4G Horses?

We live in a fast food, high speed, get it immediately, microwaved, 4G, instant kind of a world. Patience is virtually nonexistent. We’ve been programmed and conditioned not to wait. For anything. Ever. We now carry our lives with us via our ever improving, constantly updating cell phones.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m as attached to my cell phone as anyone. I carry all my photos, passwords, contacts, calendars, you name it, within arms reach at all times. Want to see a picture of my son? Here’s my phone. Need a phone number for the restaurant where I work? Here’s my phone. Can’t remember Mimi’s birthday? Here’s my phone.

How about a closing date? Let me just whip out my phone and check the USEA website. Scroll a few blogs down on this website, and there’s a post about live streaming of the cross country at Burghley.

Technology and the ease that comes with it are great. Cell phones are great. So is fast food. I LOVE the ability to drive through my favorite burger joint and pick up a quick meal when I don’t have the time to cook or grocery shop. I do! But should everything be that instant? Shouldn’t the best things still come to those who wait? Whatever happened to just savoring the moment?

I have been thinking about this idea a lot lately, especially where horses are concerned. I’m as driven and Type-A as they come. I have big goals, big dreams and I WANT IT NOW! But is that the best way? More and more I’m convinced that it is not. Developing a horse takes time; honing the skills to become a good rider with good equitation takes time; good, proper horsemanship takes time; and moving through the levels takes time. Or at least it should.

There seems to be a trend among a lot of riders today to get a young horse and move it up as quickly as possible. I’m not just talking about the professionals. I see it in young riders too, who may ride in one or two Beginner Novice or Novice events, and then it’s on to Training level without stopping to take the time to develop the proper skill set to be successful, or more importantly SAFE, at the upper levels.

Riding horses can be dangerous. Eventing can be dangerous. Even the most bombproof horse has its moments. We get hurt when we rush, so I wonder why we’re in such a hurry.

Riding as a child, I had old school instructors who would not allow you to jump until your equitation on the flat was correct. I wasn’t allowed to compete until I was schooling 3-foot fences at home. I cleaned my tack every day; I groomed my horse until he gleamed; I read books and magazines and studied. All of these things took time. Lots of time. And yes, I know, we live in a different time, in a different world. My question is if that world is a better one.

As an adult I have had two surgeries, one riding-related, one not riding-related. Each surgery had a major effect on my riding. Both surgeries caused me to slow down, way down. Perhaps because of fear issues with the surgery that followed a riding accident, I slowed down too much.  Perhaps I would already be riding in the upper levels if I had moved faster. Perhaps.

However, horses are these amazing, beautiful, trusting creatures who run and jump and collect for us. They stand in stalls when they’d rather be grazing; they ride in metal boxes they can’t see out of for hours at a time; and still they perform for us and act as our therapists.

Don’t you think they deserve our time? However long it takes? Instant might be faster, but in the end it’s not always better. With everything else in my life being so immediate, I enjoy the slower journey with my horse. It helps me to breathe and reminds me of who I am. We don’t just owe it to our horses; we owe it to ourselves.

Ferris Bueller had it right: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”