Today started out balmy with breaks of sun. Knowing what was coming, I got out and rode my horses and client horses early, before the rain.
After the rain, a cold, raw wind began to blow and with it, a real sense that Fall is not just on its way, it's here and it's camping out in our yard.
But it's all good, because that gives me the go ahead to crank up the oven and bake some oatmeal molasses cookies, the sweet introduction that has become a ritual to make every Fall.
It's all about perspective, right?
I'll be honest - I didn't want to write the prior blog post, because our elimination at King Oak insinuated failure, because we didn't complete the event. I've only been eliminated a handful of times, and each time it's been a lesson learned. This was no different - I learned that Zeus needs to become so bored with water that he practically rolls his eyes when I point him at a puddle or stream to cross.
My mom made the most poignant remark when we were packing up the truck and trailer to head home from King Oak. She said, "Well, at least you are walking away from here, instead of being carried off in an ambulance."
So true. My last venture to King Oak was 12 years ago, and it was at that fall event that my arm was crushed and thus ended my eventing career for more than a decade. I left King Oak that day in an ambulance, with my Mom in the front seat, and our fantastic dog Scruffy sitting between she and the EMT who was driving.
(Funny side note: We got to the hospital, and Mom walked in the ER with Scruffy. The attending nurse took one look at Scruffy, then my mom and said dryly, "She's a seeing eye dog, is that right?" Mom said, "Oh, yup, sure she is, wink wink!" Scruffy was admitted into the ER and then allowed to lay at my feet. That was before some poor nurse came in with a washcloth before giving me any pain meds and attempted to scrub out the pieces of dirt, rocks and even links of my watch that were embedded in my arm. I'm pretty sure that nurse quit.)
Long story short, there may be some snickers from the peanut gallery over an elimination - a so-called "failure" to some. However, that moment - that elimination - will only magnify the success that has yet to come. The important thing is that we're out there doing it, instead of standing on the sidelines critiquing others. When something doesn't exactly go the way we want it to, we go back to work, hone and perfect it, and come back to try again. There are no successes in life without failures to teach us to be better. To rise above it.
I remember all too well the first half of the cross country course, with Zeus flying over jumps he'd never seen before - trusting me implicitly to not steer him wrong. That is success. Jumping his second clear stadium round, at his second event. That is success. Relaxing enough in his dressage test so the judge can see the potential he has. That is success.
And most importantly, we left King Oak on our own steam, with a smile on our faces and hope for the future. That's a really great feeling.