“If you’re doing something wrong you will find resistance. If you’re doing something right you will find resistance. When you should be concerned is when you don’t find any resistance.”Kris Vallotton
Fort Valley 50 is a week away.
I am used to resistance. In fact just getting to this year was a struggle through resistance as I refused to accept that my 9 year old mare was never going to be fully sound and strong. Getting to the first ride in May was the culmination of swimming through resistance and a refusal to give up no matter how many months and miles we had to walk and crawl to rebuild and learn. I spent the entire training up to the ride and the entire ride wondering if the dreaded off steps would return to take us down once again. They did not. She finished strong.
As much as that day felt like a victory it was only the beginning. Apparently arrivals are only station changes to the next leg of the journey. Each major clinic (which I host up here through Hope Horsemanship) and each endurance ride had resistance. Some was extreme and violent (a bad wreck that left K bleeding profusely out of both knees on a back road that doesn’t see much traffic) and some threatening (a potential quarantine from a suspected strangles outbreak that turned out not to be), and some annoying (does the horse disappearing the morning you plan to depart for the ride fit here?).
Resistance is real. As real as good and evil. As real as light and darkness. As real as love and fear. There are personal forces that war behind the seen things. The struggle I face is determining the difference between resistance from dark forces who want to keep something beautiful (usually love or joy or kindness) from coming to fruition; or when the resistance is from the good creator who is trying to help me get back on track. Often to a simple human such as myself they have similarities.
We goal driven humans, if we had a playbook or roadmap, are inclined to go it alone: Don’t worry coach I got this. We are the ones who if God gave us the destination we are likely to beat him there missing important things along the way. So instead every time it’s reliance each step on where the guidance is going. This reminds me of the story of the nation of Israel finally coming into their promised land after a lifetime for most of them in the wilderness, God told them it was time to go in and begin to posses the land, after an amazing victory at Jericho Joshua (the leader God had chosen) sent some men to scout out the next conquest and they came back feeling pretty strong saying something like: Don’t worry about Ai, this should be easy, in fact don’t send everyone, it’s a small conquest and not well fortified, just send a small delegation and we’ll make quick work of it…
No where in this story does it imply that Joshua asked God what to do about this next event, so they sent a small piece of the army and lost a lot of lives and were sent packing. Joshua then tore his clothes and then turned to God to ask for direction. It’s when we assume we have the plan that we can get into trouble.
For me this applies so directly to my ride year. I have sensed that it’s a season of finally getting to fly forward together in strength, but only because I’ve finally learned to depend and ask for guidance each step, not like some kind of mean control, but like a good parent teaching me how to navigate through in the best way. When I run off on my own I tend to find myself in places I wasn’t intending to go.
I had a ton of resistance to the Big South Fork ride including a missing horse the day I was pulling out, but somehow it was made really clear to me that I was going to go to that ride and something really beautiful would come of it. When God’s involved it’s always bigger than the “ride” and so many really wonderful moments for Iva and me on that trip made it incredibly special. The Fort Valley ride has brought resistance in what feels like death by a thousand paper cuts, no bloody wrecks on back forest roads, no missing horse (yet!)… but it’s that season where the grasses begin to change and last year this timing I had to dry lot K who was becoming laminitic so I’ve had rides where she’s begun to feel the slightest bit off and I don’t want to take a horse that is the slightest bit off to a ride like Fort Valley.
This has meant I brought K to my own property temporarily where I can confine her and she is severely limited with grass to offset the sugars as the grasses make the switch from summer to winter. She’s not super excited about having only Hope as a buddy but she’s downright grumpy that I’ve not provided unlimited supply of the rich “cake” grass she loves the most this time of year. It’s just out of reach beyond the electric fence. I get grumpy when I’m put on a diet too…
Aside from these minor bumps, I’ve had a billet strap I use on a saddle fray off, I’ve lost my bridle (complete with bit and reins) by leaving it behind on a ride, I showed up to my shoeing appointment for this ride without my composite shoes that I ordered in advance to be sure I had the right ones (and my farrier happened to have everything except the shoes I’d need for the hind feet!). I drive over an hour to see him so there was no going back for them that day. In addition this month is a very dense time with all my violin teaching in full swing and it’s the most beautiful month so lots of extra wedding work leaving me feeling on the edge of together. Yesterday I went out to feed breakfast and Khaleesi’s eye was runny and the corner looked unusual- swollen possibly or irritated (a couple hours later it was all fine so I don’t think it’s a problem). It’s just been lots of little question marks that I now pause and ask: hey there, am I on the right track?
This ride is important to me. It will be our 3rd ride this year and possibly our last. It’s a ride the Mike is coming to help crew for me which makes it special. It’s also a ride that Amy and her gang will be at and I have agreed to sponsor riding with Madison the teenager she’s taken under her wing for the 50 ride. The truth is, I’m not unbiased. I want to go. So I have to check myself when I begin to hold too tightly and be sure I’m not heading off course.
I had an interesting dream a couple days ago as I was asking for guidance that made it pretty clear to me when I journaled it out one morning: this ride is a go. In the dream it was clear that God was guiding me in this season from my schedule. And there have been 3 rides this year I would have considered going to that I had prior obligations and had to pass on. The first two rides I’d hoped for canceled, so they were taken off the table. This month I have weddings on every weekend, often Saturday AND Sunday which is unusual but the weekend of Fort Valley I ONLY have a Sunday evening obligation that is also very simple, solo violin ceremony which doesn’t take a lot of prep work or coordinating. It will be easy to come back Sunday morning and have plenty of time to unpack and head over to play that evening. The time for the ride has been left open and the resistance won’t overtake the plans.
That usually means something beautiful is coming- and I’m looking forward to whatever it is! I’ve also come to learn that I’d love a strong finish and success in human terms, but sometimes the beautiful thing is relational or something I learn that will serve me exponentially going forward- so I’ll take whatever comes because it will be a gift and it will be GOOD.
One thing already that has come out of this was an inspiration that came from Iva when I was sharing my concerns with her and she heard a message of seeking Harmony as something vital to moving forward. There are so many beautiful points to that word but the biggest one that sunk in with me was that I have lost some of my inner harmony with the obligations of October and had begun to spin slightly off kilter internally which I know my horse doesn’t appreciate. We had a ride that was incredibly frustrating for me where I felt completely disconnected from her, and she was very distracted. And in that ride she began to feel that slightly off that worries me.
So I spent the last 2 rides instead of trying to get in some miles, back in the arena seeking Harmony together. Slowing down, seeking that balance and strength we had found together this summer. In the end it’s never been the big miles that have meant her success in long rides, it’s been the strength and balance we’ve built and the connection that came with it. So back to the arena for some beautiful moments of learning and connecting and rebalancing.
My goal is not to ever allow our riding to disconnect to the point we find disharmony again. I am sure I will fail, but it’s a good goal to have!
As always… I’ll keep you posted!