Lesson from the Arizona Desert

Arizona was absolutely amazing, and exactly what I needed in a time that I was feeling very lost. The way I found myself committing to a summer in one of the hottest places in the country was very much one of fate [if there is such a thing.] Last February after leaving the barn and the breakup I happened to check my email before going to campus, and there, right on an email that I typically automatically delete was an add for a “Camp Fair.” I believe I literally shrugged and printed out a handful of resumes and headed off to see what it had to offer. Upon my arrival I quickly had several interviews and even a couple of job offers on the spot, and I took the one that seemed to be the correct fit… I committed.

Three months later I found myself turning down a long dirt road, about 100 miles from nowhere and feeling quite concerned about what I was getting myself into. That long dirt road eventually became one of welcoming and one of the strongest feelings of home that I have ever felt. The camp which I was hired by resides on the campus of an extensive boarding school, and was a literal oasis in the desert. The people I met were incredible and they taught me so much about how to be on a team and accept others. I really struggled at times, but my boss was amazing and always had the right advice, or she would just tell me to suck it up… either way, she got me through it. I had the amazing chance to ride in a Grand Opening of a Rodeo, shoot gun off a horse, try a ceramic wheel and watch baby skunks outside my window. These experiences ranged from common to very strange, but it all was perfect. Every single day I woke up and was able to have something completely different from the day before.

The horses there were pretty awesome, from a little shaggy pony that took care of our most fearful and goofy rider, to the ex-racehorse who I rode daily, to the blind ex-Grand Prix-er who took me over some amazing cross country rides. one horse, Puff, was one of the literally most challenging horses I have ever ridden. One moment he would ready to blast off, and the next in one of the best canters I have ever ridden. He had one of the best personalities I have ever dealt with. He was caring and attentive, but goofy and stubborn at the same time.  Puff (dark bay pictured to the right) was one amazing horse, he was an incredible combination of fire and sugar, that I don’t know if I will ever see again. I wish I could have had more time to spend with him, I am not saying he is my forever horse- but he was definitely one of the best teachers I have ever met.

Speaking of teachers, my mentor was a woman who I will not soon forget, and not one I ever want to. She was so inspiring to me because she was essentially a self made rider. Kay was the kind of horsewoman that  I could only dream about becoming, she had the definition of “feel” down to a tee, and more knowledge about horses in her pinky, than I hope to ever have in my entire body… I finally felt like she was someone who I might be able to connect with, and continue to remain friends with. The path of fate that led me into her tutelage was twisted and strange, but on a deeper level, I wonder if it was actually meant to be.

There are so many other aspects that I might write about in Arizona, but since this is an overview, the final amazing part of Arizona was a confirmation of my career choice. I felt like I saw horses affect people, children and adults alike to a degree that I have never seen and it was quite possibly one of the most moving and self confirming experiences I have ever seen.

On another level, Arizona was exactly what I needed for my own psyche. I needed to get in an environment in which I was uncomfortable. I needed to get out of my comfort zone and really see what I was made of, both in the horse world, and on a personal level, and I passed my own test with flying colors. Hopefully I made some friends I might be able to keep in touch with, but even if I didn’t I sure had an amazing summer, and I hope I can always remember the things I was taught there. I also was constantly reminded, literally everyday, of how rses can continue to be teachers in my own life, and gosh, how much I have to learn, about life and horses alike. I think we all always need to remember that there is always more to learn, and more to teach.

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