hummm - where to start??? Better go ahead and get comfortable. This could be a long story.
A lot has happened in regards to my "sidesaddle" career since the end of last year....and I mean a LOT!
Don completed his year long Hepatits C treatment mid September which was so very grueling, he was unable to work. We were blessed with a vacation at our dear friends home in Vermont and he quickly started to feel much better. A few weeks after we returned, he paid a visit to his old job to see if there was an opening for him. They responded with eager excitement, but said he has to have a doctors release in order to come back. Don went back to the doctors office and obtained the release his former employer requested. This legal release unbinds the disability insurance company from making any further payments....
The release was faxed over to Don's former employer and then we waited for him to be given a day to start work again..... and we waited....and waited ....and waited.....
Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. Don paid frequent visits to the place of business. He always kept his attitude positive and held tight to hope. I prayed. Many a times, when to me it looked as though all was going awray, actually from the Lord's perspective, things were only being alligned for a bigger and better blessing. As we all know though, when you are the one who is in the dark, it is very difficult to keep the faith. Little whispers of doubt creep into your mind and your heart... especially if you are the one doing the bills!
Why oh why is it that I can trust the Lord with my 'eternity', but have such a difficult time trusting Him with my 'daily'???
By late November, Don had given up hope of returning to his former company in any capacity. He rose each morning, dressed to the nines and made countless cold calls to companies where he felt his talents and experience would prosper. Several times he returned home late in the evening with new prospects and a tone of excitement. The only problem was the time of the year. It is rare that any company will release an employee in the height of the holiday season so although several employers were eager to take him on, the actual jobs would not be available until the new year.
When I first took Sport to Bluebonnet for training over 18 months prior, he was a skant, timid gelding who first approached his new stall with his legs so splayed out in fear, he crept down the isle as if he were a spider. He is a sweet soul and has the spirit we love in all of our horses, the one that desires to please...but due to the uncertainty of Don's illness, his training had been delayed by 2 years. At this point he was really only trained to lead.
In the first 12 months, Sandy and the whole Bluebonnet Farm crew made amazing progress with him. In such a short amount of time Sport mastered the art of lungeing, long lining, the art of driving, being broke to carry a rider at the flat walk, trot and canter and then he even went on to learn how to slow gait and rack. He was truly a well loved horse by all who worked with him. He never backed an ear. He even accepted the sidesaddle as though he had ridden in it all of his life.
During this time, he was worked with a training bridle consisting of a snaffel bit using 4 reins with the lower set being run through a simple martingale. Sport had always had a naturally high beautiful head set but when he was trasitioned over to the full Weymouth bridle, even the ones modified for young horses, he clearly not happy. Sadly American Saddlebred horses showing in performance classes have little variation of the manditory type of bridle they must wear.
I continued to take lessons on him, most of the time in the snaffle bridle and shortly before a show, the show bridle was put on him and we encountered problems. Using the snaffle only, I needed to take ahold, keeping constant contact with his mouth, especially the lower curb rein. With the Weymouth bridle though, if I was to make any contact, he would toss and shake his head, yet without contact, he had his nose so far into the air and in turn hollowing out his back, it made for an unacceptable picture ~ per sey. I tried to come to a happy medium and we did have moments of success, but with never enough consistency for either Sandy or me to feel comfortable for me to show him in the full bridle at a horse show. Sandy had shown Sport twice for me in his early training and once using the full bridle. Once the novility of the suroundings wore off, he tossed his head and broke gait, just as he was doing with me at the barn. No doubt, with me lesson riding him aside, it was even more difficult. My once earred up happy horse... well was not looking happy anymore. He was jumping off the rail more often. His ears were not up and forward as they used to be and he just seemed distracted.
My goal for 2012 was to show Sport aside. No matter what class, I just wanted to get into the ring with him and that is exactly what we accomplished at TASHA. I am so thankful to Sandy and all the others who helped to reach that dream.
...but now, here it was in early December. In light of what was going on with Don I felt just as Sport did... not all that happy and quite distracted. I thought how fun it would be to get away and go on a vacation... Humm, Vacation.... VACATION! That is what Sport needed... a vacation from training. A homecoming of sorts, to see his horse family and to run about for a while and just be a horse again. It was right then I made the call to tell those who needed to know that Sport would be coming home with me that next weekend.
....to be continued