2011 was not the best year. I think in general it was rather bleak. It wasn’t disappointing, but it wasn’t really exciting. When I say exciting, I don’t mean exciting like winning the lottery, for example. I mean organically exciting. The kind of exciting when you experience the moment you take a peaceful sigh of accomplishment knowing everything has fallen into place, through your hard work and dedication. For me anyway, 2011 was a sort of retrospective stomping ground.
I felt as though 2011 was a time of looking back, sifting through past experiences, examining change and learning from all of this. The mistakes, no matter how bitter or painful – this was a time to experience them for what they were, make peace and carry on. As I was experiencing those experiences, I was also experiencing new experiences cultivated from versions of past experiences. That’s a lot of experiences. So even though 2011, as with all years is full of experiences, held many new challenges and feats both brought through from the past or present, I still felt as though everything was in retrospect.
Going back to 2009, Ink and I had a truly great year (definitely the first half) where we spent time at a great new barn, both of us continued to become better in all aspects. Ink was coming into a truly well-rounded horse. I essentially watched my evolving philosophy with horses blossom right in front of me. Giving me more confidence and trust in myself to actually see something through to such a rewarding degree. Now I’m not saying 2009 didn’t come with it’s challenges, all of what I mention, welcomes challenge and certainly without challenge it wouldn’t have been as great as it was. In 2010, things changed and I knew a journey was soon to be ending. I watched Ink spend his last few weeks on the earth, running and grazing in the hills. I still remember how good it felt to see him be able to move and adjust to the changing terrain on those hills and how I really believed it was a great, sweet last experience in his life. Perhaps while I was watching Ink during those last few weeks, was a sign that I would have to do the same, adjustment and maneuver through the terrain that life would present to me not too far in the future.
After Ink passed away, I knew I needed to bring another horse into my life to help offset the pain and fill the void I felt. I never viewed Reason as Ink, nor as a replacement of being, but I know how easy it would be to assume that. People assumed I was treating Reason as Ink not trying to acknowledge my ability, actual practice and desire to experience them differently and respect that difference. I have fallen down many times after running into a wall with Reason, not because I couldn’t treat him as the horse he was, but because I was still torn inside, wishing to return to my previous state of comfort, confidence, trust and happiness. Instead of flowing through the experience, adjusting to what may come and ultimately focusing on the betterment of myself and this horse, I wanted to get to that previous state without allowing myself to fall into that very personal experience. Even though Reason and Ink are different in many ways, the journey traveled is similar. To me, it has been hard to revisit.
Though hard, a journey with a horse that requires certain prerequisites in order to continue through the journey, is the greatest teacher. It has been a long road to understand this and live this. I cannot move from the spot I’m in without first addressing myself and along the way continue to do so openly acknowledging the parts of myself that require change to truly be happy in this life.
“Like Tom Dorrance said, ‘It boiled down to one thing: observe, remember, and compare.’ Do something, observe what you did, remember what you did, compare it to what you were doing before, and adjust.” – Buck Brannaman