Tuesday, Apr. 16, 2024

Being The Finder

A few weeks ago my Tae Kwon Do instructor, Master Tony Horkan (husband of amateur hunter rider Lysa Burke Horkan), spoke to us at the end of class about a young boy who was a star ball player who broke his right arm at the beginning of basketball season.

“So, what should this boy have done?” Tony asked our class, a group of mostly children and a few adults. “Should he have given up on his dream and quit?”

“No! He should learn to dribble with his left hand,” said one young student.
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A few weeks ago my Tae Kwon Do instructor, Master Tony Horkan (husband of amateur hunter rider Lysa Burke Horkan), spoke to us at the end of class about a young boy who was a star ball player who broke his right arm at the beginning of basketball season.

“So, what should this boy have done?” Tony asked our class, a group of mostly children and a few adults. “Should he have given up on his dream and quit?”

“No! He should learn to dribble with his left hand,” said one young student.

“Yes!” said Tony smiling.

And that’s what being a “finder” is all about. Even if something goes awry in your life, you should always look to find another way to accomplish your goals. And due to the unpredictable nature of horse sports, being a finder certainly transcends to our world.

This philosophy is all about finding a positive mental focus when the negatives overwhelm you.

I reflected on Tony’s words as I prepared my horse for the Capital Challenge Horse Show (p. 8). Early in the year I’d mapped out my plan for the show season, and I decided that the Capital Challenge in nearby Upper Marlboro, Md., would be my horse’s grand finale in the pre-green division. This is one of my favorite shows. I really enjoy the pomp and circumstance of the American Hunter Jumper Foundation classes, and, with lots of my friends there to watch, I figured my horse would at least have a raucous cheering section.

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Unfortunately, things didn’t materialize as I’d hoped. A variety of problems arose during the summer that prevented me from following the original plan, from family commitments to an annoying skin allergy to a Virginia drought.

I considered scratching from Capital Challenge, but then Tony’s story gave me pause. What else could I do to prepare my horse in the few weeks prior to the show? I needed a Plan B and to concentrate on being a finder.
 
So, my trainer and I added a show to our schedule, spent more time working on gymnastics and made some equipment changes that greatly enhanced his jumping style. My horse responded positively to the added attention and changes, and even though he’s not quite where I’d hoped he’d be at this time, I’m focusing on the positives.

Sure it’s easy to throw in the towel when things don’t go your way, but the real satisfaction for me comes when I look back and see how far we’ve come despite the many obstacles.

I couldn’t attend the Capital Challenge early in the week during the future hunter divisions, but thanks to the Capital Challenge live Internet feed I was able to watch my horse perform with professional Sandy Ferrell while I sat at my desk in Middleburg.

He wasn’t perfect, but he bravely cantered around that impressive ring, jumped in good form and earned respectable scores. As I watched him, I thought about how far my young horse has progressed since the beginning of the year. I’m incredibly proud of him, and I truly couldn’t ask for more from a horse competing in his third AA show.

As Tony frequently says to us, a black belt is a white belt who never gave up. Likewise, I like to think a regular working hunter is that pre-green hunter whose people never gave up on him.

We obviously have a long way to go until we tackle the four-foot division, but I’m going to do my best to continue being the finder in my horse’s life. And, of course, the one with a never-ending supply of peppermints.

Tricia Booker

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