I have always said that I didn't think I could live in a city, ask anyone. Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about that a lot, because at this point its really hard for me to imagine leaving this one. Something about it definitely changes you, but I think that may have more to do with the actual Spanish culture than it does with city life. Everything is a little bit slower in Spain. There is less emphasis on material things, and people just don't get so worked up about the petty things. Most appreciate their friends, family and their church, and live life accordingly.
That being said Spain also has a 25% unemployment rate right now, and has overcompensated for Franco's dictatorship with lenient laws that could allow murders and other criminals to be back on the street in under ten years. There are many problems with Spain, so it is by no means the perfect country, its democracy is young and they are still getting over the machista mentality. Lets be serious though, is that going to be possible anywhere in the world? Even the young people here prescribe to the same prehistoric notions that give women fewer rights than men. Don't get me wrong, women legally have the same rights, but socially that is a different story. I'm taking a class this semester called Women Writers in the 20th Century, and while I was dreading taking a Lit class, I think this one will actually be really interesting. The teacher is fantastic, the class isn't supposed to be hard, and so far all we have talked about are the social implications of being a woman in this world. Interesting stuff.
Anyway, I guess the reason I bring up city life is because today, for the first time since I've been here, I stopped and stood with one of the carriage horses for several minutes just loving on him. I know, I know, its probably surprising that it was literally the first horse I've touched since I've been here since they are such an enormous part of who I am. I also have the urge to pet almost every dog that walks down the street too. What can I say, I'm an animal lover. So while I have this romantic notion about city life, Sevilla, and all the fun I'm having, could I really live without that one piece of me that I've never quite been able to get enough of? On Wednesday I was supposed to go out for my first riding lesson at Hacienda Dos Olivos, but today my señora reminded me that Wednesday is Huelga, the national day of protest, so the buses won't be running.
I think that the longer I go without being around horses the more I start thinking about them. Its interesting too, because my friends here don't really know that side of me, they know I ride pretty seriously and that I love horses, but I sometimes find that many don't understand or identify with this intense passion. Actually, most people around me don't understand it. Its the kind of thing that if I suddenly had to live without for the rest of my life, I'd probably become a different, less sane, and probably fairly sad or angry person. They are my therapy, my rock, and most of all I think I'm extremely lucky to have had such special horses in my life. They are the kind of animals that have so much personality and unconditional love that I can't help but feel like a healthier happier person when I'm around them. At the same time I think that the horses that I have been lucky enough to work with find their way to me because they have more personality than most want to deal with. A lot of the horses I work with end up with me because others don't want to put the time or resources into their training and teaching them to be solid citizens. Because I'm a girl who can't afford to have my own horse long term, helping a horse get to a point where it can take another rider to greatness is a point of pride for me. It doesn't happen every time but when it does the feeling is like flying. Check out my old project Zena for example, you remember her right? That photo above is after a month of working with her. By the time we sold her she was competing at 3' for the first time.
Would you have believed me if I had told you I thought that this pony would make it to the top of her sport? Well you might have if you know me and how seriously I take all this stuff, but most people who met her before I started with her thought that she was just some stupid bitchy pony that would never amount to anything. In just one year with her new owner and my new friend Nikki, she has already moved up three levels in eventing - her sport - had lessons with Olympians (and the eventing team chef d'equipe) David and Karen O'Connor, and qualified for the Training level 3 day finals! Okay so here is the super pony now: freaking fantastic right? Hopefully more to come, I absolutely love getting updates about this little one, and she will always have a special place in my heart. I'm hoping the little yellow pony will make her way into a new home at the end of 2011, I know she will make some kid a very happy child. These little horses with big personalities are just the best! I'm hoping at some point I will be able to pick up a project that I can truly call my own, and together we can advance beyond the point that I will get to on borrowed horses. At this point though, I'm lucky to have supportive people around me, and a happy yellow pony sitting in a field waiting for me to come home. That thought always brightens my day.