Necessary Goodbyes

Casper-featured

This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  My beautiful horse has been an integral part of my life for ten years, and now it is time to retire him, due to an arthritic leg. I see this as affirmation that this extended trip is the right thing to do. Let me explain the connection.

Horses have been a part of my life since I was six, and spent summers in Michigan. There have been phases where I stopped riding, but would always return.  Like many a young girl, my Christmas list always included a pony!  When I was 42, that wish finally came true.  I saw an ad for Casper in the newspaper (that’s where you placed classified ads then!), just a short little ad for an inexpensive, but tall horse, that would make a good jumping prospect.  My daughter is 6’1″, and I am 5’11”, so we were looking for a statuesque horse so our long legs would not brush the ground when mounted.  I called the owner, and he said he had a gal coming out to look at him at 3:00.  I asked, “Can I come out now?”  The result was I had a horse that I had to retrain from Western to English jumping and Dressage  delivered the next day.

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My trainer said Casper would make the best boyfriend, steady, reliable, concerned for his rider, but with just enough spunk to have fun with! So for ten years, he kinda HAS been my boyfriend.  I’ve worked at the barn to offset his board, leased him out to other riders,  and ridden him once or twice a week.  The trail rides we would go on were incredible!  I remember one New Years’ Eve, walking in the peaceful woods, when a delicate, fat-flaked snowfall began to drift down.  All was quiet, and magical, the only noise was his snow-muffled hoofs as we enjoyed the last day of the year.  And my last trail ride, just this past Friday when we had the most glorious gallop on the knolly path back towards the barn.  My heart swelled with the gratefulness  that culminated these ten years, and the reality that this was my last ride on my trusted steed.  The tears flowed.  They flow now.

So I believe Casper was brought into my life, a gift from God.  He has been such a gentle soul.  His retraining has been successful, and he loved his job as a lesson horse, teaching young riders.  My daughter and I had success in the show ring… something I had not aspired to do, but wanted to see how well we could compete occasionally.  Last year, I was gearing up to go to some more shows, but Casper turned up lame all summer. I could not figure out what was the matter, and called in equine chiropractors, massage therapists, and acupuncturists.  Finally, we took him for a lameness evaluation, and were given the arthritis diagnosis.  No more jumping.  He eventually became too lame for lessons with even the littlest riders.  Retirement was the only option.  This was about the time Adam and I started formulating this trip.  I could redirect my efforts from learning Dressage tests to planning where we were going to go around the world!  My finances would be channeled into saving for the trip, and there would be no obligation of boarding or horsecare while I’m gone.  I am seeing the Universe coming together to make this trip happen!

Friday my boy will go to a new home on 100 acres in Lake Geneva – a wonderful place – to be a beloved trail horse. I am assured this new phase of his life will be happy, and this is best for him and for me.  I am at peace about how things are coming together, and I know there is a higher purpose and order to these events.  I have accomplished my goals with owning a horse, and could not have asked for a better horse than Casper.  I don’t know why, but it wrenches my heart. Maybe because it took 42 years to achieve the goal of owning a horse? And he has been everything I could want with horse ownership? He has touched me like no other creature on earth has before.

My adventure awaits.

Pre-planning and Follow Through

rp_IMG_0480-300x264.jpgFinally!  Welcome to our blog and our epic adventure!  We will be taking quite the journey together for the next year or so.  For those who don’t know what’s in store, here is the scoop:  My son Adam and I will be homeschooling his senior year of high school, and literally traveling around the world.

When Adam was young, I homeschooled him until third grade, recognizing that he learned differently than my older daughters, who enjoyed school, and learned to “play the school game” as I call it.  Adam attended public school in fourth grade, and he has struggled ever since.  There is a certain segment of the population that participates well in class, but doesn’t like to turn in homework, or do the other “busywork” involved with school.  Adam is a clever boy, well-liked by teachers and classmates, but “not reaching his full potential.”  Have you heard that before?

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In looking for a solution to encourage him in school, or figure out how to engage him more in the school process, I read a book by Michael Gurian, called “How Boys Learn.”  This book has been very influential in my search for education for Adam.  We looked at all-boys schools, tried to get some of his teachers to read and implement some of Michaels suggestions, and even considered sending him away to a school that would understand his learning style better.  All along, I offered to homeschool again, but of course, the lure of friends and familiarity overrode any desire to have a more suitable learning experience.

Finally, in his Junior year of high school, Adam got fed up enough to agree to homeschool, and I sweetened the pot by offering to travel with him.  Traveling is SUCH a good education!  Adam would be learning hands-on skills, and get an eyeball-to-eyeball look at history, art, architecture, and cultures that only immersion can grant!

One thing stood in our way.

When Adam was 14, he did a stupid boy move, and as a result, was under court supervision.  He has learned from his mistake, and is not a risk for repeat offender.  My proposal was pretty radical; would the judge allow it?  Adam secured  letters of support from a teacher at school, and his guidance counselor.  His probation officer was encouraging, too!  We heard the judge had just passed down a memo to staff saying he didn’t like homeschooling and on-line courses, as some kids were just “buying” their diplomas.  Would he reject our plan, which obviously needed on-line courses to travel?  I put together a list of home school on-line curricula from information from the Regional Office of Education, to show that some courses were compliant with school district requirements.  We had a court date in the middle of June.  I had to pull together some kind of plan and itinerary, within just a few weeks.

Court day arrived.  We stood nervously in front of the judge.  He read through our packet, and when he was all finished, he gave his verdict.  Yes to homeschool, and on-line curricula!  Yes to travel!  We need to get a court order to leave the country (as yet to be secured).  OK!!!  Now to get this plan engaged!  Let’s see… it’s the middle of June, and target departure date is Sept. 1, 2014.  There is LOTS to figure out, and limited time.

So here is where DETERMINATION fits in!  I try to do something every day that will bring us closer to our goal of traveling.  There are lots of things that depend on something else happening first…like getting this blog off and rolling!  (THAT is a story for another day! ) Travel blogs to read,  Visas to check on, immunizations to get, classes to sign up for, volunteer work to secure.  The list goes on!  And as I research something, I realize, oh my!  I didn’t know I had to do that!  Or, “this is something else that needs to be done.” I have my yellow legal pad that I keep adding information on.  It is mind-boggling, and a little overwhelming.

I keep pressing forward, because I have to make this happen.  I feel like Adam’s life depends on it.  I would always regret if I did not take this opportunity that seems to be falling into place, at this time, in this situation, for my son.

An epic homeschool, longboard, and adventure around the world