Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Giving and Getting

I have been in school for what seems to be decades, but truly full time since 2006. At 42 years old, I can finally say that I have graduated for the last time. In December, I earned a master’s degree in English. I equate the experience to getting braces at 29 - while pregnant. I didn’t necessarily enjoy it, but I’m overjoyed with the results. But with everything in life, to get something you have to give up something in return. It has only been a matter of weeks and I’m still trying to catch up on all that was neglected while my life was on hold. And, I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I didn’t wonder from time to time if it was worth it – the exchange with what I had to give up. My husband and my kids really missed me. I couldn’t have done it without their support, because they also had to sacrifice.

I also gave up precious time with my horses. Since the horses live at home with me I saw them every day, fed them, tossed them apples and carrots all the while telling them my obligation would soon be over. In reality, I think I was trying to convince myself to hang in there more than to ask their understanding. My thoroughbred gelding, Tristan, was fine with it. He is happy hanging out in the pasture and when I’m ready, he’s ready.

My quarter horse, Chicklet, is another story. She gets bored easily and has far too little patience. To sum her up, she absolutely hates to be treated like a horse – if that makes any sense at all. It’s like playing chess. I need to be three steps ahead of her and make sure there’s something in it for her too. If it’s all work, she’ll rebel. If it’s too much or she’s overwhelmed, she’ll rebel. If she’s just being a mare…you know…ride the gelding instead. It can’t all be about what I want or what I had planned that day. We both have to be getting something out of it. (Sound like any other relationships you might have?)

I have to put a lot of effort, both mentally and physically working with her, but the reward is far greater somehow than when I work with my thoroughbred. She challenges me in ways that he doesn’t. It is hard to imagine that I once almost sold her. We fought all of the time and it wasn’t an enjoyable relationship. I was beyond frustrated, tired and confused, but I couldn’t bring myself to sell her. Luckily, I discovered natural horsemanship and our entire relationship changed, almost overnight. She responded so fast to our new style of communication that I thought she was breaking into the house at night to watch the next Parelli DVD's just to “show me up” the next day. Imagine if I'd have given up? We would have both missed out. It was truly magic as our relationship blossomed. I discovered how alike we are. We are both impatient, we like to be challenged, we hate to be bored and we hate to have our time wasted. But more than anything, we like to stand outside at night, her head over my shoulder and gaze at the stars. That’s almost the best part of our relationship, when we don’t have to say, or do, anything.

Just like education or any other struggle we are faced with, we get what we put into it. It might not be fun along the way, but in the end, if we’ve truly done all that we can we will be rewarded. I couldn’t imagine my life without my family, my education, or my Chicklet. But, I had to earn them all. And I don’t think I need to tell anyone how much work we need to put into the things that matter most to us in life!


Linda Benson said...

Verna - Congratulations on finishing your masters. That's a huge accomplishment, and you are probably still decompressing, huh?

I'm glad you finally found a way to get into your mare's head and get along with her. Some horses are hard to figure out, and I'm glad you didn't give up on her. It sounds like she was worth the challenge.

Nice to have you posting with us. I look forward to reading more.

Dreaming said...

Congratulations on earning your Master's. I love your comparison to the braces/pregnancy at 29!
It is all worth it.

Francesca Prescott said...

Verna: how impressive! Major congratulations on earning your masters, I don't know if I'd have the courage to put in all that effort. Your family must be so proud of you!

Also, I really enjoyed reading about your complicated relationship with your mare. She sounds like quite a little Madam!!

Lovely to have you here with us. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

Laura Crum said...

Greetings, Verna. I enjoyed reading your post and will look forward to seeing how it works out with Chicklet in the future. Glad to have you with us.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Congratulations! That must feel good to have finished your Masters. WOW!

Why We Ride said...

Thanks for the congratulations. Yes, it does feel wonderful to be done with school and to have a MA degree. In addition to opening a whole new set of doors for me, I believe it also sets a good example for my kids.

Alison said...

Verna,I know I am reading your post late (i missed it somehow) so I hope you will read this and answer my questions:
1) what do you hope to accomplish with your Masters degree? Do you feel it helped at all with your writing?

2) Please do a blog on one or two things you changed that you feel made the most difference in your relationship with Chiclet.