Failure

HELGA

I must fail if I want to succeed. And fail, I have.

Lotus Media once again impressed me by how quickly I had .mp4 files of old VHS-C tapes. I know the next two tapes I sent got to the company on Friday. I had files on Saturday. And again, I was happily surprised by content I had no idea existed. I will share bits and pieces of my own horses this week, but today is about a horse I “borrowed” one summer (I think?) while one of my horses was sidelined with anhydrosis.

Helga was a warmblood mare and for sale. I don’t know what her price was and I had zero intention of buying another horse, but I think we got paired up because maybe I would “amateurize” her a little. She could seem hot but truly wasn’t. She WOULD NOT if you wore a spur. She stopped a crap ton. We were not well-suited to each other, but she taught me a lot. Mostly about not getting frustrated and not giving up. I had to do a ton of emotionless riding on that mare.

As it happens, a very memorable lesson was on one of the tapes — a lesson on Helga. I hadn’t thought about this lesson in ages, and looking back I think I might have barfed after I dismounted, but the takeaway now for me is that every horse has a ride, and not all rides are the same. If I ever tried to ride Eli like I had to ride Helga, I might be dead. If I had ridden Helga like I ride Eli, she probably would have looked like and old, overgrown lesson pony shuffling along at a bare minimum of speed. You can even hear me at one point in the video bristling against the kind of ride the mare wanted, “I feel like I’m hanging on her face!”

I failed a countless and indeterminate number of times in this one lesson. So here’s the entirety of what was on the tape — no sugar-coating here. Jumping starts at 3:53.

Lesson with Steve from patentlybay on Vimeo.

Honestly, I want to barf just watching that. I deeply appreciate the opportunity to ride Helga, don’t get me wrong. And of course I learned so much from that trainer. But perhaps the most important lesson I learned from Helga, beyond the failure and beyond the ride, was that I LOVE THOROUGHBRED GELDINGS. I am not sure I would ever own anything else at this point. (Maybe a Trakehner. …)

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