Thursday, May 3, 2018

kumbaya kentucky

These days I often feel a little overwhelmed by so much of the negativity around me. Usually in the constant news cycle of shocking revelation after shocking revelation. Or because of the ever present road rage during any commute. Or in the brusque rudeness or cold judgement of strangers.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg
It’s pervasive and it’s every day. There’s always some new outrage around the corner. Always something more to raise my hackles. And I’m exhausted by it.

Buck Davidson and Park Trader
People tease me for not being on most social media platforms, jokingly calling me a #cavetroll or #socialmedialessemma. But I promise there’s nothing virtuous or high minded in my avoidance of those platforms. It’s not because I think I’m somehow above that.

Lillian Heard and Share Option
Haha. No. I avoid social media bc the exact opposite is true. I’m about 99% sure I would be completely consumed by it. Obsessed with and gripped by the negativity. The drama. The needless unkindnesses masquerading as “blunt truth.”

Ellen Doughty-Hume and Sir Oberon
Arguments about alternative facts. Alternative realities. The whole zero sum perspective. You can’t be right bc that would mean that I’m wrong. Therefore you’re wrong.

Michael Jung and Fischerrocana FST
Intolerance everywhere. Everything decried as a disgrace. Blame games and name calling and general distrust. I get just as easily pulled into that cycle as anybody else. Feverishly clicking "refresh" to see the latest vitriol spewing forth. And meanwhile, Flint still doesn’t have clean water.

Michael Jung and Fischerrocana FST
Ya know. It’s a lot. It’s overwhelming. I don’t even know what I should do. How I can change. Or if it even matters. What possible difference can I make? 

Waylon Roberts and Kelecyn Cognac
I try to make conscious choices. Try to choose civility, choose positive thoughts or behaviors. But it's a slippery slope. Just when I'm patting myself on the back for some small act of kindness, I'm falling right back into some other trap. Cutting someone off in traffic. Saying something snarky when I should have just kept quiet. Casting judgement without any effort toward understanding. 

Sara Gumbiner and Polaris
It's a real drag.

Ashley Johnson and Tactical Maneuver 
I turn to horses as my release. As my escape. As a world that’s maybe a little simpler. Horses don’t lie. They’re not unkind. More often than not, they're a more honest and accurate reflection of my own self than basically any mirror. Certainly more honest than the latest insta filter. 

Ashley Johnson and Tactical Maneuver
And I can't fall into my negativity traps with the horses. I can't cross my arms and look at them sideways, silently judging or questioning their motives. They're just.... horses. I've got to meet them where they are, and leave my own baggage at the door.

Holly Jacks Smither and More Inspiration
Which, ya know, may be why they're so cathartic and therapeutic to so many of us. That act of letting go of the baggage and just focusing on the Now. No other activity leaves me as refreshed as spending time with horses.

Buck Davidson and Carlevo
But the horse community is nothing if not just a smaller microcosm of the larger world. Prone to the same cycles as any other population. And there are bad actors everywhere. People who make dubious choices for unethical reasons. Or worse. 

Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus
Nobody would ever argue that the horse world doesn't have its own brand of partisanship. Whether that's in any one group's adherence to a certain style of horsemanship, or equipment, or discipline. Or whether it's in groups who see clearly in black and white where others see gray. 

Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality
And that's cool, right? That's one of the many reasons why horses are so special. There are literally infinitely many ways to enjoy them. They're not one size fits all - basically any person with the drive and desire can find a way to enjoy horses within their own parameters. 

Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie
While many of us (myself included) might like to think we've got all the answers, or that our way is the best way.... Well. Realistically there are very, very few ways to enjoy horses incorrectly. And those all basically boil down to safety and welfare, of horse or rider. 

Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality
If you and your horse are healthy and happy, go forth! Have fun! Be merry! May green pastures always await you!

If one or both of you struggle with health and/or happiness? May god help you if you turn to the internet for help. Jk.... Sorta.
Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality
That's not really the point tho, right? I mean, I'm not entirely sure what *is* the point here. Other than: in my horsey endeavors, ultimately what I'm seeking is happiness. Relief from external negativity. Joy in its simplest form. 

Bad things happen around all of us. People make poor choices. Avoidable but costly accidents happen, sometimes to tragic ends. Good people get the short end of the stick and bad people win. And it sucks. It's easy to become disillusioned or cynical. To get a bad taste in our mouths watching the drama unfold. Or worse, to be drawn in ourselves to continue the cycle.

Christopher Burton and Nobilis 18
One thing is for certain tho. It's up to me to control how much I let that negativity affect my own enjoyment in horses and horse sports. 

And at this moment in my life? Well. I'm finally living my best horsey life. I have horses in my life today in a way that I couldn't even dream of as a 12yo girl. It makes me happy. Every day.

Elisa Wallace and Simply Priceless
Going to Kentucky this past weekend was the perfect encapsulation of that feeling. I went with a great group, all of whom are also really enjoying their horsey lives - and each in slightly different forms. 

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights
Plus, obviously the rush and thrill of seeing my idols cruising around these gigantic and unfathomable obstacles, with horses who look for all the world like they're doing it for fun?? So so so inspiring. Gives me chills! 

And getting to enjoy all that with a great group of friends? Well. For me, that's what made this Kentucky trip so special for me. That's the stuff memories are made of, and I have memories (some of which had to be recounted back to me bc #tailgating haha) that will last a lifetime. 

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous
I might never ride around Kentucky myself. And I might not personally admire every single soul who does so, or believe it's worth getting there at any cost. But it kinda bums me out that such an overwhelmingly positive event and experience can be overshadowed by a news cycle dominated yet again by what went wrong at the event. 

full compilation of all the highlights here! plus stadium, which includes clips from (in order of appearance): Philip Dutton and I'm Sew Ready; Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg; Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous; and Michael Jung

That's the way it seems to go these days tho, I guess. All the same, I had a blast and can't wait to go back. And wholeheartedly encourage anybody else who loves horses and this great sport of eventing to go too. If for nothing else than the shopping haha, more to come on that later! ;)


  1. I have zero internet presence! And I like it that way. When Facebook first became a *thing* I was working in a job that said "oh hell no, you can't do that". So I never did. Switched jobs, but still never felt the urge to sign up. Still don't regret it.

    In regards to the incident you're referring to in KY, I don't know or like/dislike the person in question. But I do feel like it's becoming a witch hunt. If we are truly going to raise the issue as horse safety, EVERY horse with an issue needs to be all over the internet. Not just the one we love to hate. Because honestly, she took the right steps and was cleared by the vet. If I had worked to get to KY and the vet said you're good, you can bet I'd ride, too.

  2. I've never gotten the chance to go see K3DE in person yet, but I'm definitely hoping to go in the next few years. It is so saddening to me to see all the negativity surrounding it this year, instead of people being able to enjoy a wonderful event.

  3. That is definitely why I love horses so much as well. There is so much peace and joy to be found with them. I had so much fun when I went to Kentucky last year that I can't wait to go again. It was certainly awe-inspiring to watch these people riding around like it was another day at the office. Such a fun atmosphere. So glad you had a blast tho! Going with friends is the best :)

  4. Amen! I have social media, but it's to keep in touch with far away friends/family. Sometimes I will "like" a political post, but for the most part, I stay away from stuff like that for the same reasons as you. Too easy to get caught up.

    I just love Kentucky. This was my second year going and it was just as wonderful as last year. I usually am not one for going to large public gatherings, but it's so different there. Pretty much everyone you talk to is just there because they love horses. Best crowd to be a part of!

  5. That pic you have of Lillian Heard makes me so happy! I knew her back when she was a teenager - we both boarded at the same barn when I lived in Maryland. I'm glad to see that she's made her dreams come true. :)

  6. Rolex, Rover, whatever - seriously is so much fun! Also agree that horses are one of the few things that I know help me be present and refreshed, as you said. I get why you're not on social media; for a while I got totally looped in to the political stuff but mostly in a 'have to learn and keep up with everything' kind of way. I've had to step back for my own health tbh, but it's made me so much more aware.

    I've also been learning a lot about systems thinking ( ) which basically just gives tools to help make a little more sense of things, ranging from family dynamics to horses, emotions to education and basically anything else. You were already essentially applying it to the case with the one rider, who I've also got no feeling toward either way. it's not as simple as 'evil person --> purposely abusing horse to win', but it’s equally not only ‘ambiguous rules —> protect this person’. There’s a whole lot of things influencing each other at once, which to me means it’s important to hold success and challenges for the whole weekend at equal importance. Too much emphasis either way and you either are in denial (and the challenges get harder) or beleaguered (and the successes don’t stick). Sorry, train stopped haha!

  7. This was a post I really needed to read to get my head back in the game. I know I got a little wrapped up in the negativity (though I do think she made the right steps this time but unfortunately bc of her history people already had their pitchforks sharpened and ready to blame her for everything) I’m not defending her in anyway but I don’t think people are willing to give her any benefit of the doubt anymore. (Which is sad for human nature) Honestly I could type more about internet troll ness but feel it sort of defeats the kumbaya vibe your post gives so I’m going to stop and just say thanks for this post. It’s nice to get a positive reality check :) A colorful world is a much more interesting place to be than living in a black or white society.

  8. I truly enjoy the message of this post - go forth! Enjoy!

  9. PREACH sister. Agree with you on all points.

  10. As you said the only thing we can change is ourselves, how we react to things (or sometimes not reacting to things) and how much we let that thing effect is. It's why I stopped reading certain blogs, blocked certain people on facebook, unsubscribed from certain feeds and definitely think twice before I comment or hit send. (well ok maybe not always before i hit send since I have more autocorrect blunders than I care to admit - but its something I'm being mindful of). Mindfullness as a concept has changed me a lot since my first introduction to it in 2012. It's a continuous process right, like everything but its one of the steps to deeper self care and ultimately - I believe - sanity in an insane world.

  11. I'm inherently a negative person. I can and do make a lot of drama all on my own so I hardly need the outside contribution. I stopped listening to or reading the news after the last election. It's helped. I haven't given up social media yet though I do frequently think of doing so. I try to just skip/skim past the things that'll upset me though it doesn't always work.

  12. In my whole life I have always tried to stand up when I think things are 'wrong'. That has led to some bad decisions, however well intended. I try now to not engage but I struggle when things are blatant lies. I don't care that someone disagrees with me but I hate when they promote untruths. So maybe I haven't learned all that much. I try to make my FB feed pretty innocuous.

  13. Every so often I get suckered into the whole latest drama-fueled fire - more often than not it is something to do with animal welfare. I do try to skip past these things now, because a lot of the time bitching and moaning on Facebook isn't going to do anything for anyone. I like this post - I like that you try to stay positive in the face of adversity and I love how positive you are with your friends <3

  14. So much truth. And so many great pictures. Its tough not to get bogged down by life. I applaud you for getting a great horsey relief and enjoying it for what it was. Loved this post

  15. One of the best quotes I’ve read in a long time came from the Maine police department of all places and was “if you’re not doing you’re just spewing”. Ranting on social media helps nobody. Action does and so I generally stay very quiet and “vote” with my money instead. I’m glad your weekend was rejuvenating and horses fill the same role in my life as well.

  16. This is so incredibly true and I agree. Sometimes I feel like I am not "doing enough" when I keep quiet about certain issues in life, because I have always been an outspoken person who doesn't mind voicing my opinions even if I am in the minority. But, man, the past few years have been rough in a lot of ways and I have just withdrawn from all that because I just can't handle the drama of being outspoken any longer. I deliberately keep my Facebook and Instagram upbeat (not fake, just benign). Maybe it is because I am approaching 40 and just don't give a damn about it all any longer. Maybe it is something else. Maybe all the above. But I find focusing on my family and my horses and a few true friends and blocking out the noise and barrage of negativity makes everything more positive and for that I am grateful. <3

  17. Great post. While I do use social media in that I have a FB and Instagram, I hardly ever post anything more than pictures of my pony. The occasional thank you to my hubby. I just don't participate in any of the drama. That does not mean I don't read some of it, but not as much as most people I know. I have way too much in my life to keep me busy. And you are right about the negativity of everything. I don't even really watch the news anymore (except the weather).


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