Expecting and Eventing: Ride While You Can?

Trying to even pretend to plan for taking months off from your life’s passion is hard work, y’all.

(Read Part 1 of the series here)

Horse Nation Lorraine Jackson

I found out I was pregnant early one Saturday morning this past winter, and as luck would have it, I had a jumping lesson scheduled for that same day.  While my mind was still whirling on subjects far from gridwork and distances, it did require me to immediately confront the convergence of these two worlds. And cancelling to just sit and ponder being pregnant felt silly. I felt fine, it was a beautiful crisp morning, and there was no reason not to get on and have the ride of a lifetime. And that was exactly what I did.

There is grand and powerful beauty in truly engrossing horsemanship. I think back on that exceptional lesson as one of the great gifts of my early pregnancy. Even as my whole life suddenly felt tossed up and suspended in midair, for 45 minutes, I wasn’t pregnant. I was just my horse’s guide, partner, and trainer. I was living so fully in that moment, and in retrospect, I see it as a first tiny metaphor in my future balancing act. Live fully in the moment that you’re in, take the feeling with you, and move on to the next brilliant, exciting part of the life you’ve built. Horses will teach you early and unapologetically that each element of life is going to have incredibly bright and incredibly dark moments and everything within that spectrum, and you better grasp tightly to the light when you get it.

I used that feeling to chase down every scrap of brightness I could see, and in the process got in some beautiful rides and lessons before morning sickness and winter weather brought in its long and tireless darkness.

But I also can’t deny that I immediately felt all my short term goals for my eventing career shift, and my time at the barn was being driven much more by emotional needs than my long or short term goals. There would be no big show the following spring or summer to work towards, and I had to reorient what I wanted out of my daily hours at the barn in the meantime.

I took Itxa for long hand walks in the fading fall grass and spent extra time getting her four tall white socks as white as I could without a bath. I sat near her while she munched in her pen, and gave more butt scratches than I care to admit because I know it’s her favorite thing in the world. While part of me kept hearing this pounding inner dialogue to “Ride while you can! Here comes morning sickness, and giant belly, and hips widening, and then a BABY! Hurry hurry hurry!”, another part of me knew that I needed the quiet golden hour that exists between a girl and her grazing horse to buoy me through the coming months of distance and change.

This shift that had originally been selfishly driven by my emotional needs also allowed me to slow down and listen to my horse’s needs, which is no small concern when you’re dealing with a redheaded 4-year-old mustang mare with a complicated past. I think we both grew a lot in that time of piling on the loving on my “first born” — the one who has none of my DNA, doesn’t speak my language, but who completely captured my heart with her funny tail and full range of teenage girl feelings.

Now months later, I see more clearly how that time impacted both of us and affected the decisions that I would make to preserve her happiness and mine.

Go Riding. (In my honor, since I can’t.)

Lorraine has been a regular contributor to Horse Nation since its inception in 2012. Her non-horsey but seriously awesome husband Dan, her 5-year-old BLM mare Itxa, Australian Shepherd Rev, and stupid cat Jeoffrey live in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Utah. They are stoked to invite another human into the Zoo in July, 2015. And because she gets this a lot, her horse’s name is pronounced EEE-chah, and yes, horse show announcers and organizers can and should hate her for her horse-naming hubris.

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