What is the difference between a mediocre life and an amazing life? Perhaps it lies in one’s ability to be amazed, to see the beauty and the connectedness of all life. That’s certainly what you might think if you were to check in with STRIDE member and Century Ride award winner, Edith Finlayson.
When talking with Edith, it is evident that she feels truly privileged and awed for each minute she spends and has spent with her horses and other animals. She recalls many unlikely friendships between horses and other non-equines, like chickens and cats who had horses as best friends, and who knows…maybe even confidants, but in each case, the bond the animals shared was real and evident. Edith has always respected these bonds and sought to develop a level of trust and respect that denotes true partnership.
Edith recalls visiting her grandparents’ farm in Iowa every year until she was 15. It was there that she struck up a friendship with the farm’s plow horse. She was so taken with horses that at age 13, she joined a riding club associated with her Chicago high school. Despite the fact that it required riding three buses then walking a half mile to the barn for a nearly hour long trip, Edith persisted in order to be part of the riding club.
In time, she gravitated toward jumping. As a jumper rider, Edith had a lot of exciting rounds, some more memorable than others, like the time at the Colorado State Fair when she landed in the middle of a triple bar. Her horse apparently thought the course was finished, but Edith continued on over his head!
Eventually, Edith graduated and married, and she got lucky- her husband liked horses and was a rider. He liked them enough to eventually build an indoor arena to combat the icey cold Illinois winters, and he did it on property that was adjacent to her sister! What a guy!
However, in 1988, he announced a bombshell. He wanted to move to Florida. Edith’s first thought? “Well, I’m taking my horses!” And she did. They bought 7.5 acres and moved the herd!
It worked out well! Around age 50, Edith had decided that it was time to leave the jumping scene. She had a thoroughbred who was a little hot, and she had started doing dressage with him in Illinois. However, after she came to Florida, she discovered a tack shop and the horsey folks who frequented it in Belleview, and one connection led to another. She found STRIDE (she’s been a member since 1990), Charlotte Trentleman, and Greta Wrigley, and began pursuing her dressage career in earnest.
Her current mount, a homebred three-quarter Arabian gelding named Lil’ Bit O’ Luck, has been with her since his birth. He’s now 16. The two have an amazing connection as a result of their uninterrupted time together. One mind.
While Edith and Lucky have competed at third level, they’ve turned their attention to Western dressage these days. It’s a new challenge.
Interestingly enough, Edith did not complete her Century Ride on Lucky. She rode a horse belonging to Jody Simonton, “Society’s Hot Money,” on whom she also won Training and First Level Championships.
She now looks forward to Lucky’s 18th birthday and her 82nd birthday. That’s when the numbers will add up to the magic 100, and she will be able to do her second Century Ride with her beloved pal.
Edith notes that dressage has helped her learn just how aware horses are and how subtle the communication with horses is because of their awareness. In realizing this, she has become more attuned to her body, its actions and reactions to the horse.
What about recommended reading? Edith suggests perusing Walter Zettl’s volume, Dressage in Harmony: From Basic to Grand Prix. She took a clinic with the author and found his teaching extremely valuable.
When asked about words of advice for riders, Edith is quick to point out that being with and working with horses is God’s gift. She emphasizes, “Take care of the horse and have fun!”
In other words, be amazed, and the rest will work out!