The lack of horse showing has been upsetting for some people, and shows starting back up seem to be very popular — a few A shows in this area have “sold out,” meaning they are limiting entries and have already hit those limits for a few shows in mid-June. I completely understand that horse showing was and is a primary motivating force for riders, so it doesn’t surprise me that people are excited for showing to start back up. Even with major international tours canceling the rest of their dates, horse shows in the U.S. are pressing forward. Horse show ecosystems employ a lot of people and provide a fun social outlet for many, many riders. I am happy for all of those people whose lives will hopefully get back to “normal” or at least some kind of “new normal” very soon.
But horse shows don’t motivate me. Not at all. They may have at one time, but they don’t now and never really have in my adult life. So I’ve been thinking about what does motivate me, and whether I can even articulate this, or put some kind of label or name on the driving forces that get me to the barn almost every day. Strong emotional connections with animals calm me down on most days. Riding is good exercise. Being outdoors is a relief after a 9-hour slog at a desk. I am pretty sure even just looking at Eli lowers my blood pressure. (Unless he is sick or injured.) Cantering around over sticks is a fun thing. It looks like I have this laundry list of superficial motivations, but is that … it?
I am thinking the strong emotional connection to animals is the primary motivating force for me. I would much rather talk to my dog or my horse than a person. My big and small mammalian companions seem to get me, to accept me. Not that they really have a choice, of course. But early on with Eli especially I am fairly certain he wanted me to be his person. And the humans around us that saw us working together said all kinds of encouraging things a long these lines well before I owned him. I started worrying about his future if he didn’t have me in it. How can a horse make a person feel this way? Is it not odd? But what would a life without such empathetic creatures be?
I cannot remember a time when I did not feel an innate connection to animals. That I have had so many meaningful partnerships with horses continues to amaze me. Eli’s ability to communicate with me so clearly about all kinds of things amazes me, too. Secondary to the emotional connection I feel to this horse is perhaps the other motivating factor: what will Eli teach me next?