Riding Lessons

I'm riding horses again. I have spent the last two years struggling to come to terms with what we do to horses and what they do to us. But I realized a few months ago that while I did not miss my career with horses, I was starting to miss my time spent with them. I began to yearn for velvety muzzles and prickly whiskers, ambling through fields and trotting in circles. Most of all, I missed the three-beat waltz of the canter, a steady, smooth gait that feels like breathing to me. Around the time I began thinking about horses, I was offered to start riding a wonderful (read: sound, free and well-trained) horse named Rapp (pictured). He greets me happily when I walk up to him, and watches me go when I leave. I feed him peppermints. I talk to him about the weather. I fawn over him, picking bits of straw out of his mane. I still look for lumps and bumps -- these are habits that a horse person never loses -- but I also notice Rapp's pretty dished face and hook-tipped ears, as if he was sprinkled with a dash of Arabian blood somewhere in his long genetic markup. These are all things that I either never had the time or emotional capacity to do when I worked with horses. The horse was a winner or a loser, push-button or yard art. And something or someone was running late.

I'm looking at horses with the child-like fondness I once had. I stretch my heels down and grab a fistful of mane, remembering what it felt like to practice the two-point, one of the first basic seats you learn when you start jumping. A large part of my time is spent thinking about my subconscious and how many actions come back to me without even thinking, sometimes with my body having to play catch-up. When I go to dismount, the ground seems a long way down. Was it always that far away? I think. Yes. It was. I just never noticed until I was face down in the sand.

And the sighs. Nothing, not even Malia Obama, can make my heart swell like the sound of a horse sighing. Nothing.

The next time you're around a horse, you'll see what I'm talking about. They sigh all the time. You just have to listen for it.

5 Response to "Riding Lessons"

  • SnotBubble Says:

    but what if Rapp's real name was "Schieffer"?

  • SnotBubble Says:

    but what if Rapp's real name was "Schieffer"?

  • FUBAR Says:

    this makes me happy.

  • Rebecca Bell-Metereau Says:

    Your horse entry made me want to take time out from campaigning for State Board of Education and go visit our horses again. They always act like it was just yesterday that we last rode them, even if it's been ages. OK, well maybe they're a little bit feistier, but they still greet us as if deep inside their horse hearts they know us and accept us as their humans. They live in a different time-space continuum, an eternal present, where they don't mind the rain, heat or cold. I try to learn from them and absorb their true stoic nature.

  • BakerGirl Says:

    I used to ride horses and bit the dust a few too many times. I still love them and rode a little in college but it was a club thing so I didn't really get to do what I have always wanted to do which is care for the horse. I want to ride one horse, brush him/her, feed him/her, water, bathe, ride and just generally care for one horse. I've never ridden one horse consistently enough to form a bond with it and that always bothered me. I'm hoping at some point I get the opportunity to pick it back up and I hope at one point to own a horse...Way down the line of life I guess... :-)

    And yes, nothing it better than a horse sigh. Or the smell of a stable. (My boyfriend thinks this is totally gross but whenever we walk by the stables in the park I breathe in deeply because it's a smell I've loved since I was a child....He holds his noses.)