Runners Run and Writers Write

Get out of your box stallThrough the (short) history of this blog, some crazy things have happened…an episode of plagiarism, (maybe more than one), a neutral post about western pleasure that turned into an (unpleasant) viral post about dressage, and several other things I didn’t really see coming.  Of course, there have also been some really positive reactions, too.  People have said thank you, and have suggested topics, and have made me feel like the thing is worthwhile.  Which has been awesome.
I did find, however, that I’ve gotten slower and slower to write.  Sometimes it’s because I get busy, like everyone else, but mostly I think it’s because I’ve gotten too concerned about people’s reactions, one way or the other.  It’s a little like showing horses sometimes; it can become less about horses and more and comparison and who has the blingiest, most expensive whatsit, and the next thing you know (or 20 years later) it may not be all that fun.  You might have to work at finding the fun sometimes.  But people have to find that out on their own, and I sure don’t want to discourage others from taking that journey.
I initially started writing this blog because I like to write.  Sometimes I’m not even sure how I feel about a particular topic until I think it through and write about it…which is part of what gets me in trouble on Facebook, I guess.  Although I can get in trouble on Facebook for absolutely no reason at all.  Different story.  And honestly, sometimes when I write about something, I totally change my mind from what I thought it was I thought at the start.  Quite a few posts have never seen the light of day for that very reason.  Anyway, in addition I really want to try to help people consider and reconsider, and look at things from different perspectives. So, I’m getting back to it.
When I was younger, I thought that I might become a writer…and that never really left me.  With the development of technology, and blogging, it became easier to develop things that people might actually read…which isn’t a requirement of writing, but sometimes its part of the fun, just as sometimes competition is part of the fun in showing horses.  In order to really be a writer, you have to write…probably every day, by the looks of things.  I mean, Steven King writes every day, and he appears to be doing ok.
It’s true about everything, really.  In order to be a horseman, you have to work with horses on some level.  In order to be a runner, you have to run.  (Thankfully, you don’t have to run very fast…you just have to run.  Take it from me.). In fact, in  a few days I’m scheduled to run the Disney Half-Marathon, and my goal is to to finish before the finish line is taken down.  That still makes me a runner.  (Late Update…the race was canceled.  Great fodder for my next post, if nothing else.)
You have to put yourself out there without concern for others’ reactions, whether they be good OR bad.  So I’m getting out of my own box stall again…and writing.  And heck, maybe I’ll try Zumba again.

Get Out of Your Box Stall

IMG_1757

A week or so ago, I rode my horse bareback, in a cornfield, for the first time in well over 20 years. I suppose I should clarify…it was the first time I’d ridden bareback in over 20 years. I’m not sure I’ve ever ridden in a cornfield.

For some of you, this is not a big deal at all, and you’re probably wondering WHY it was a big deal to me. For others, you’re wondering why I even considered doing it. To be honest, I wondered that too, so I got to sorting out why something I did all the time as a kid, has suddenly become SUCH a big deal to me. At first I thought it was the fact that I managed to haul my “not so young” self onto the back of a horse who hadn’t been ridden in 2 months give or take, and who can buck like nobody’s business on the end of a lunge line. But it wasn’t really that so much. I knew that she had been ridden bareback by her previous owner, and I also knew that she doesn’t typically buck like that with a rider. I also wore a helmet. There was a bit of physical risk, but nope. That wasn’t it.

Once I started through the turn out lots toward the field, I could sense that she was also pretty excited about venturing out of the arena. Her head was up and her ears forward, and I did nothing to change it. (THAT was new). She was marching forward like she had business to take care of, and I did nothing to change that either. Once we got into the field, we started down the edge, where there are lots of trees and lots of deer, who evidently found us a bit nerve wracking. I felt Virginia (the mare) jump, but she didn’t spook much. I laughed and we kept going. (UNHEARD OF.) No one was watching, or evaluating our performance except deer…so what did it matter that she spooked? It didn’t.

You’re probably starting to understand what I eventually came to realize. For the past 30 plus years, I’ve been showing horses…typically western horses. With showing, comes competition and evaluation, which I also enjoy quite a bit. What I think I eventually forgot to enjoy though, was the horses themselves, and how amazing it is that we are athletic enough to ride them and they are kind enough to let us do all sorts of ridiculous things they wouldn’t do on their own. That is part of what makes judging so enjoyable…you get to watch people and horses do amazing things, from getting around the arena in one piece, to knocking out a flawless pattern.

This little “spin” through the cornfield reminded me of why I love horses in the first place. But there was a little more to it. I think that sometimes when we show horses (or compete in anything) seriously, and for a long time, the competition actually becomes the focus, rather than the experience of it. I know I went through a phase where I could scarcely imagine doing anything with a horse other than compete. (Probably not my finest hour, but it’s true. And kind of sad, frankly.) This experience also got me thinking about other things I’ve neglected to try for fear of not doing them well…things like cooking, for example. Yikes. Cupcake Wars would be the one of the scariest things I can imagine, to be honest. (And how did we get to the point where even cupcakes have to be a contest?!)

If you look at the header for this blog, you see the quote “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” When I started Out of the Boxstall, I wanted to share thoughts and ideas about the horse industry, judging, and horse shows, and I’ll definitely keep doing that. When your life revolves around those topics, it’s kind of hard not to. But I really wanted to encourage people (myself included) to do some “out of the box stall” thinking in other ways as well. One of my New Year’s Intentions (Not resolutions. Those are the kiss of death) is to write more regular blog posts…if you like them, great, but if you don’t, that’s fine too. That’s probably one of the most important things I learned from riding bareback in a cornfield…sometimes the experience of doing it is much more important than the ribbons, points, numbers of “Likes” or any other external reward. I really think 2015 is going to be a great year…and I hope it is for you, too.

What will you do this year that gets you “out of YOUR box stall?”

Get out of your box stall