Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Taking a "Chance"...

Blarney Stone Equestrian Center

Do you ever have a moment in your life where you just need something?  You don't know what it is.  You can't quite put your finger on it, but it's something.  And, it's there.  Always there.  Even when you have everything you could ever wish for.  I had finally come to a point in my life where I knew who I was, I knew what I wanted, and I was happy.  My wonderful husband and I had three amazing kiddos, our lives were filled with so much love and laughter.  Life was great.  But, still there was something calling me.

Was it a quarter-life crisis, a bored housewife thing, or was it just that I knew there was something else in me?  Maybe it was a little bitta' all of it.  I don't know.  All I know is I finally found what that something was and I've never been so grateful.  For me this something turned out to be horseback riding.  I think at some point or another every little girl dreams of pink ponies and riding on a rainbow.  We look at horses and imagine that we are a princess.  It is a very enchanting thing those horse dreams.

I remember having them as a little one.  I used to beg my mom for a horse.  I think she, like so many other parents, just thought it was a phase.  Well, if it was a phase I've never grown out of it.  And, I finally got to the point in my life where I had the time and the means, and finally the guts to try it out.  And, I had my husband cheering me on encouraging me to go for it!    

Every person needs a place where they can be themselves.  A place that brings out the best in you and makes you work out the worst in you, a place where you can vent.  For some it may be a gym, a yoga studio, or a pottery class.  For me this place is the Blarney Stone Equestrian Center.  I had been referred to Blarney Stone by a college friend of mine who was also a wife and mother.  She was such an inspiration to me.  I wasn't aware at the time that so many life lessons were about to come to me in the form of a horse.  The horse that was about to start teachin' those lessons was a horse named Chance.  A fitting name really.  Because, Lord knows this horse has taken a big chance on me.  

His name is Chance, but to me he is known as Sir Chancelot.  I met this horse July 2011.    I'll never forget the first time I met him.  It was a hot west texas summer day, my heart was racing, and I was scared to death.  There I was, 33, a mother of 3, and wife to the most amazing man I've ever met.  There I was, being introduced to this beast that I was to brush, hoof pick, saddle, climb on, and then tell him what to do.  I was so impressed by my instructor's faith in me.  Her name is Kathleen O'Shea.  Kathleen is the kind of woman you can trust but you don't ever cross her.  She is an amazing horsewoman, but also a pretty incredible human being.  Her patience and encouragement has meant so much to me.

After I finished brushing Chance I saddled him up and got on. As I got on him I remember thinking "What the hell am I doing?  What is wrong with me?  I have children and a husband who count on me, and here I am doin' my damndest to get myself hurt. Or worse!  I really need to get some help."  But, I also knew at that moment it was a turning point in my life.  I had finally done something I had always wanted to do.  And, I was never more scared or more excited to learn something new.  Even if it turned out I was terrible at it, I could say that I'd given it a try and I'd given it my all. 

I must have looked like one of those test drive dummies the first time I rode that horse.  I said to Kathleen "I may have looked like an idiot, but that sure felt good!"  Maybe it was a bit of a surprise to both of us when I showed up the following week for my next lesson.  Then it turned into two lessons a week.  And now, if it were up to me I'd go every day.  

I am so grateful for this "Chance" I took.  I'm so grateful that I finally had the guts to do it, and I'm so grateful that there was this wonderful place for me to go and be myself and fulfill a lifelong dream.  I've learned so much about the horse world.  But, I've learned even more about myself.  I've learned that I have to give myself a break- I can't always be perfect, I cannot control every situation, I've learned that I'm tougher than I thought I was, learned to really stand up for myself and what I believe in, that it's NEVER too late to try something new, and most of all I think I've learned to learn from my mistakes.  Lessons I will never forget.

Take a chance.  At least you wont ever have to wonder "what if?"  I took that chance, and I'm a better person for it.  I'll never be the same and I'm so grateful for that.  And, as it turns out, I'm actually a pretty damn good cowgirl. 

Sir Chancelot and me.
Chancelot and Miss Lily



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