Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Adrenaline junkies?

So Friday Sunday night I was giving my husband the blow-by-blow ride story over IM, and I'm all "and she lost her everloving mind at the start and was cantering in place and thinking about bucking." And can you believe it? He called me an adrenaline junkie!

I've been thinking about it, and he's half right. I think most horse people are, or were, kind of adrenaline junkies - or at least I am. But if I just wanted the holy-shit-I-almost-died thrill, I'd have a mountain bike or a motorcycle. The thing that makes horses so addictively seductively fun is the combination of crazy almost out of control power plus willing cooperation from the horse.

The best feeling in endurance is when you crawl back on to your horse for the last loop and you've still got a lot of horse left. I think everybody who rides knows what I mean when I say it's a huge rush to have a lot of horse - it's canter pirouttes, it's slingshotting around the third barrel and going full speed for the gate, it's letting the horse spin on its hocks to gallop after that cow, it's going hell-for-leather at a coop chasing a pack of dogs. It's fucking outstanding and terrifying all at once.

When it goes wrong - usually when the bucking or the bolting starts - it's just no fun at all. But what's gone wrong isn't the speed or even the moves. It's the feeling that you're just a passenger on a roller coaster that's gone off the rails.

Yall, I hate bullshit stereotypes like "women like pretty flowers and men like tools!" I try very hard to not talk that way, think that way, or pass on that kind of thinking. (And you know how much I like tools. Did I tell you I have a router?!) But the fact of the matter is that most equestrians in America (in developed countries?) are women. Why do we overwhelmingly love horses? I think it's because we get the thrill AND the partnership. We're not dominating the course - we're dominating the course with our partners. When it's going right, we've got a half ton of amazing athlete cooperating with us, willingly taking us along on an amazing ride we can't duplicate any other way.

I don't think it's good that most equestrians are women (or bad, for that matter.) But I do think that's why we're equestrians instead of mountain bikers. Solo sports are person vs. thing. Horse sports are team vs. thing.

So I realize that every normal person in the world wonders why I want to ride a horse for ten hours. Why did I spend years working up to it, and months dreaming about doing it again, and more money that I ever want to consider gearing up for it? It's for the little moments of adrenaline rush, over and over all day. It's when you crawl back on your horse and point her at the trail and all of a sudden you both come alive and you're flying, again.

Edit: hurf durf, days of the week are complicated.

21 comments:

  1. Just read "THE RIDE STORY"- LMAO about the beginning of your day but way to pull it together for a strong finish.. You must be living on cloud nine right now??? Congrats... someday.. I will get there..and understand how it feels. Right now, 2-35 miles is still huge to me..
    There is definitely an adrenaline rush to getting on a strong horse and flying down the trail.. You can't beat that feeling! Even if it's only a 12-15 mile condition ride.

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  2. Yeehaw and hell yeah! I totally agree. I can't wrap my head around NOT wanting to ride a horse for 10 hours! That's what got me interested in the first place--Oh you mean there's a sport just for riding all day? sign me up!

    Can't wait to enjoy the rush with you at some rides real soon!

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  3. "It's fucking outstanding and terrifying all at once."

    This. Perfect.

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  4. I for one don't want to have A Lot of Horse. I would be happiest to always have Just Barely Enough Horse. :)

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  5. I agree with you. Though I am no longer an adrenaline junkie. But when I used to train and show cutters and team roping horses, yeah, it was definitely a huge rush and the partnership was just as you say (but most cutters and team ropers are men--though there are plenty of women). Now I'm no longer interested in adrenaline rushes--I just got back from a two hour trail ride through an absolutely beautiful redwood forest. We crossed the creek, we trotted up a few hills--that was about as exciting as it got. And I LOVED it. I don't miss the thrills (and chills) at all. I think its maybe an age thing. I totally have no interest in riding for more than three hours--makes me too sore. No interest in getting hurt, either--I only ride my own gentle horse that I trust. But then, I rode over a hundred green horses and competed for over twenty years in cutting and roping, so maybe its partly been there, done that. Nonetheless, I agree with the point of your post.

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  6. exactly. You nailed it, the partnership is what makes the difference. Even through the fighting and the falls (sounds like a very dysfunctional relationship) when you and your horse GET it, nothing else compares.

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  7. Awesome freakin' post! Loved the last paragraph. And particularly the last sentence. You make me want to do endurance!

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  8. Love this! My husband has motorcycles and sports cars. He loves them, but I find them terminally boring. Sure, they're fast... but when you turn the steering wheel or press the brakes they always do just what you tell them. Where's the fun in that?

    I'd rather have a horse. You can't force a horse to do what you want. You train a horse, you build a partnership, you develop a relationship. But, at the end of the day, you still have something that may not turn or brake when you tell it to! A horse has a mind of it's own, and that is what makes them interesting.

    Completely off topic: I'm going to be stuck in Reno this weekend while my husband and other family members compete in the Trap Shoot there. Any recommendations for fun things to do would be much appreciated!

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  9. It seems that a lot of the "professional" horsepeople are male. However I agree that women seem to see horses as partners to build a relationship with whereas men see them more as tools to use. (of course that isn't 100% true for either gender)

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    1. I've thought about this before, and I really think they're able to do it for a living *BECAUSE* they approach it from a "tool" aspect rather than a partnership. I think being able to approach problem horses with a complete lack of emotion pushes them past good and into great.

      That's not to say that professional horsepeople don't actually like horses, but... I dunno. The best trainer I've ever met didn't actually like horses all that much - he was incredible and could turn a problem horse around and into a broke horse in less than 60 days (truly broke), but he didn't really like them. I wonder how many of the "great" trainers out there are the same?

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  10. Well said lady! I will add though that in my experience when you do find a man who's a true horseman - he loves them with a depth that goes beyond ours in some ways... maybe the strength of bond? Or the realization of what they give up to be our partners?

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    1. Yup, horsemen are wonderful people.

      See, I didn't want to sound like I was excluding men from horses, or saying that women are better with horses - just that I think women don't predominate in adrenaline-fueled solo sports. Like Shannon said ^^ bikes are fast, but they always do what you tell them to. There's no negotiation or partnership.

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  11. I don't think I could have said it better Funder. There is something about it, the half adrenaline, half partnership, that keeps me coming back. Trying to describe to anyone else why I get so excited talking about my horse trying to buck me off and then successfully navigating some tricky course... they just don't get it. For you it's that last loop, for me it's that race rush beginning... I love that feeling of a hyped up horse underneath me who almost listens... and then many miles later still has the gumption to buck because I cued her 'improperly.' It's that horrible ride where you barely make it through and are just so damn tired and excited to see the vet check... and the friendly nuzzle and nicker once it's all done.

    I could go all day, there aren't enough words to say why I love this... and you said it more articulately than even I could. Love reading your blogs Funder... just in case you didn't know this already.

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    1. Ooh, you said it really well too Caitlin! Thanks :D

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  12. All that + another 1/2 ton and you have me on a Draft horse doing all these things that light horse folk do. Even chasing the dogs is a goal of mine.

    I have no illusions of control when it comes to riding a draft horse. Let's face it 2000 pounds of muscle vs 125 pounds of human - if she didn't want me in the saddle, I wouldn't be there.

    For me it's knowing this partner of mine has a mind of her own, does these things for me because I respect her and she respects me. I also know that if I listen carefully - she may save our lives out there on the trail.

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  13. So true Funder.

    Had lots of reading to catch up on...Way to go for you and Dixie for finishing Washoe in such good form!!!

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  14. You summed it up quite nicely. I am in love with adrenaline :) The fun horsey kind. Not the "I dare you to jump over the fence and run from the dog" kind.

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  15. that's it, the thrill and the partnership. although I could do without bucking.
    : )
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

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