Central Chapter News - May 2015

A Beautiful Horse

by Vicki Hodel

What is my 2014 memorable moment? This is a hard one. 2014 was a year of many highs and lows. There isn’t one WOW moment for me this year. Instead, it was a year of revelations and growth.

The year started off great. I started riding Beamer for Shelly Reichart. Beamer was amazing and I really learned some great things about how to ride him correctly. I was so excited and he was progressing so well that I finally got up the courage to attend our first show!

 

Beamer

I decided WEC (Wisconsin Equestrian Center) would be a great place to go. It was a long drive and after lots of detours we finally made it! Wow, what a beautiful facility with such friendly staff. I got unloaded, settled Beamer in and parked the truck. I quick walk around the grounds to get my bearings and I was ready.

We dressed and entered the warm-up ring, where again everyone was so nice. I received a lot of compliments on our turnout and also on Beamer. I was feeling so positive! Almost our turn and so we walked down to the ring. Ding Ding….we’re up. Ok, breathe. We enter and start our test. Breathe-Trot in, halt and X (it’s square, oh that you), nod to the judge and away we go. Beamer felt really nice, a little fussy with the footing but behaving. He was so calm that I wasn’t sure I was on the right horse. Then it happened… a whistle. Change rein, wait what? Did I hear a whistle? Unfortunately I did, so we walked up and talked with the judge.

So hears the low…Beamer is 22 years old. He’s had a long career of Dressage, Eventing and Jumping. The judge felt that there was enough arthritis showing that she didn’t want us to continue. Wow! What a blow. “Keep your cool, don’t cry and its ok” I thought. I calmly walked Beamer out of the arena and to the barns. I was devastated and I still get teary eyed when I think about that day. What a feeling to be rung out on our first show when things had been going so well.

So now the thinking starts and I was faced with some real decisions to make. What do I do now? Enter him into another show and see what happens? Pack it up and put him out to pasture? There was a lot of crying, yelling and discussing the situation and his arthritis with doctors, friends and trainers.

Beamer

I realized then, that his riding future and longevity was in my hands. I could continue to train him hard, riding every day and increasing his levels. I could put him on medications. I could keep taking him to shows. Then I realized…why would I want to do all those things if I don’t have to? I don’t have to train him to 3rd Level. I don’t have to ride him every day for hours. I don’t have to put him on medications so that his arthritis doesn’t show, so that I can get a ribbon.

I had a choice.

I chose to listen to my horse. I chose to understand his level of training, his physical health and his future life with me. I chose to know that we were not going to Rolex, The Olympics or any other competition. I chose to know that even if we were, how long would I have this wonderful horse in my life, if I pushed beyond a reasonable limit. For what? For my gain. It just isn’t worth it.

My memorable moment for 2014 was the total realization that my horses are my life. And my life isn’t complete without them. As their owner and caretaker, it is my duty to provide the best care possible. This past year has taught me how to truly embrace husbandry and my role.