“I believe, for the vast majority of horsefolk, that our relationship with our horse is something special, almost sacred. The time we spend with our equine partner is far more than merely ‘riding.'”
“Raw honesty” is what I’ve promised you wonderful HorseNation readers, so, while there will be some upbeat moments in this week’s column, I am compelled to, first and foremost, keep it real.
For me, losing weight is directly tied to my emotional well-being. There’s a reason it’s called “comfort” food – you literally feel better, emotionally, after eating it, due to some complex biochemistry I don’t completely understand.
Throughout the past week, I have found myself often feeling pressured and anxious. Aside from the normal pressures of work and home and “life,” I see images of the devastation from the wildfires all across the Northwest, and from Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, and the exodus from Florida over Hurricane Irma’s impending landfall, and I feel helpless, useless, and sad.
There were moments this past week when I simply hugged Kaliwohi, grateful he is safe with me instead of anywhere in harm’s way. I wept for the animals who have been lost to these disasters, and for those wild creatures that will perish for lack of habitat or food in the coming months.
The time I spent with my beloved mustang this week was not focused on improving his bend, or engaging his hindquarters, or “achieving” anything at all. This week, my “horse time” was all about emotionally leaning on Kaliwohi and our bond for comfort and security and healing.
While some riders (hopefully only a very few!!) may think of their horse as nothing more than a means to an end — winning a championship or whatev — I believe, for the vast majority of horsefolk, that our relationship with our horse is something special, almost sacred. The time we spend with our equine partner is far more than merely “riding.” It’s that hard-to-define, wonderful feeling you get when you walk into the barn or up to the fence and that familiar face immediately pops over the stall door or fence, ears alert and forward, eyes bright with recognition. The time you spend getting the dirt off of his coat, and onto yours. The pride you feel when his mane and tail hang like silky smooth waterfalls. The rhythmic sound of Kaliwohi contentedly munching hay is one of my favorites. And the scent of his coat is one of the best smells in the world.
This is my friend. A wild mustang. He chooses to trust me. He willingly lets me put leather straps on his body, a metal bit in his mouth and my weight on his back. And he tries with his whole, wild heart – every single ride. I cherish our relationship. I appreciate my friend.
I am losing more weight, slowly but surely. I am becoming more fit, slowly but surely. And Kaliwohi and I are becoming a team, slowly but surely. This 21-day challenge has proven difficult for my sugar-craving body to comply with. There’ve been good days and slip-ups; successes and failures. But I have eaten far less sugar than ever before in my life in one week’s time, and I choose to “judge” myself with the same grace I give my young mustang, who is now a mere 90 days under saddle. So, while my eating habits have not been “perfect” these last seven days, they have improved. Small changes add up to big improvements — we all understand that with our horses. And the same is true for us, if we will just give ourselves similar grace.
Regarding details for this week of the challenge: the hardest parts for me so far have been: 1) going without my usual afternoon “pick-me-up” of either a Stroopwafel cookie or a nib of my favorite dark chocolate, and 2) finding time to take a 30-minute walk every day.
One great success this week was attending a celebratory banquet with hundreds of other lawyers and making excellent food choices in both quantity and quality. I used my mantra “channel the Queen” to assure I took small bites, chewed them thoroughly to savor the flavors (such “flavors” as there were – can we say, “banquet food”?), avoided any bread and remained true to my “three bites of dessert” rule! Yay, me! And — BONUS — I wore a beautiful dress I’d been unable to zip up for the past few years! It slipped on easily, zipped in a flash, and was actually a bit too big! Woo hoo!
Moving forward into “week two” of the 21-day challenge, I want to commit to that daily half-hour walk. I eagerly embrace my yoga practice and want to take it up a notch. I hope to show Kaliwohi at Introductory level at a couple of local schooling shows later this autumn. It’s time for me to begin putting our tiny improvements together, like pearls on a string, and enjoy the fruits of our labor thus far.
I’m getting out my autumn/winter clothes and it is fun to try everything on and sort out the things that are much too large for me now, because I’m twenty-plus pounds lighter than I was this time last year. I will donate the items I can no longer wear to my local YWCA for the ladies there to enjoy.
This weekend, I and thousands of my fellow Tennesseans and farm owners in neighboring states welcome with open arms the many horses and families and pets who are getting out of Irma’s path. For any who come to Starlight Farm, we’ll have hot showers, warm places to rest, and, yes, some good old-fashioned comfort food.
Hug your horse!