Hot and cold. Light and dark. Day and night. Progression and Regression. TA Prelude and Luke.
All of these are examples of two sides of the same coin –– you can’t have one without the other. When we talk about progression, we need to talk about regression too.
To articulate this dynamic of not having progression without regression, I’m going to tell you Luke’s story. Luke is my horse, more formally known as TA Prelude, but for the sake of most of this story he’s just Luke.
TA Prelude +// took what some would call an early retirement at 14 years old with 15 national championships to his name. As a competitive team, he and I climbed to the highest of highs. He won local, regional and national championships in youth, adult amateur and open (professional) disciplines. TA Prelude was a name known on the most prestigious stages the Arabian horse industry has to offer.
Luke, on the other side of the coin, was a nervous show horse. I have always said showing Luke was unlike any of the dozens of other horses I have shown in my life. He wanted to win. He’s very human-like in that way. Before this goes on any longer, I want to say very clearly, TA Prelude was (and still is) treated like a king by his professional care team. His nervousness was met with patience, gentleness and creating a one-of-a-kind plan that worked for him.
With his measured success in trophies, roses and ribbons came a different kind of cost – so is life. We can all think of times we succeeded socially and watched our grades or work life suffer. Or maybe we were working so much we didn’t have time to exercise our bodies. Dang, don’t we sometimes wish those coins had more than two sides ….
He was 14 when I (as his owner) was having the retirement conversation with his team. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about how TA Prelude would transition into becoming full-time Luke. There would be no more training or competing at the heights he was used to. I could have used aggressive treatments so I got to show him for another year or two. Although I had more hopes and dreams for us as a team, I knew that chasing those dreams would mean TA Prelude’s body would be so used up, Luke wouldn’t get much of a chance to be a horse. That’s a coin that only had one side.
The regression of TA Prelude became the progression of Luke.
After that conversation in the summer of 2020, TA Prelude’s show shoes were pulled, and he began his retirement. He spent months at my family’s barn where he lived his days outside, was never asked (or very able) to do anything but walk and was only ridden once. For those of you who aren’t horse people, this is like telling Michael Phelps the closest thing he can do to his normal routine is to flail his arms in the bathtub.
Four days ago, after eighteen months of retraining, relaxation, and rehabilitation, Luke jogged with me in the saddle for the first time. That was something we did as a team without thinking for years as part of our training. I will never take a jog with him for granted again. It’s progress that I can put my left foot in the stirrup, swing my right one leg over his back and have him carry me around.
Luke is still a very happy horse today, in some ways he is happier. His progress isn’t rated in his competition record anymore, but our relationship has progressed to heights much higher and more valuable. From 2012 – 2020 I knew TA Prelude better than anyone as a teammate, and our accolades show that. But since then, really getting to know Luke as a pet and companion has brought just as much joy to my life. I smiled the same smile on July 23, 2012, when we earned our first national championship as I did January 21, 2022, when we took our “second” first jog.
Let Luke’s story remind you that just because you feel stuck or are redirected from the goal you have in mind, you are still moving forward towards something better – even if you don’t know what the “better” is yet. You should also remind yourself that a regression in one area demands a progression in another. Two sides of the same coin.
Now, flip that sucker in the air and let it land on the other side so you can get started.