by Tamara Baysinger
I wrote the post below on March 27, 2011. Purely by mysterious coincidence, I went looking for it today ~ exactly nine years later.
So much has changed. I don't condition along the roads anymore. I ride different horses. And yet, in these days of unease and isolation, the idea that we are all connected (across distance, without even knowing names) is worth holding onto.
Step back with me into the past, won't you? And into the future.
There’s something about being on a horse that makes people want to say hello.
I do most of my conditioning rides on the grid of agricultural roads surrounding my farm. Just about everyone who passes in a car, driving a tractor, or riding a motorcycle offers a wave. Once in a while, someone stops to chat.
Sometimes, they’re concerned about my safety. Sometimes, they are horse people curious about Consolation’s breed, hoof boots, or tack. Sometimes, they just comment on the pretty day, the pretty horse, and (without saying so outright) the pretty nice feeling that most people make the world a better place.
Just last week, a guy pulled his truck over to ask if he could introduce his half-grown Weimaraner to Consolation in the hope that the pup would be less inclined to chase horses in the future.
A couple miles up the road, a faded sedan stopped in the oncoming lane. The window rolled down to reveal the gentleman with the Walkaloosas, who occasionally drops by my farm astride his favorite mare. His face was unusually ashen, his eyes hollow. I asked how he was, and he said not well. We talked horses and weather. And then he said he’d lost one of his grandsons the day before. The boy was three months old. Found dead in his crib, of unknown cause. A foal was due at his place any day; I should drop by. I said I would.
Then there is the woman who rents the old house at the S-bend. Her driveway is full of old cars from a lot owned by her husband, who recently passed. She has a new mare, a gentle, senior Paint found on Craigslist for $250. Perhaps we’ll ride the irrigation road some evening, and she will tell her story.
Two of my favorites have names I don’t know. One is the mail carrier, always cheerful in her white Jeep with the orange light on top. Sometimes I wonder how much she knows about me, from my mail, and seems to like me anyway.
And, there is the migrant worker with the battered, two-tone pickup he drives among ditches, fields, and barns. We pass each other often, sometimes several times a day. My clothes and activities change — from breeches for riding to jeans for training to shorts for sprinting — and our frequent, speechless encounters make us laugh.
There is the husband and wife team that drives the school bus, the cattle rancher whose stock sometimes turn up on my land, the gardener whose handiwork I always slow to admire. There are the cyclists who call out to let me know they’re passing, men who cut the motors on their chain saws though Consolation isn’t spooky, the reining competitor whose trailer I once borrowed for a veterinary emergency. Kids who wave, kids too shy. Dog-walkers. Seasonal workers grinning under broad-brimmed hats. A loose collection of folks who know almost nothing, yet almost everything, about each other.
People sometimes ask if I get bored of riding by myself. Not often, I say, and I’m sincere. But the truth is, I don’t really ride alone.
[Originally published in The Barb Wire, March 2011]
by Tamara Baysinger
We are grounded.
To varying degrees around the world, we are all being asked to stay home. No concerts, no weddings, no casual afternoons trying on shoes at the strip mall. There is much talk of these measures being too little, too late – or perhaps too much, too soon. We don’t know how bad it will be or how long it will last.
We equestrians, especially the introverts among us, are filling social media with memes: Our sport was made for social distancing. We’ve practiced our whole lives for this. Indeed, we are among the lucky ones whose passions aren’t immediately stifled by the pandemic. This situation would be even harder if we were, say, avid sport climbers or Irish dancers.
But our events are being cancelled, too. Rides are dropping off the calendar as managers make fraught decisions for the good of the whole, or have their hands forced by governmental edicts. Some of us have horses fit to race. Others, like myself, are holding onto the dissolving hope of finally having a good year. All of us are, quite literally, grounded.
Of course, most of us can still mount up and hit the trail. But how is your mental game?
Distance riders tend to be a Type A, goal-driven bunch. We grow despondent when our targets are taken away. Without an event to shoot for, our motivation wanes. Conditioning loses its urgency. Maybe we won’t go ride today.
My own tendencies run in the all-or-nothing vein. I’m the sort to choose my path carefully, then jump in with both feet. So here I am: up in the air, looking down at the evaporating pool where I had expected to land.
It’s the uncertainty that hurts. Will we have a ride season, or won’t we? Will the medical system get overwhelmed – and if it does, should we refrain from riding, given the high-risk nature of our sport? How will the economic impact resound, and for how long? Will we come out of this with the jobs and homes and hay and lifestyles to which we’ve grown accustomed?
We simply don’t know. Maybe the containment and mitigation measures being taken will succeed, and the economy will right itself posthaste. Maybe not. Data models can speculate, laypeople can debate, but in the end, only time will tell.
It’s like looking out the window and watching your horse cross the paddock, still favoring that tendon he injured last fall. Will he recover fully, or is his endurance career a bust? We don’t know, so we wait, and the ball of anxiety in our stomach burns.
Life takes us there sometimes. To the place where there are no answers, no matter how badly we want them. A cancer diagnosis. A career disruption. A pandemic.
It’s something I’ve thought a lot about in recent months, this challenge of finding peace in the midst of uncertainty. I think there’s much to be said for the meditative practice of simply acknowledging, without judgement, what is. What is in the world. What is in our minds. And then (this is key), letting go of wishing things were different.
You can get redneck with this concept: Wish in one hand, shit in the other, and see which fills up fastest.
Or, you can put it as Buddha did: You can only lose what you cling to.
Either way, the idea is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. To be okay with not being okay. To learn to rest in the wait.
That is a worthy goal, my friends. Something we can work on while we condition for rides that may or may not happen. A frame in which to collect the power of our restlessness.
So let go. Go ride.
by Tamara Baysinger
My first job was at a small, shabby horse farm in the valley below my childhood home. Its driveway peeled off from the corner of a gravel road lined with triple-strand hotwire paddocks, all nibbled bare and dotted with broodmares. The barn was creaky and drafty, with packed dirt aisles and a cloth-draped radio tuned to the country station. It smelled of shavings and Coppertox, of wool coolers and, when the wind blew west, the manure pile out back.
I remember the horses, each dished face with black globes for eyes. Each name and star and sock and personality, even the patterns they left in the stalls I cleaned day over day for a couple years between the ages of twelve and fourteen. I can still sing along about you and me goin’ fishin’ in the dark. I remember the mare that colicked and made me put my foot down with my mom for the first time, because I really could not leave her to go to my piano lesson, $60 paid in advance or not.
Most of all, I remember the farm’s owner. She was short and craggy, with cropped hair dyed black and heavy makeup that sharpened her narrow eyes nearly as much as the suspicion that always lay behind them. I rarely saw her without bloodred lips. The lips almost never smiled.
Her name was not Mae, but let’s pretend.
Mae had a jovial husband, round in the belly and sad behind his grin. I saw him only occasionally, but he was always kind to me. I marveled to see him with Mae, because the pair of them were so different. He gentle and she harsh, he easygoing and she tense. Terse. Poised like a wire stretched too tight, clinging white-knuckled to her tough persona. I wondered, even then, then if it was all she had.
She loved her horses in the way hurting people do. In the way that says: you alone will not betray me. You are not my daughter who grew up and moved away and never calls. You are not the old husbands who cheated, the farmhouse falling down around my ears, the abusive parents, the unfair manager who cost me a career, the drunk driver who jabbed this endless pain into my spine.
I am guessing. Mae never told me her story. Not in words. But I worked for her long enough, well enough, that she sometimes let her armor slip aside. Beneath cowered a woman who wore Paloma Picasso and gave me a tiny bottle for Christmas. Who sold me a colt for less than he was worth, taught me to build his hindquarters and stand him up, paid for an overnight trip to Washington where he won Reserve Champion at the big Arabian show.
She gave me tea in her cluttered living room on rainy days, rasped in her smoker’s voice over the soap operas that were the anthem of her afternoons. She said little of substance, but the things she did not say told me her rocky exterior was only a dam of anger holding back a lifetime of tears.
I think of her in the hard times. How quick she was to wrath, how limited her capacity for joy. Her path, whatever came before, had left her all but devoid of any ability to trust. I think that’s why she liked me, and perhaps her husband, too. Our loyalty was simple. Consistent. It surprised her. It was the only thing that reminded her to smile.
The thing about hard times is that they end. Worst case scenario, they end because we’ve died. Best case, and most common, either we or events around us shift and the trail widens and we carry on. This is when we make our decisions:
What will we carry with us? The pain, or the healing? The betrayal, or the wisdom? The longing, or the truth? Will we come away with greater confidence than before, and with gratitude, because we have learned how strong we are? Or will we be cut off, shut down, stolen away?
I saw Mae cry once. Several years after I stopped working for her, I dropped by her place to deliver a framed pencil drawing I’d done of the stallion Ben Bask. It was one of my better pieces. I have no idea why I wanted to give it to her, except that I thought she deserved to be remembered. To be thanked for teaching me ~ without knowing, through bad example ~ how I do not want to be.
She is probably dead now. Resentment like hers destroys body and soul before their time. But I am not afraid to hope (because that I what I do) that before the end she found another way, and didn’t let the winter take her after all.
[Originally published in The Barb Wire, March 2013]
Learning to Walk
by Tamara Baysinger
As conditioning rides get longer and competition days loom, distance riders focus more than ever on ensuring their horses' welfare. The inextricably linked factors of hydration and electrolytes are key to success.
This article will explore the interplay of hydration and electrolytes in distance horses. We’ll consider why fluids are lost and how electrolytes are relevant to hydration. We will also cover steps riders can take to minimize losses and replace water and electrolytes in their hard-working horses.
Equine athletes generate an astonishing amount of heat. Susan Garlinghouse, DVM, observed in a 2000 Endurance News article that "During a fifty-mile ride in ambient temperatures, the average horse will produce enough heat to melt a 150-pound block of ice, and then bring that water to a boil."
The distance horse’s welfare depends on his ability to efficiently shed all that heat. Horses cool themselves primarily through respiration and sweating. Dr. Garlinghouse notes that a horse working in hot conditions can lose 1.5 to 4 gallons of sweat per hour. All that water comes from fluid stored within cells, between cells, and in the digestive tract.
Dehydration causes the blood to thicken, which results in reduced blood flow to the cooling network of blood vessels in the skin, as well as muscle fatigue. Additionally, a horse’s pH becomes more alkaline during protracted exercise, potentially leading to symptoms such as disrupted nerve signaling (perhaps resulting in clumsiness or “thumps”), muscle cramps, irregular heartbeat, and gut malfunction (Nancy Loving, DVM, All Horse Systems Go).
Critically, experts including Dr. Garlinghouse and Dr. Harold Schott of Michigan State University point out, as a horse sweats his rate of electrolyte loss keeps pace with his rate of fluid loss. This means that sweating doesn't result in in the increased concentration of sodium in the bloodstream that is necessary to trigger the thirst response. As a result, the horse can be quite dehydrated but fail to show interest in drinking.
Minimizing Fluid and Electrolyte Losses in the Working Horse
The first step to minimizing fluid and electrolyte losses begins long before competition day, with your conditioning program. Nancy Loving, DVM, notes in her book Going the Distance that as a horse gains fitness, his network of blood vessels and capillary beds expands. This allows more blood to be carried to the surface for cooling. Additionally, an overweight horse that leans out during conditioning has less insulation to trap heat.
The horse’s diet also contributes to his ability to stay cool and hydrated. A gut full of forage holds about 20 gallons of fluid, much of which can be transferred to the bloodstream when needed. For this reason, maximizing forage intake in the days prior to a challenging ride is particularly important. Choosing grass hay over alfalfa will cause the horse to generate less internal heat during the digestive process.
There has been much discussion in the distance riding community regarding whether horses should be pre-dosed with electrolytes before an event. Dr. Garlinghouse points out that while supplementing with additional electrolytes for days in advance of a ride is unnecessary, as the excess will simply be excreted in urine, providing small doses early and often on race day helps encourage drinking and prevent depletion (Endurance News, 2000).
Replacing Fluid and Electrolytes during Competition
During a distance event, especially in hot or humid conditions, it is not possible to fully replace all the fluid and electrolytes your horse is bound to lose. However, steps can be taken to support him with partial replenishment that is sufficient to complete the mileage safely.
The first step to is to adjust your ride plan to the conditions. Heat obviously causes a horse to sweat more. Humidity can reduce the cooling benefits of sweat dramatically, even serving as insulation if the air is still. A horse that is still shedding out his winter coat may struggle on an unseasonably warm, spring day. It may be wise to ride slower than planned in order to ensure your horse’s welfare.
Dr. Garlinghouse emphasizes that it is always best to supplement electrolytes before a horse becomes dehydrated and after he has consumed water. Concerning timing of electrolyte administration, Dr. Loving notes that orally administered electrolytes take 1-2 hours to enter the bloodstream.
Research by Dr. Schott and his team at Michigan State University demonstrates that horses go on to drink more overall if they consume water containing electrolytes before consuming plain water. During holds, you can offer water with a dose of electrolytes mixed in. It is generally recommended to offer plain water as well, in case the horse refuses the saltier option.
Some horses will eat electrolytes mixed into a sloppy mash. If your horse won’t eat or drink his electrolytes, and must be dosed with a syringe, it is best to wait until after he has consumed feed and water so you don’t accidentally curb his appetite. In order to protect sensitive stomach tissues from ulcer formation or upset, many riders offer a bit of alfalfa or some antacid (without bicarbonate as an ingredient) as a buffering agent alongside electrolytes.
After a long-distance effort, a horse that is eating and drinking well may benefit from continued electrolyte supplementation for a day or so to help him recover. Exhausted or dehydrated horses, however, should be evaluated by the vet before dosing.
Establishing an exact protocol ~ which product should be given, how much, and how often to a particular individual on any given day ~ is an art and science sufficient to challenge any horseman for a lifetime. If you’re a beginner, don’t hesitate to reach out to the vet, your mentor, or more experienced riders for advice.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to understanding what is going on under the hood. Observe your horse carefully throughout the ride. When in doubt, slow down and give him a chance to graze. And remember, to finish is to win.
Top 5 Book Recommendations for Distance Riders
by Tamara Baysinger
What is endurance riding?
Endurance riding, or endurance racing, is an equestrian sport in which horse-and-rider teams complete a marked trail course of 50 miles or more in a single day. All horses must pass periodic veterinary evaluations to ensure they are “fit to continue.” All equine breeds are welcome, and riders of all ages and genders participate together.
What is limited distance?
Most endurance events also offer shorter rides of about 25 miles. These “limited distance” or “LD” rides follow slightly different rules than those that apply to endurance. They offer an opportunity for horses and riders to prepare both mentally and physically for longer rides.
Limited distance also provides an opportunity for ongoing participation by horses and riders that, for various reasons, can’t or don’t wish to do longer rides.
What are introductory rides?
Many endurance events offer “intro” rides alongside the endurance and limited distance rides. These are non-competitive trail rides that allow participants to enjoy a marked course (usually of about 10-15 miles) and observe ride camp and vet checks in action. Most ride vets are happy to give intro riders the experience of a full vet check, as long as they aren’t swamped with endurance and LD riders.
Attending an intro ride is a great way to meet people. Just take a camp chair and hang around the timing desk, which will be near the vet check area, to chat. You'll also be able to observe how your horse responds to the ride camp environment, which will be useful down the road.
Is endurance a competitive event?
Yes and no. Technically, endurance races are just that – races. The first one across the finish line (with a healthy horse) wins.
However, many people prefer the term endurance riding, rather than endurance racing, because it is more reflective of the predominant attitude that “to finish is to win.” The majority of endurance riders are out there for fun and individual challenge. They are riding, not racing, and a mid-pack or back-of-pack finish is totally fine.
Think of it like a human marathon. It’s a race that a small percentage of participants is actually trying to win. Most entrants are there to challenge themselves, have a great time, and complete the miles.
Are limited distance rides competitive?
Again, yes and no, for all the same reasons. Some riders focus on conditioning their horses to race LD, but most use these short riders for training and conditioning. Personally, I think there are some good reasons to “lose."
How can I get started?
There are many ways to get started in endurance – even if you don’t have the perfect horse, or any horse at all. Here are some ideas:
Why You Should Lose Your First LD
by Tamara Baysinger
It's so fun to go fast, and so tempting to race! Why not take on that first event with a vengeance? Welllll...there are actually some great reasons to slow down.
1. You’ll get people’s respect.
It may seem counterintuitive, but riding conservatively at first is the best way to make friends in this sport. Endurance people are much more impressed by concern for the horse than by speed.
One year in my region, a newcomer showed up with a hot mount and proceeded to sweep a summer’s worth of wins. At first, other riders wondered whether the rider was unable to control the horse. Then they speculated that the rider didn’t know – or worse, didn’t care – enough about the horse’s well-being to keep it at a safe pace. Even if it didn’t have a metabolic crisis, it was bound to go lame.
I shared a post-ride dinner table with the rider once and learned that the horse, while new to endurance, actually had quite an impressive fitness background from its lifetime on a mountain ranch. Nevertheless, the rumors (whether true or false) proved hard to overcome. Folks weren't trying to be snarky; they were just concerned.
That horse and rider vanished toward the end of the season. I never learned why. The point is: It’s possible that your horse really is ready to get out there and win. But I still don’t recommend it.
2. Your horse won’t get the wrong idea.
Most horses tend to get racy in a high-energy, group situation no matter what. One of the best things you can do for your horse’s mind is show him, right from the beginning, that you will be asking him to focus on you rather than letting his emotions take over. First pace, then (maybe someday) race.
3. You’ll get your money’s worth.
Riding at a moderate pace is fun! You’ll have more time to talk to people. You won’t get frowned at by the vet. You can relax about making mistakes as you learn the ropes.
Of course, not coming in first isn't losing at all! Finishing your first LD at any pace is an accomplishment. Finishing with a happy, healthy horse -- ready to go again soon -- is a triumph.
7 Important Things Every Endurance Horse Should Know
by Tamara Baysinger
It’s easy to get caught up in conditioning your horse for endurance and forget that he also needs to be trained to succeed in the sport. Those annoying, little misbehaviors that are easy to overlook at home can become a real headache when you get to a ride. Besides, focused training is a great way to spend time with your horse on his rest days.
Here are a few things to brush up on:
1. Trailer Loading
Having a horse that loads willingly not only makes traveling to and from rides less stressful, it could also save your horse's life. You don’t want a loading battle on top of an colic emergency. If possible, practice loading your horse in different types of trailers (stock, slant, and straight, with different door styles). This could come in handy if he gets pulled at a vet check many miles from camp and needs to hitch a ride in someone else's rig.
Even if you have a portable corral instead of a hi-tie, you never know when you’ll need to leave your horse tied. It’s really nice to be confident that he won’t pull back, even if another horse gets loose in camp while you’re saddling up at your trailer. Blocker tie rings can be helpful for horses that struggle with this.
3. Being Handled by Strangers
Make sure your horse isn’t going to freak out when someone with a clipboard and stethoscope looms in to listen to his heartbeat. The vet will be happier if you’ve prepared your horse to have his lips handled, his tail lifted, his back and legs palpated, his skin pinched, and his belly tickled with a stethoscope.
4. Hoof Handling
In addition to the possibility of emergency farrier service, you may need to do some last-minute rasping or reapply a hoof boot out on the trail. This is a lot easier if your horse is standing still.
Most horses (not to mention many riders) will feel compelled to keep up with faster horses on the trail. Some will lose motivation and poke along in the absence of a buddy. Your life will be much easier if you’ve worked in advance on quietly passing, being passed, going out solo, and settling down in groups. The idea is to get to a place where your horse will maintain not only the gait, but also the speed, you request.
6. Standing Still for Mounting
Not only will obedience in this department make your start smoother, you’ll be extra glad you put the time into training when you have to haul yourself aboard after yet another gate or vet check.
7. Trotting in Hand
This is an easy one to forget because it isn’t necessary for most of our daily horse handling. However, a nice trot-out looks great for the vet -- and having to drag an unwilling or confused horse along is frustrating for all concerned. (Pro tip: Practice trotting in circles, as well as a straight line, in case you want to show for Best Condition.)
Of course, it’s possible that despite your best efforts, your horse will still forget all his lessons come ride day. Don’t be embarrassed – we have all been there, and most people will be sympathetic. The one thing that folks find really tough to overlook is behavior that endangers other horses or people. If your horse has an aggression issue, be sure to deal with it thoroughly in advance, then take extra precautions at the ride, just in case.
by Tamara Baysinger
After I learned that endurance riding was a thing, it took four years for me to actually get started. I spent the time reading everything I could get my hands on. That was back before the internet had much to say about distance riding, which meant I was ordering actual, paper books. I lost them all in a house fire in 2018. These are the first five that I replaced:
1. Go the Distance: The Complete Resource for Endurance Horses by Nancy S. Loving, DVM
This book was my bible as I got started in the sport, and I still re-read it periodically. Written by a veterinarian and experienced endurance rider, it covers all the basics: horse selection, conditioning, nutrition, metabolic health, cooling strategies, hoof care, common mistakes to avoid, and more. Though originally published in 1997, it is extremely well written and the content holds up (even if the riders' clothing in some of the photos doesn't).
2. America's Long Distance Challenge II: New Century, New Trails, and More Miles by Karen Bumgarner
This is another comprehensive book about preparing for, and competing in, endurance distance rides. The author's endurance career began before AERC's current record book, which starts in 1985, and is closing in on 30,000 miles. I am eternally grateful to have had her as my mentor and can certainly vouch for her expertise. But don't take my word for it. As of this writing, her AERC record shows 368 endurance rides (including 44 hundred-milers) with only 12 pulls. Astounding.
3. EMERGENCY! The Active Horseman's Book of Emergency Care by Karen Hayes, DVM
This unusual book is designed to guide you through helping your horse when no vet is available. The author provides brisk, precise instructions for how to respond to a colic, founder, laceration, heat exhaustion, choke, eye injuries, sudden lameness, and more while you work on locating a professional. I keep it in my truck for reference when I'm far from veterinary help. Sadly, EMERGENCY is hard to find new, but you can still pick up a used copy for a song.
4. All Horse Systems Go: The Horse Owner's Full-Color Veterinary Care and Conditioning Resource for Modern Performance, Sport and Pleasure Horses by Nancy S. Loving, DVM
Note the author on this one. Yep, she's the same endurance-riding veterinarian who wrote Go the Distance. This book focuses on a wide spectrum of veterinary information, presented for the lay person, with an eye to the kinds of issues that matter most to distance competitors. The electronic copy is affordable, but I'd encourage you to track down a hard copy if you can. After the fire, I managed to get one on eBay for about $60. It's worth it for photos and easy reference.
5. The Horse's Mind by Lucy Rees
This book offers a fabulous treatment of equine psychology. The author covers everything from how the horse's sense organs function to why our equine partners behave as they do. My favorite section, "Horses and People," begins with a discussion of how horses perceive training. It's dense reading, but highly applicable to the ways we interact with our horses every day.
by Tamara Baysinger
I didn't go to any rides last year. I couldn't. I am going to tell you why.
My horse wasn't fit, because I wasn't fit to ride. There wasn't anything wrong with me, exactly, but everything was wrong around me.
After nearly 15 years of my career (the kind that earns a living, not my endurance career), I found myself the target of a campaign to make me go away. It was about politics. It was about money. It was about a special interest group that didn't want me doing the job I was hired to do.
Ugly doesn't cover it. Defamation ran rampant, culminating in accusations ranging from incompetence to illegal activity. Powerful people believed the story without checking the facts.
I had my friends, of course. People who knew the truth. But there's no stopping a runaway train.
It was't that I didn't ride. I did. I rode for hours. But my mare and I didn't condition. We walked.
Sometimes, I listened to music or a podcast. But mostly I just rode, shell-shocked, listening to the wind and feeling the sun and staring at a world that would never look the same.
A few years ago, I had a big, strong, fit horse. We were getting top-tens and BCs and completing hundreds. We had our eyes on Big Horn, then Tevis. Walking was not in our vocabulary. When forced by footing or slope to cool our heels, we did so with reluctance, gritting our teeth until we could fly again.
But last summer, I lacked the energy to trot, let alone compete. Slowly, mile by mile, month by month, I learned to let go of what should be and accept what is.
People don't always behave ethically. The truth doesn't always win. This isn't the movies, darlin', and sometimes the bad guys get their way.
Sometimes, walking is enough.
At Christmastime, I walked away. From the job, the lies, the money, the strain. I spent January in Death Valley, walking some more. Through slot canyons. Across salt flats and painted hills. Through the stunning debris left by waters that used to roar and now have gone.
Then I came home. And saddled my horse.
We trotted today, but it's early season and she hasn't done a 50 since late 2017. So we also walked. Down the hills, through the sand, up the steepest climbs. The wind sang. The sun embraced. And walking felt every bit as right as speed.
There's a saying that sticks in my head, repeating itself on a loop I need to hear: Light in the leg, soft in the hands; ride the horse and not your plans.
It's not just about horses, is it?
It's about life.
The Sweaty Equestrian