Over the hill or still climbing?

Posted by Sharon Labels:

“Congratulations on your retirement,” were the first words out the man's mouth when I answered the knock on the my door.

Retired? Not that I knew . . . and I didn’t even like the sound of it.

I had not seen Dave in many years and it was by pure chance that he stood at my door now. I was pretty surprised to see him and even more that he should think I was retired. I decided he had heard I had quit competing and, with a weak protest, left it at that. After he left, though, I thought about what he had said and why it was such a shock that he should think I was retired. When I decided to end my reining career (at least in the pen), I never once thought of it as retirement. Although I believed that I was ready to quit hauling to reining shows, I did not believe that I was ready to “retire”, at least not in my sense of the word. I am not “over the hill” yet.

I have been climbing that hill all my life, especially in the horse training world. From the time I was a child, I strived to be better. I knew I could improve all facets of my life and I embraced the challenges. I liked to learn, so learning became part of life. I don’t want that to change. I may not compete again but I will still ride, still train my horses, still reach for that goal that may always be just out of reach – to train the perfect horse to the highest level possible with the least effort. That means I will still study my breeding program and breed for better Quarter Horses every year. I will still ride some of those horses and critique my training methods, study others and always, always strive to do a better job. That being said, I am training my own horses in my riding arena every day. I have a two-year-old in training and I'm fine-tuning maneuvers on my four-year-old stallion. As I said, I like to learn so I am dabbling in something a little different. I heard about a new, mostly-exhibition event called Cowboy/Western Dressage and Walking With Wolves is my guinea pig for that - reining horse turned dressage. I don't pretend to know anything about dressage but I can learn - right? Here is a video of Little Wolf's first efforts (combined with reining maneuvers).

September 2011 - a great stop on Walking With Wolves in my arena.

Besides my horse business, I intend to pursue my “hobby” – creative writing. That’s what this blog is about – to keep the juices flowing. I have lots to learn and, like horse training, will never know it all!

As far as retirement goes, it doesn't feel much like I am retired. Looking after my  herd of horses, training them, hauling hay, fixing fence, putting in posts, cleaning pens and generally maintaining my property is more like WORK. Retirement may never happen. Over the hill? No. I may be approaching the top, but I prefer to think I am still climbing...

Phenomenal Family

Posted by Sharon Labels: , , ,

"Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one." Jane Howard

This quote really says it all... and it hit me squarely in the heart this past week. Living where I do, far away from family, I don't connect in person very often. Mostly I'm okay with that. I'm used to it, I suppose, and comfortable with my own company. But, last week, my brother and his wife visited me - all the way from Saskatchewan. It had been eight years since we had seen each other. I didn't know how much I had missed them until they were here . . . and gone.

Harold and Linda stayed four full days and we made the best of it, packing in a couple of tours of the Chilcotin, a ride around my property, a barbecue with my friends and plenty of eating and visiting. Since Harold owns the ranch I grew up on, much of the conversation was of the Diamond Dot. I can't remember when I have had such a good time.

The weather cooperated beautifully for copious photos of our many adventures. My favourite memory of their visit is riding together the first day they were here. I rode my two-year-old, Mistral, and Harold and Linda rode Legacy and Whisper (both in foal).

Harold and Linda on Legacy and Whisper above the Chilcotin River
Harold and I on Legacy and Mistral crossing a channel of the Chilcotin
Here, for comparison is a photo of Harold and I on the backs of horses about 60 years ago. Some things don't change!
Harold and I on Trixie and Pronto

"We need to take a road trip somewhere," I announced to Harold on the morning of the second day of their visit. We had already decided to visit Gang Ranch the next day so, after short deliberation, I chose Nemaiah Valley and Chilko Lake for our destination. We packed a lunch and headed out.
Harold and I by the Taseko River
Nemaiah Valley
Harold, Linda and Bandit - lunch at Konni Lake
The next day, we again packed a lunch and headed out for Gang Ranch.

Harold and Linda on the Gang
...and drove home via Farwell Canyon. Love this photo of Harold and I - we look so relaxed!
And so, like most things in life, the visit had to end. I was alone with the reminder of what it means to have a family around. I've always known my life was not perfect (living alone with no family close) but now I wondering if I might someday be able to make it more so... As the quote at the beginning of this blog says about family, ". . . you need one." And, as my title states, "Family is phenomenal!"