Slightly pin-eared, tail swishing around, pushy Canadian cattle shoving us back into the herd, but we're still out here doing the damn thing. Photo Credit: Roughstock Studio
Cutting, it's the variables that get ya and make you question why we do this insanely expensive sport. Those variable that weasel into your brain and tap dance around in that category labelled "mental toughness." From questioning your physical and mental capacities, to questioning your horses abilities and cow smarts. From questioning your trainer's coaching skills and horse training, to your tack choices that day. From questioning whether your turn back guys were helping you, to whether your corner guy said "headlight" or "mott". From questioning whether or not Saturn is descending, or whether or not Earth is on the right or left axis today... cutting brings up so, so many questions to those of us that are mentally feeble and a little weak-hearted at times. No judgement ya'll, been there, done that, kept the playbill and framed it on my wall. I mean it and i've lost a lot of trust in the process over the years. I can only talk from personal experience but i've had enough road bumps and enough moments of clarity, that I can tell you, you just have to keep at it. When I had to come home from interning in the states, I wondered if I had just gone down a path for two years that was simply wasted time and then, my three year old ended up being shipped up from the states on a trailer. When I lost that horse, six days after hitting Canadian soil, I kind of just packed it in, I mean that was some serious fricken' heartbreak. You bundle up hopes, dreams and expectations and you find it dead in a turnout pen, that's something that stops you in your tracks. Yet through a series of fortuitous events I ended up where I needed to be again with a new horse who I adored and in the show pen consistently for the first time. I had someone really, truly helping me in my corner, letting me wreck a bunch of fresh cattle in the process and rooting for me on a horse that wasn't exactly chalk full of try. I suddenly realized that showing consistently wasn't all it was cracked up to be, and i've blogged about that a ton so if you really want to hear about my motto of #SixtiesAndTears, go back into the archives. I took a step back, a heavy breather if you will and bred her. Then I lost her and I lost the baby. Then, as if lightning could hit three times in a row, the insurance didn't come through, I lost it all. A few years ago, I would have called it a curse, I would have readied the suitcase and bought the ticket out of cuttings-ville but because of all those mis-steps and hurdle-jumps earlier on in the game, I had this nagging feeling that it was all going to be okay. That, somehow, good things always seemed to have sprung from the bad that I've experienced in my lifetime, specifically when it came to horses. Was there moments I wanted to curl up and say I was done, that I was cursed? Heck yeah. But, you know, a lot of people go through a lot worse things than I have, and all the while here was this voice telling me that I just needed to trust in the process. So I did. You know what, that process led me to some significantly special people in my life, who allowed me to get on a horse that I would have never picked out of a group. That gave me a horse to show when I don't own him. That told me I could do it. Say what you want about that whirling around little pony that acts like a damn two year old in the lope pen, but he's going to stop a cow for me, and if my head's in the game, we're going to do alright. Here we are five shows in, three cheques won, one crying hole due to pilot errors and one no-good-sorry-sucker of a cow that no one would have held. I mean, it's the process, because, I would have laughed had you told me this is where the story was heading for chapter four. I wouldn't have believed you. So, as always, the preaching from my personal soapbox continues. Show season is upon us, for those of you in warmer climates, you're in the thick of it, for those of us on the northern range, we've embarked down the road, and no matter how far down the road you are sometimes shit will get rocky. You have to trust your instinct, you gotta trust yourself, and you damn well need to trust your horse [and that stop!!] or you will get run over in the show pen and in life too. The process can be brutally debilitating at times. I always tell this story of a client we once had that went from a horse who seemingly could do nothing but win. When the horse was retired, the client switched to a different style of horse and the pair had hell figuring each other out. Imagine going from multiple finals, cheques every show, to not being able to even ride one? I mean, for all you 2,000 Limit Riders just trying to figure it out, me included, you don't even know a crushed ego until you've been in that situation.That's why cutting is the great equalizer, the greatest ego trip you'll ever go down, you will never stay on top forever, it comes and goes like waves, but mark my damn words, you're never going to stay down either, I promise you. That's how waves work, they roll in, they roll out. If you are down right now, it won't last. We are so fricken' unbelievably lucky to ride these amazing horses, don't forget it, even when it sucks and you're crying in front of your turn back help, and your back account is flashing "ABORT ABORT ABORT" and you need six bottles of wine to make yourself feel better. Trust in the process. I believe in you. Believe in yourself and believe in your damn unicorn too.