Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Friendship starts with a solid foundation

Lee & Liz Conducting Clinic Together

Lee up on her Fox Trotter "Morgan".
I think Lee and I about rode the hair off her horses Morgan and Sara this weekend in her arena.

Liz up on Lee's Fox Trotter "Morgan".

Ours was a friendship started in finding each other in a very lonely place in our passion about horses and helping them.
It was a time when people were pushing hard once again to define and protect the Naturally Gaited TWH. For Lee and I who were primed and ready to serve the cause, but found we saw it different than many others though and it always kept us on the outside of the main body of the movement. I laugh now as it was the time of typewriters and carbon paper and a long distance call was 10 cents a minute so we wrote lots of letters not having the funds for long distance calls, my living in VA and she being in CO.

First and foremost we have always been for the horse, and not in name only. We never ever went the wayward direction and then later claimed to have seen the light and reformed our methods in teaching and working with horses. We always remained clean of using gimmicks and gadgets accepted even in the so called naturally gaited circles.
It was these strict rules set in ourselves that kept us apart of the masses in the movement, we hated the playing of the political games, the manipulations, standing on the grey line was not for either of us.
Soring was not the only unacceptable methods to each of us but so was the fast growth of mechanical manipulation in the flat shod movement.
To us anything less was not acceptable in building character, credibility and self respect in ourselves in which we could live a lifetime with. We saw this in each other and it was what brought our friendship together and made it last the test of time and even through some of the toughest of challenges.
Our own education and sharing it with others was the key for us both, we believe honest straight forward education would empower the horse owners to make the right choices in having success and helping the horses have quality lives at the same time.
Our friendship was not always smooth, we certainly would criticise each other and challenge each other as well.
Lee was tougher than I was and I being 10 years younger was more naive and lacked 10 years of experience that Lee had on me as well . Lee also had a much more advanced academic education than I did.
She worked hard on toughing me up to it all and she said I helped her soften her edges as well.
We would argue but not as silly school girls but with true passion in disagreements in definitions or applications in training refinement. Sometimes we worked them out and came to a consensus and sometimes we didn't, and it was accepted by each of us when this would happen it just took awhile sometimes. This also is what created that rock solid respect for each other.

I feel the biggest challenge to our friendship was the coming of the computer age though, when e-mail and chat lists came in to being. This was the perfect venue to reach large numbers of people seeking help. The hole in it all was often the opportunist would pretty much suck us dry at times and also worked at putting us against each other as well, sometimes it worked too until we figured out the games they were playing. In the end it always came back in that we both knew we had the same foundation in our passion and naughty people could not even break that and a phone call to each other would bring about the truth in each matter.
Lee's passing has been a challenge in many ways, first in my own guilt of not getting to her in time.
My last e-mail from her on Feb. 15th was as follows:

"i will be needing home hospice care very soon. can't stand walk or talk now-- nott a good way to die, by inches. only one fing er works to type. "

It is just as she typed it, upon receiving it I called and asked if she wanted me to come. Her answer was yes and I made the reservation to fly out for the 6th of March being the soonest I could not leave the ranch here due to a difficult load of training clients, not the horses, but the owners at that time. I was 4 days to late getting to her. The pleasing of those clients was not worth the guilt I carry still.
Second in that I have not had her to work with, to stand up to the poor horse handling/training practices that just keep rearing their ugly heads and always will. Two voices are always better than one when you speak the same language in being honest, real and for the right reason.
Third and lastly is this last 6 month I now find I am having to fight to keep her legacy of education going in that there has been some action in trying to bury it.
So as I close in this blog post that may bore many, but is a release of thoughts for myself I will say Lee's work is timeless. It's not about being in fashion, politically correct but of true experience and her own self discipline to get it right and never hold back anything to help others, even if she had to scream once in a while to get her message across.
I my self am still learning from her and value the friendship we had that is also timeless in that it was also real, honest and solid in it's foundation.
My wish for everyone is able to learn the difference between a true friendship and what an acquaintance is. There is a world of difference in knowing just one true friend means so much more than a million acquaintances in a life time.

Liz Graves
copyright 2010