Tuesday, May 3, 2011

All I Really Need to Know....

Today I was a substitute teacher for a really sweet little Kindergarten class at a local elementary school. As they went about their day, it made me think about the wonderful book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. I love this book and I find myself relating to his insight all the time. We all know these truths and can agree, and I'd be very surprised if all of the lessons we learned in Kindergarten don't help us out at some point in everything we do, every day of our life. 

Because my day constantly seems to involve eventing at one point or another, I am not at all surprised to find that Fulghum's observations can translate to this world, too. What I've most often come to realize is that "All I Really Need to Know About Eventing I Learned in Kindergarten."

  • Share Everything: This is certainly something eventers are great at! You need a hoofpick? Borrow mine. A pair of spurs? Here you go. We share equipment, trailer space, barn space, tack rooms, clothing, boots, saddles, XC vests, and sometimes even horses. When it comes to sharing, we've got that one covered!

  • Play Fair: One thing we pride ourselves on as eventers is that we don't compete against one another....we strive to overcome the elements of one horse and one rider facing any number of challenges together throughout a competition. Maybe that's the challenge of bettering a dressage score, jumping clear without time penalties on cross-country, or avoiding refusals in show jumping. Sometimes the obstacles are tangible, and some are more personal or psychological. But ultimately, there are very, very few incidents that would involve "cheating" or not playing fair in the world of eventing. This is a lesson that it seems eventers live by and embody quite well.

Champagne Run competitors hacking together
to show jump.

  • Clean Up Your Own Mess: Whether it is barn management, horse ownership, competitions, veterinary issues, nutrition, riding, training....we like to take care of everything ourselves. Eventers are a very hands-on bunch who thrive on being involved in the action on every level (in good times and bad). Rarely do we travel with tons of helpers or grooms. If my horse needs fed at a horse trial, I feed him. If his stall needs cleaned, I clean it. If he needs a bath, I bathe him. If he needs braided, I braid him. If my tack needs cleaned, I clean it. If my trailer needs packed, I pack it. If I am the one responsible for creating the "mess," then I am the one who cleans it up.

Eddie doesn't clean tack!

  • Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some: As natural "multi-taskers," I have never known such an interesting and well-rounded group as are eventers -- doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, veterinarians, accountants, moms, dads, etc. This makes for an infinite number of fascinating conversations around the stables. It is always amazing to me the ways in which eventers (amateurs, in particular) balance so many parts of the puzzle at one time. Work, riding, training, family, fitness, home, travel, play....it all becomes part of the eventer, as the eventer stays connected to all of these things in his/her life. I know that if I didn't have time to garden, read, do my crosswords, teach, write, and ride, that I would be a disaster. It's about the whole picture, not just one tiny part!


    • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we: I've never known a kindred population quite like eventers, who are so aware of mortality; facing it, fighting it, and respecting it at all times. I've loved and lost dozens of pets over the years, but I had the hardest time dealing with the sudden death of my OTTB, Reece, in the summer of 2008. It was unexpected and that was the hardest thing to accept, but I hardly know any of my fellow eventers (or any other horse owners/animal lovers) who haven't shared a similar loss. Just knowing they've been there and overcome the same painful heartache helps me feel like I am not alone and -- sadly -- there just wasn't anything I could have done to change the inevitable. It happens to all animals, to all of us, at some point. That has probably been the hardest lesson to embrace of them all.

    Me and Reece on a long-ago misty morning.

    • And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together: This lesson needs no further explanation. We eventers have GOT this one figured out.....and then some.

    Middle Tennessee eventers celebrating a great weekend at MTPC!


    Lauren said...

    LOVE IT!

    Jason said...

    Fulghum is a favourite of mine, too ! :)

    Kate Wooten said...

    Sad, but I can name each Butt.

    Kelsey said...

    Thank you for the multitasking pic, Holly dearest. Ohhh that was a good day. Cross-country at River Glen HT finished (or was that dressage & stadium day?), on to the lake!!!! ;)

    Holly Ratcliff said...

    Kelsey, I actually think it was both days that we went from RG straight to the lake (and the two days prior, as well). I love it when you come visit for River Glen! Instead of a stressful horse trial weekend, it's more like drinks, lake, rides on the Gator, drinks, movies, lake, wine and cheese at the Crown and Goose, lake....with a little eventing thrown in there too. I used that picture of you at the lake to define the multi-fun aspect of a Kelsey/Holly show weekend, since any struggling photos of me on the lake in the sinking float with the hole in it wouldn't have looked half so pleasant and enjoyable. :-)