it was story you needed to hear.