One day in the middle of my first winter living here in the snow in Taos, I somehow got wind of a contest put on by a Horse Rescue in Santa Fe. It's called the Trainers Rally for Rescues, and the description on their website immediately caught my eye. It's a program they've run for 7 years now where professional horse trainers volunteer their time and talents to take a rescue horse into training for 100 days. At the end of July, the Shelter puts on a public showcase at the Santa Fe Rodeo Grounds, where over two days the horses are judged on
their preparedness for adoption and whether they show a solid foundation of training. Following the Showcase, there is an adoption-based auction of the participating horses.
In all my years of training, I have NEVER heard of such a fabulous program as this! What a win/win....the rescue horses get a solid foundation and a good start, the Shelter has a pipeline for moving these horses into good homes, the trainers get a way to refine their skills and be of service, and folks looking for a horse are able to support a good cause and get themselves a well started animal. I knew immediately that I must participate!
So I filled out the application, got my letters of reference sent off, and waited. In all honesty, the longer I waited, the more fearful I became that I wasn't going to get picked. What the hell is that all about?! Likely it was my ego protecting myself from being rejected. New territory here, putting myself out there in a way I'd never done before. Even now, I'm stretching myself writing this, feeling very vulnerable, again feeling like those who might read it will judge me. But this is the place where I know I grow, and getting vulnerable and sharing my truth is really what my life is all about these days. So, spoiler alert: I got picked!
You see, I'd been blessed as a Hunter/Jumper trainer in California to have had a relatively easy time garnering business. I had a great mentor (thanks Penny!) who allowed me to hang up my shingle at her stable when I was right out of college. For nearly a decade, my alliance with her and education from her cultivated my competence and reputation in our county in a way I could never have done myself. From then on, for the next 20 years, I had a business whose reputation preceded itself, where clients were attracted to me and I rarely had to do much to create new business.
But this! Training a rescue horse?! What a new paradigm this was, in a new area where I didn't know anybody. My 'stature' in the hunter/jumper community would get me nowhere here. Penny and I had started colts, but that was when I was in my 20's...I was fearless then and I had her help. I'm 50 now, and as we trainers say, at this age when we fall off, we tend to break rather than bounce! I'd watched my dad start colts, but that was a long, long time ago and his methods were rough and draconian. During the past decade, I've become a devotee of Buck Brannaman, whose methods are antithetical to those I'd been been practicing most of my life. Could I do it? Could I let go of the past and have the courage to practice diligently and truly devote myself this new way of being?
When the phone call came that I'd gotten accepted, I was shaking with joy and excitement. The fact that I loved the mission of the #100daystrainingchallenge so much gave me the boost I needed to put my doubts aside and jump in with both feet. Throughout my entire life, this is a gift the horses have always given me. With them, every day is a new day. To be a horseperson is to be flexible, as they are animals and do not subscribe to time, or agenda, or ego in the same way we humans do. What a wonderful gift this has been, and continues to be for me. The horses stretch me in all the right ways, and I am so very grateful to have this opportunity for the next 100 days! Can't wait to see what me and Kaylee can do together!