There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.
Forty-three years ago I said goodbye to Clyde, our beautiful Welsh pony. Well, technically Clyde was my brother's horse, but I loved him, and spent hours (it seemed) loping through the horse pasture pretending I was a cowboy.
(Yes, "cowboy" because they were the only ones on TV wearing jeans - not dresses - and having any fun!)
I was ten, fearless, and seriously horse-crazy, but, unfortunately, also severely asthmatic. Both hay and horses would get me wheezing. All too often, by the time Clyde was saddled I'd be so choked up I couldn't ride, so when my brother became more interested in girls than horses, my parents sold Clyde.
My sweet older sister knew how much I missed him and found places for me to ride, but I was only allowed to walk the horses around a pasture. Nothing exhilarating or 'cowboy-like' about that...
It seemed my riding days were over, except for a couple of trail rides in Colorado and Montana with my kids years later... a little more exciting than walking around a pasture, but not much, although my fearlessness had dissipated - horses actually made me nervous! They were so big! Walking nose to tail was just fine with me, thank you.
And then Lisa, Fancy, and Ryan walked into my life. Lisa lives up the road (and the hill, and around a few bends) from me.
Remember that day last month when we were chasing Miss Bessie through the Hollow? Coincidentally, Lisa also appeared on our road, riding Fancy. A friend of hers rode Ryan, her ten-year-old daughter's horse, because her daughter had had surgery and Lisa needed help exercising the horses.
Me! Me! Oh, pick me!
I've ridden two evenings this week. Yes, I was a little nervous at first, but Ryan is such a sweetheart that when he took off trotting for the first time my heart only raced for a few seconds. He mostly plods along behind Fancy, Lisa's horse, but when we head uphill, he loves to trot and pass her up. I swear he even stretched into a lope for a few seconds.
Lisa is a great teacher, reminding me of things buried deep in my memory, like how to get on and off and get them to stop and turn. Important things. But she does it without making me feel stupid.
Thank you, Lisa!
And on our ride tonight, exploring dirt roads that twist up and down and around these cedar-covered hills in our neighborhood, I could feel that ten-year-old horse-lovin' wannabe-cowboy, er, cowgirl, waking up inside me, the one who always had her nose in a horse book, like "Black Beauty" or "Misty of Chincoteague", whose bedroom was filled with horse statues, whose favorite weekend ever was still the one she spent riding horses on her friend's grandmother's farm when she was nine.
I think Ryan and Fancy recognized that ten-year-old, too, because they both nuzzled me after the ride. Well, Ryan just used my arm as a scratching post for his forehead, but he also gave my hand a little smooch and Fancy really did nuzzle my hair, blowing softly.
Yes, I'm in love again.
To ride a horse is to ride the sky.
No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.
Horses lend us the wings we lack.