Annahi #TwoHearts

And it doesn't even have to be at the Olympics.

It could be at your local "grassroots" show. Or not at a show. It can happen in your riding ring, on the trails, or during ground work.

Describing the sentiment behind the FEI's #TwoHearts hashtag to the non-horsey set can sometimes be a difficult proposition. After all, it's just a horse. And realistically, it's only doing what it's being told to do - like your phone, it's programmable and robotic.

Right?

Not likely.

After you've ridden for a while, you'd probably have many #TwoHearts moments to cherish. For me, it was down center line, with my own mare, at a dressage show.

We'd been showing for a while - at least a year or more and beginning to be comfortable enough to really enjoy the experience. We were finally getting into the swing of things. I had developed a comfortable routine that made the logistics of preparing for and getting to the show effortless and extremely efficient.

My mare Annahi, too, was getting into the groove. She walked off the trailer, headed calmly through the unfamiliar show grounds, checked out the various horses, and settled into the grooming/tacking/warm up session before our scheduled show time. Then it was our turn to go into the ring.

It's one of those feelings I'll never forget.

They say that horses are trained to do as they are told, that they are forced to be ridden and perform - and given a choice, they'd rather not, period. Maybe there are some horses like that, I don't know.

But if you ever had a chance to be a partner to a 1000 pound horse that told you with every fiber of her being that she was MADE to go down that center line, you might change your mind. I sure did.

In dressage, it's a bit different because unlike most other disciplines, you are in the ring.

All.

Alone.

Everyone's eyes are on you. The judge is watching. You notice the scribe who sits beside the judge and gives you a smile on your first pass, before the judge rings the bell. If you're not used to having everyone's attention, it can be somewhat intimidating.

Well, maybe not everyone is watching. There will be people outside of the ring walking, talking, and not even noticing you at all. Sometimes they can unnerve you in a different way - distract your horse, take you out of your mental bubble.

And so as we entered down center line, I was unprepared for what was about to happen. I was busy trying to maintain my composure, thinking a little ahead to where I was turning after the salute, and basically trying my best to not interfere but also stay active enough to keep Annahi in a strong and true rhythm to the halt.

Ananhi did something I hadn't felt before.

She grew.

At least two inches. Her withers came up, her stride strengthened, and we bounded down that center line like we were born for that moment.

Like Annahi was telling me, "You just hang on and look pretty. I GOT THIS."

The perky ears, the awesome expression, the bounce in her stride, the sudden power - she was telling everyone at that show: "Watch me."

At first, I didn't know what to do with that attitude. I'm not shy but so far, I hadn't been excessively bold during the entrance. We halted, I saluted, and we skipped into that first trot like we were the only thing that mattered that day.

I figured I'd better step up and match my horse's 'tude - hang on and look pretty, right?

Sure enough, everyone stopped what they were doing and watched. I thought I could see heads turn as we cruised into the first movement. We certainly had the judge's attention, and we were off in a flurry of spirited energy.

I don't remember what our score was at the end, or how we did specifically, but I do know I was really happy with the ride. More important than anything else was that feeling of joy and exuberance that wasn't mine. It was Annahi's.

I have to say that there is nothing more confidence-building than a horse that likes to be a show diva. That first time was amazing, but Annahi was like that for the balance of her show career. She loved being in the ring, getting everyone's attention, and strutting her stuff.

Thanks to her, I became the rider that went down center line thinking, "Watch us!" and acting like it was the best time of our lives. Well, it was. There really wasn't any way I could discourage her attitude and instead, I emulated it.

So when I first saw #TwoHearts, I instantly remembered that moment. Riding really is about two hearts, and the constant communication you have with your horse. While we tend to think it's always about us, the horse certainly has a whole lot to say in the matter. If we can learn to listen, we can learn so much about ourselves - and the partnership that is horse riding.

 

 

Do you have a #TwoHearts moment to share? Post in the comments below.

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