Teachings From A Mare Called Buckie
In recent months, many of my followers have been asking me if I have disappeared! I have taken an intentional break from from the horse show merry-go-round due to Covid. In place of travels and competition highs and lows, I am writing a book about what I have learned about myself and my work from my equine partners. The result is a work in progress called My MindZone: A Personal Philosophy Emerging from a Lifetime with Horses. It chronicles many of the amazing equine relationships I have had throughout my life as well as the teachings I received along the way. Many of these nuggets of wisdom have seeded my MindZone philosophy. I plan to release sections of this project periodically to keep you posted on my behind the scene work. The following is an excerpt that shares some teachings I received from a mare called Buckie:
From the moment I swung my 9 year old leg over her bareback Palomino golden side, Buckie aligned with my intentions and produced! We explored the Santa Monica mountain fire road system, sometimes we were gone adventuring for 8-9 hours. My friends and I packed pb&j’s, watered the horses in the creeks, and grazed them in the lush grass patches near the water. I often felt on the edge of my abilities as a rider as we navigated the dirt roads and connecting trails. But I always knew for sure that Buckie supported the endeavor and would make it all work out or show me we needed to choose a different route. We became mind readers and where my vision pointed, Buckie went. I discovered that she was foolproof when I tied a baling twine string into a circle and placed it around her neck instead of any bridle or halter – we galloped the fire road trails in complete synchronized rhythm. Buckie seemed to mirror my own thoughts back to me, giving me the chance to observe my thoughts, not just act on them.
Buckie was not only a trusty trail and adventure horse, but she was also fast and nimble. Plus, her back was comfortable and her gaits easy to sit. Sometimes community members would organize a gymkhana show in which we played games on horses like egg and spoon, slalom pole bending, barrel racing, and other types of obstacle courses. These events were really fun for Buckie and me because we could focus our intuitive connection on sport and performance. My partnership with Buckie ignited my competitive drive with horses. I loved winning speed races with my friends on the home-made track around the perimeter of the five acre field where we rode. I won my first blue ribbons on Buckie as well when we completed the barrel racing and pole bending patterns the fastest.
Buckie also awakened my love for jumping and although she was not anatomically designed for stylish jumping in the show ring, she was game for anything. We used fallen trees strategically placed between two standing trunks, stacks of firewood or rocks, and unused wooden rails from corrals all over the field for jumping fun. One day some old oil or fuel barrels arrived and we used them as jumps – first on their sides and later as we mastered the lower configuration, we stood them up and dared each other to jump “the top of the barrels!” Buckie and I were among the first to canter down to them and pop over. I can feel the excitement mixed with a dash of fear as I imagine it even now! We became what I imagined as legends for our prowess in all endeavors of challenge at the field!
Buckie gave me courage, confidence, and the hunger to become a top rider. I hope I properly honored her pure desire to do her best every day. She taught me to go towards my dreams unabashedly and to always respect the limitations of the original agreements made between horse and rider. I believe she agreed to give me the confidence to grow into a show rider, but she was not able to take me very far down that path. When Buckie and I parted ways, it was me honoring her needs and mine. I found her another 9 year old girl who wanted to learn about horse love and care in her backyard horse community. Knowing when and how to let go of a partner is as important as knowing when to say yes to a new one. Being a girl with a horse sized heart always kept me focused on my dreams and supported me to take the next step when it emerged. No risk was too big. This has stayed with me throughout my life and I often return to memories of that golden Palomino with the big white spot on her right flank and reflective eyes when I need to take the next leap.
Every time I revisit the stories of Buckie, I feel again the range she brought me -- from unconditional love, adventure, trust, introspection, heartbreak and understanding my competitive nature, more wisdom is revealed. My professional work as a clinician specializing in equestrian athletes has inspired me to write about my horse past as a way to catalog the many teachings I have received and integrated into my theoretical approach. My internal child voice is always present when I connect with horses. Competing, training, and success are the top layer of a deep equine well that is stocked with learning and reflecting about life.
I divide my time between my private sport psychology consulting and individual therapy practice. I am an amateur jumper rider competing the California “AA” circuit. My professional training as a psychologist, coupled with personal experience, allows me to support athletes and laypeople to achieve consistency and overcome challenges. Balancing the many layers of life, my approach blends personal narrative and experience, mind-body connection awareness. My MindZone: A Personal Philosophy Emerging from A Lifetime with Horses is ready for a publisher. Please contact me for a full synopsis of the book or to learn more about working together:
Dr. Carrie Wicks • firstname.lastname@example.org • 707-529-8371