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We Are Flying Solo

September 22, 2011

I'm Afraid Of Good Things

There, I said it.  Because I have to admit, the magic of Encore scares the hell out of me!

Are you on crack, crazy woman? you query incredulously. He's a great horse, full of promise and potential, enjoy it!

Psssh, I can't afford drugs, I have horses! That detail aside, his awesomeness is exactly why he terrifies me.

I longed him today, his second longeing session (we'll not count the bolting gallop-fest that was his pre-purchase exam longe initiation). He politely walked, trotted, and cantered in both directions on a perfect circle. In vienna reins. All on voice command. And automatically switched directions when he halted because I showed him how one time.

See, in my world, this horse is too good to be true. He has a perfect mind, he is perfectly built, he is perfectly trainable, he is perfectly rideable, he has a perfectly professional attitude. He's like a damn unicorn -- absolutely amazing, but not something you'll ever find in your own backyard.

Therefore, I tiptoe through the barn almost afraid to watch him move, sure that he will go ridiculously lame or drop into a deadly colic. I am certain that there is no way the universe would EVER allow me to have a horse like this without some form of serious repercussions that I cannot possibly guess at.

I do remind myself that he still needs a lot of work. His feet are in need of some dedicated rehab; he's quite underweight; neither muscle nor balance are in very good supply and he breaks into a sweat after five minutes of work. So we do have a long road ahead of us and there WILL be speedbumps.

I think I just need him to have a good, old-fashioned idiot day, to just freak out about something ridiculous or do something incredibly stupid and assure me that he is not a hallucination from Fantasy World, but instead a real, flawed, and fully attainable creature who is not lying in wait to crush my soul when I least expect it.

In the meantime, however, I am having a freaking BLAST with this horse -- my barn friend stopped and looked at me the other day. "I don't think I have ever seen you smile so much since I have known you," she offered. "You've had a grin on your face all week, I had no idea you could be that happy!"

So, Jessica, Allie, Suzanne, mum, trainer in Delaware that I don't know, universe -- I am scared out of my wits, but I love it -- THANK YOU.


  1. Um... careful for what you wish! Enjoy him... maybe, just maybe... the universe is giving you it all because you deserve the best!

  2. Awesome!! So glad it is going well for you. Izzy and I are having a definite honeymoon right now and it scares me, but all I can think is "I just don't want this to end". :-) Sounds like you're the same.

  3. I can understand why you are afraid to fully embrace this opportunity because horses are so good at taking us to the highest heights and then to the lowest lows but girl embrace it and take it all in. I am defintely cheering you on from Indiana!

  4. OK, buttercup, you need to take a deep breath, put on your Big Girl Pants, and ENJOY YOUR HORSE!! Don't worry--the universe is not conspiring against you. ;-)

  5. I totally get this - I feel the exact same way about my mare. I am terrified every night that I will wake up the next day to a dead or dying horse. *touch wood*

  6. Is it good to know that most all of you out there feel the same as me??!!! Maybe it is the old life is fragile that runs thru our brains. Enjoy that boy!

  7. I totally understand that feeling! My personal horse has been nothing but heart aches all year but that is horses. I have learned to just roll with it and enjoy every ride.

    It's sometimes unbelievable just how good these horses are and you get off thinking to yourself that you are the luckiest person in the world. I suppose that is why I love working with all the CANTER horses. It's the biggest reward seeing these awesome horses end up in great homes.

    My friend came out to ride with me last night and rode Burgiss. He's the super cute chestnut 4yr and he is so damn quiet and adorable. She couldn't get over how easy and quiet he was. She said that perhaps people don't believe me because I do this for a living but damn he was just that quiet :) I got a good laugh out of that.

    I'm so glad you appreciate your boy. He's one tough cookie so hopefully no breaking!

  8. Oh believe me, I am enjoying it! Thanks for all the words of support, I am going to try very hard to just take each day as it comes! It is definitely sweet sweet honeymoon period.

    Jess, it's funny that you mention how quiet Burgiss is, Encore is much the same. In fact, at our dressage show last week, a woman asked if he was 1/2 QH because he was so quiet and professional! I looked down at the rangy 16.2 hands of racy-looking leanness beneath me and laughed. Nope, he's all TB!

  9. Believe it's real and enjoy :)
    I kind of know what you mean though. While my horse isn't perfect, some days I look at him and can't believe I own a horse like him. Guess the universe gives us gifts sometimes.

  10. And the scarier part?

    It is going to get even better!

  11. I know what you mean... I think you're a bit psychologically damaged because of what happened to Solo. When we got our dog I was really afraid to love her, because we lost our first one so young and tragically (had to be euth'd due to epilepsy at 16 mo. old). Just give yourself time - you will relax and be able to really enjoy your new guy, and not constantly worry about something happening to him. Tincture of time! (And meanwhile, still sending good thoughts of healing to Solo, bless his shiny red heart)

  12. You have earned every smile you have given away....and then some! Over the last four years you have had joys, sorrows, heartache and anguish. It is now your turn to let the universe shine its loving light in your direction. Leave the fear behind and let Encore and his gifts fill your soul to overflowing. Solo got you this far - let Encore carry you to the next milestone. Reach for the stars and laugh out loud during the journey!

  13. Ahhh, Val, better? My head exploded, LOL!

    Thanks, RW, I am still working on Solo too. We have another month to wait to see if anything changes. I am not a good waiter.

    Thanks, mum!

    We will have to compare notes...and I will have to get my ass down South of the border next summer to meet up at an event!!!!
    We can compare the 'wonder horses' in person!

  15. I feel like this all.the.time.

    So... you're not alone :)

  16. We would love your equine blog to be featured on a new Equine Blogging Network for all to follow. Come along to and join us!

  17. Try to enjoy it. Breath in his goodleness and treasure it!

  18. Thanks, Braff -- and YES, you need to get Ecogold to send you to Carolina Horse Park in 2012!!

    Ellie -- sweet, I love partners in crime!

    sam -- thanks, I will look it up!

    Nina -- goodleness is my new favourite word, I love it!

  19. Brena I'm giggling catching up on your blog because I swear most of my conversations with people about our horses starts with "I promise, they are ALL LIKE THIS for the most part" (as I'm walking over a tarp in the woods or popping over a fallen tree. I used to be a firm believe in the fact that there were horses. And some of those horses were quiet, and some of them were not and that's just how it was and you weren't going to change it. But running CMA, I've had a LOT of chances to experiment with what works and what produces the quietest horse and really it comes down to the fact that we have a system that *works*. There are two camps in the retraining world--turn them out or get on and ride. I am lucky enough that I got to experiment with dozens of horses to see what worked and what I learned is that time off is *essential* to producing a quiet brain. We have had three or four horses out of several hundred that were not ridiculously quiet, and those horses were honestly on the quiet side but not the tolerant side if that makes sense. There has to be something to our system because we consistently turn out horses who can do everything and anything with pretty much anybody on them--I think that's badass :) I told Suzanne recently that I need to helmet-cam some of our hacks because people would not believe what we do and how good our horses are. It's all about showing them a new life, and letting them come around to feeling like they'd like that new life. A quiet brain is a teachable brain, and time off to be a horse is the most effective way to reaching brain-happiness :)
    I'm so geeked you love your new horse--it's hard for us to let them go, not only because we love them, but mostly because we want to make sure we prepared them well for life and accurately represented who they are so that their new owners love them like we did. Reading your blog shows me we did that and then some, and that makes the tough days much easier!
    Enough babbling, have fun and enjoy and exhale! (i totally know that fear, I'm terrified to really really love my horse (how sad!) because I think he'll die :( )

  20. Allie, you have done it right and done it well. I just keep looking at Encore and thinking how lucky he is to have found people who all worked together to give him such a great chance at a new career. I hope that we can join the ranks of CANTERMA ambassadors and show people what can happen when you give a horse some breathing room. We can't stop them from being walking suicide machines, but giving them the opportunities to have great lives is really a priceless gift that you and CANTER give.

  21. Allie,
    (I hope you see this) I just read your comment with great interest, for a couple reasons: number one being that I hope to have my own OTTB one day. Number two is I didn't fully realize that there differing opinions on handling the transition from the track. I guess I thought most of the horses WERE given a let-down period?

    However, just the other day I found an OTTB available from a respected retraining facility who went to a local show and pinned very well, TWO WEEKS off the track. That seemed a bit much! And now I read your comment... so that's got me thinking.

    Believe me, I'm filing your informed opinion away for future reference. :-)

  22. I, too, have found an absolutely perfect (for me) young horse who has the mind, movement, looks and temperament far beyond anything I could have dreamed of when I was shopping with my loooooow budget.

    After a year, the "pinch me" feeling remains.

    Some horses are just that good.