For the next few weeks we’ll be partnering with ST Mastery students to tell the STories of their horses. This is a great group of ST practioners who made a difference for their horse and added value to the lives of their horse. And we are very thankful that they’ve volunteered to share their STories to give us hope and inspiration!
Here's the first story, the story of the horse Ripple and ST Mastery student Zaria Gaydon:
"Enough now. I’m sitting on the sofa with a mug of steaming tea and a discarded note pad beside me. On the TV there is a girl putting a bareback on a spotted mare. The mare stands quietly, her head slightly raised accepting the bareback being placed and the girth being done up. The mare is Ripple, my Princess Ripple, and the girl is me. For some saddling a horse is a task, no more than just an occurrence, something that is done before the real work begins. For me it is marvellous.
The next frame shows the girl sitting on the horse in a bareback pad and caversson, standing by a mounting block. Ripple is watching a young girl empty her wheelbarrow outside, and the girl on the horse watches too, quietly picking up Ripple’s mane and letting it slide through her fingers and fall back onto her neck. The girl on the TV is watching, but is deep in thought… and I know what she is thinking.
I’ve raced through the door, made a cup of tea and sat on the sofa to make notes eager not to forget, to remember so I can learn, to learn and get better. I’m still wearing the breeches and tee-shirt I rode in this morning, and there is a gentle smell of Ripple that stimulates the senses and transports me back.
This is our story, our journey and a closing of a chapter. Today is the day I thought might never come, always working towards it, always clinging to the hope that I could get good enough to achieve a goal that was so clear in my mind, through days of smiles at breakthroughs, and for those who already know of Ripple’s story less tears than you may think… because some days I was too tired even to cry.
The girl on TV is remembering her first ride on Ripple two years ago, the pungent heavy smell of sweat that rose from the panting horse, the smell seemed to hang in the warm air and under my legs I could feel Ripple’s ribs swell and fall even under the western saddle, my legs lifting and falling whilst we stood. My first ride on Ripple.
On TV the girl suddenly smiles as if waking up. The girl outside moves away with her wheelbarrow, unaware that she was being watched, and Ripple and I move away from the mounting block. I can feel the easy swing of her barrel and am conscious of the responsibility I have in my hands, yesterday was my first ride in cavesson and Elaine had come over to teach me.
Elaine Coxon ST Instructor, one of those people that came into my life without song or dance, but is, well frankly, a life saver. We’ve know each other for years, previously through Parelli and mutual friends. As a friend and my instructor she knew Ripple before she was started and the angry dominant horse that returned. Elaine’s support, patience, knowledge, insistence, perseverance and confidence in Ripple and me is unlimited. Taking Ripple in when I was drowning, so overwhelmed and so out of my depth..not making promises, but helping us both. Whilst all the time helping other people and their horses, studying and passing on that knowledge with a calmness and passion for Straightness Training. How she does it and still finds time to do her horses I have no idea, but I am beyond thankful that she does.
The man behind the video is Phil, my partner. Barely acknowledged, I know he has arranged his already too busy diary around my school booking, to video me. I’m not the only one is eagerly looking forward to the arrival of the long awaited Soloshot 3! At the end he’ll collapse the tripod, brush my cheek with a kiss and fly back to his laptop, accepting that I’m only vaguely aware of his leaving as I’m still wrapped up in Ripple. Transporting me to and from workshops, to give my dodgy knee a break, listening to my endless talk about Ripple, the smiles, the laughter, the frustration, endless bottles of wine and chocolate, he’s bought me external hard drives to store my overload of videos, been beside me watching TV whilst I’ve sat beside him with earphones on listening and watching Marijke de Jong's videos. On the table beside me is a book with a black leather cover and the words “Thoughts and Dreams” emblazoned in gold. Knowing my unsuccessful attempts at maintaining diaries or journals, Phil bought this for me last Christmas. A scrapbook I could collect photos, and make notes, and log achievements. Looking at it now, it’s pages are crammed, but I guiltily reflect that the last entry was in May… so much has happened I have not had time to fill its hungry pages with my reflections! The first page of the book opens to read two quotes that I pasted in back in January, using the big glue stick that Phil bought, and they read “She thought she could, so she did.” and “I’ve already decided 2016 is going to be ridiculously amazing.”
The girl on TV has stopped and is looking puzzled! There has been a little disagreement, maybe she was holding the rein a little tight, or a little too long… as she looks down she sees the cavesson has slipped. Sliding quietly off, she adjusts it, tightening it a hole and then walks back with her horse to the mounting block… and they start again. In her ears she hears Elaine’s voice, lengthen the inside rein, sit to the inside, let her stretch into the outside rein. I recognise Ripple’s impatience at my fumbling fingers and lack of timing and feel, but she settles with a sigh and tries to figure out what it is I’m trying to ask. Smiling I hear Elaine in my head patiently urging me to keeping going, it’s coming… half a step of LFS!
The last sequence on the video I’m sitting on Ripple before quietly sliding off. I rode probably less than half a dozen times after her start 2 years ago, and I’ve ridden her 13 times since she returned from Elaine’s a month ago. Small circles, then figures of eights and straight lines and serpentines, quietly building our confidence and trust in the dream that was becoming reality. A dream of a peaceful saddling and gentle rides. We celebrated our 10th ride by it being the first ride in the bareback pad and the 12th by riding in the pad and cavesson. The pad is warm as I slide it from her back, but there is no sweat, her breathing is quiet and I can feel her breath on my face as she turns her head towards me.
It’s here the day I dared to dream of, today we let go, a new start. Our path has led us to the foot of the mountain and there will be times ahead of new challenges and achievements in our Straightness Training journey. Time to let go of the past, and leave the baggage at the bottom of the mountain. Time to move on…"