These past 3 weeks I have shared with you the story of my horse, Frog. For those that are raised in this way of life, it really is a glimpse into who I am as much as it is who he was. Even after all these years, when I think of my time at the University of Montana, the rodeos seasons are flanked by two very large events. One that impacted the entire United States (9/11) and Frog’s death; one that impacted the trajectory of how I envisioned my life going. I am finally in a space- be it head space or life space- that when I was given the opportunity to edit and share the past series it triggered a plethora of memories. And, for the first time since his passing, it didn’t just trigger the sadness. Any other time before this, when I would think of my time there I only remember the times of trials and the last moments that I was by his side. This time it felt different. Perhaps it is because of the stage of life I am now in. Whatever the reason, I was more able to see the journey that he provided, and guided me through. The journey of building something amazing, and not just a winning barrel horse and successful rodeo career. The journey of building relationships, which as it turns out, is one of my most favorite things to do now. The mass number of people that were standing beside me supporting me through my high school and college rodeo dreams is dang near overwhelming. Those relationships were something that I took for granted as a twenty-something independent girl who had the world at her fingertips, and was pretty sure she knew all she needed to know. (As I mentioned in my first blog, You don’t know what you don’t know, there are still many lessons to learn at that age.) Honestly, I’m not sure I could have made it through most of it if I didn’t have that attitude.
For the first time, I am seeing the true gifts that Frog gave me. And they stretch most of my adolescent years through college and even now in this moment. I’m talking about the rodeo friend of my father who gave me a bit and headstall that would work better with my horse and his style when I first started riding Frog. The rodeo families that cheered me on in high school. The lifelong friends that allowed me to park my horses, my goats and my trailer at their place in Ralston, WY. The young married couple who invited me into their home and family the summer of my freshman year in college. The family that allowed me move my camper trailer, my horses, my goats and my dog to be the caretaker of their Florence, MT home. The family where I kept Frog the last few years of his life that opened their arena, their home and their lives to me. They transported him that final trip to the vet, while I rode by his side in the horse trailer. The family that held a team roping Easter weekend, after Frog passed, where one partner had to be on foot. I’m not sure it if is a real thing or if they just made it that way since I was without my mount then. I’m talking about the college buddy that tried to be sneaky and left a card on my porch the morning after I put Frog down. My fiercest competitor in the Big Sky Region that brought me a box of sour watermelons after Frog passed. Each person that still comes up to me and says that they remember my good horse, Frog. I remember each and every person that lifted me up, supported me and taught me to be a better cowgirl, and person, along the journey. Each person played a special role in building me up and building me into the person I am today.
I always knew that I learned some pretty valuable lessons from this guy. I never did give up on the journey of success. It wasn’t easy, that is certain. I never let others opinions of him or me stand in our way, in fact it fueled my fire. And, until recently, I thought the lessons that he taught me ended when he died- or shortly thereafter. I know there were many about getting back up and back on after he passed so the lessons didn’t even end when he died. I firmly believe that most obstacles can teach us a lesson that we will most certainly use later in our lives. I’m not sure why it took so long for me to figure out what life’s lesson was in that tragic Sunday evening. I’m not even sure why it had to be Frog’s passing that set the journey into motion.
It wasn’t until a conversation with a good friend, who didn’t even know me during this chapter of my life, that I saw this. As I began telling her of my story telling here on #outsidethearena, it all started to fall into place. As I spewed about the new adventure that is BFC I went on to say that I don’t know if people will read this. I don’t know if they will like it. And, that I realize it doesn’t matter. I started to write because of my love and my passion for the way I was raised and for the lifestyle that rodeo provides and more specifically provided me. It was during this conversation that I realized that I was able to think back on the events of my life and not just see and feel the immense sadness of Frog’s death but to see all of the times he brought me closer to someone else. To be able to think back on my life and see all of the people that impacted my journey. The journey itself was the lesson not so much how it ended.