It’s truly amazing what a long hack, with a prayerful attitude and John 15 in the back of your head, at sunrise, can do for the soul.
Arwen and I headed out at about 6:30 this morning, before the sun had dared to show its face.
As we started down the hill, it was just slipping into the sky from behind the hill and the brooding woods.
The world became rose-tinted; its edges softened, illuminated by golden light. It was beautiful, it was breathtaking, it was pure, and it was deeply humbling.
The challenges of running a not-so-little-anymore stableyard can mount dauntingly at the beginning of each day, leaving me as thunderstruck as the traveller in Psalm 121. Stressed. Burned out. Hopeless. Exhausted. Complaining. Selfish.
But like the traveller, today I’m reminded of where my help comes from.
On a scale of one to God, none of today’s challenges are anything more than a speck in the face of majesty.
I’m reminded of how vastly, limitlessly, with how much abandon and abundance I have been blessed. Wouldn’t it have been enough if Christ had just died and lived again for me? It is enough. Why then am I so spoiled? Why sunrises and rustling fields of ripening maize and shadow-silent little duiker buck slipping across the paths and the sweeping expanse of Highveld magnificence and a good, grey mare who never quits? Why do I, who deserves only death, not only gain life and redemption and peace, but also beauty and grace and friendship?
There can only be one answer to such an impossible question: an answer utterly complicated in its very perfect simplicity.
We’ve been clipping up a storm – of horsehair, flying about everywhere. (And I do mean everywhere – fellow clipping people will sympathise).
So far, Lulu, Zorro and Jamaica have stood dead still to clip. The clippers broke halfway through Jamaica so we had a whole rigmarole with that and his coat looks a bit disastrous now – but nothing that a week’s growth won’t fix. On the upside, by the end of it, he was grazing as I snipped away.
I’m hoping to maybe drive around and shave ponies for people and thus acquire some more funds, if the clippers continue to behave.
I jumped 90cm on Jamaica. The nerves have been a little up and down, but the overall tendency has been really quite good. Jamaica bails me out a lot. I entered him in the 80cm at SANESA next weekend because that’s what we seem to be coping at even on my bad days.
Magic lost his snot.
Magic found his snot.
Eagle went to the dressage arena and behaved brilliantly. He has the most incredible brain – that rare combination of quiet and willing, but intelligent and sensitive. I wish I could keep them all sometimes.
I can now ride horses that are taller than I am without even a twinge of worry (if they’re quiet). This is Buzz. Buzz is amazing.
Our views stay amazing.
We took lessons with dressage coach S: K and Renè, and me with my two beasties. It was invaluable. I nearly died. S really, really liked Thunny and got me properly excited about his future.
Eagle’s owner rode him for the first time. He was superb, but it got cut short when one of the stirrup leathers snapped mid-canter. I can’t believe it – it wasn’t even worn. Eagle’s mom took a tumble and left rather battered. Really unfortunate because it was going so well. God knows what He’s doing with this.
Exavior is gorgeous. I have to sell him. The family and I (and God and I) had a talk about that first, and we agreed that with things a little tight sometimes (as is normal, for any growing little yard), the funds that are going to his upkeep and training could be better used elsewhere. There are so many kids out there dying to ride but without the financial oomph to do it and that’s what we’re here for, not this. It’s not like I can ride him anyway, and he has too much future ahead of him to waste on a maybe.
It’s very sad. But it’s God’s plan, not mine, and this miracle horse has a lot more miracles in store for him. Just with somebody else.
Kissing this nose makes everything better, though.
So does catching two top-class Nooitie mares in one picture. They’re more alike than they’ll ever admit.
Join-up? Nope. Apples.
Trooper is doing super. We’ve got canter now, and on the correct lead, and circles (kinda). He’s got a bit of a nappy streak but it’s nothing my pink wand isn’t dealing with.
We took our big group of kiddies for a hack. Regrettably I didn’t get a picture of the cutest feature: a three-year-old bundle of cuteness seated upon Midas. Now that was adorable.
Arwie and I took a walk on the wild side – AKA the public road. Then we went inside and did four million shoulder-ins; coach S showed us how to do them properly and we’re not going to let them get us down again.
She doesn’t have Magic’s scope or Nell’s trot or Thunder’s presence, but she’s got the fire in the belly that lights mine when it flickers and she never lets me down. Ever.
I had the saddles fitted – the dressage to Arwen, the JC jumping to Jamaica, and the beloved K&M to Thunder. The perk is that the dressage is now super wide and fits everything, including Lancey, who has been doing his best flatwork yet. The jumping is good provided we do it in the dressage arena; he’s lost his nerve in the grass somehow. We entered for the 60cm at SANESA as a precaution but it’s not the height that’s the problem.
Whenever we hack, we’re accompanied by one to three happy Jack Russels. They’re the most incredible little dogs.
Our string of good hacks has grown to the point where I try to take a group every Saturday (except on competing weekends). This was a very beginner group so I walked, but I needn’t have bothered. My sister led the way on Stardust, and Sunè, Renè and Lullaby were perfect.
Ice has an adorable new jacket. It says “dog” in case I forget what he is.
There’s just something about a true black, isn’t there? I thank God for Eagle. I’ve reopened my training, so I don’t get to cherry-pick my training horses anymore. I certainly wouldn’t have picked him – big, sensitive, troubled, athletic. But God sent him here for a reason and he’s given me so much confidence. Thanks Lord.
Cute little brat is on the open market now; I’m so proud of him. He’s such a nice, quality pony and I’m happy to be presenting him to the public. Still, I’ll miss him when he goes. If he doesn’t, we’ve got dressage and jumping at SANESA too. (It’s going to be a little busy).
Lady Erin helps me groom the old queen. She can walk on the lead now, with intermittent use of the bum rope and elbow.
I’m shopping for a (cheap) new bridle for Thunny because all my bridles look like bits of thread on the anvil he calls his head. He’s being incredible – I’m excited for this weekend’s Prelim 2 and 3 on him. We’ve been working hard on that left bend and it’s paying off.
Forgive the short note – there will be pictures of all your favourite South African brat ponies in the next one. For now, a brief explanation. I’ve picked up some part-time proofreading and transcription sort of work. I like it; it pays better and doesn’t hurt as much as the horse thing. Never fear, however – the whole purpose of the writing gig is to bring in some extra funds, especially to expand the yard’s facilities, I hope. There will certainly be no less to tell about the horses, just less time to tell it in.
I’ve scheduled myself three blog posts each week and I hope I’ll be able to stick to it, but the paid writing work has to take priority. I would say it’s regrettable, but in this country, gainful employment is good reason to be grateful to God. To be gainfully employed in more ways than one is even better.
Stick around, we’re still here, adventuring in full force.