Saturday, March 24, 2012

Still horse-crazy!

Horses, I’ve been told all girls are horse-crazy when they are young. 

I think of life as a sort of bell-curve.  We spend a short period of time young.  Then there is a long mostly undifferentiated period of time where we are adult.  My neighbors were old when I was young, and then as I became an adult – they were still old. 

Then there is a short period of time that we are ancient.  The two sides of the bell curve mirror each other.  And then there is the passage into death, the antithesis of the miracle of birth.

On the downsloping end of the bell curve, I became a horse owner once again.  Decades before I had dreamed of a horse that combined the fire and elegance of the Friesian horse and the solid dependability of a Shire.  I looked around and even wrote off to a ranch in Texas for pictures of a gelding of this breeding.  But it wasn’t right.

Then in 1999, my husband found a horse booth at a local fire station benefit show and they had Friesian/Shire crosses.  And the amazing thing is that their ranch was about 5 miles from our home.

I had lost my wonderful quarter horse gelding to a vicious bout of sand colic that finally claimed him after weeks of struggle.  I almost followed him in my grief several years before.  I was still bleeding inside and not sure that I could be around horses.  But I took a trip out to the barn, just to help with grooming or cleaning pens. 

And fell totally in love with a leggy 9 month-old filly.  In spite of the fact that I had decided that my next horse would be an older, well-trained gelding.  In spite of the fact that I had never had a young horse or a green horse.  In spite of the fact that as a self-employed artist, there was no way we could afford her.

To draw a quick veil over the next decade – let us just say that I had a number of car accidents resulting in a number of injuries which curtailed my riding (among other things).

I got well enough that I was able to do ground work with my mare.  There has been an upsurge of gentle training methods, learning the language of horses, of natural horsemanship.  After casting about with various methods and trainers, I’ve been very happy with the work done by Pat Parelli and his wife, Linda.  There is a lot of support on-line, classes, certified teachers, etc and it’s a gentle, progressive method.  You can find the site via your browser, if you are interested.

I have spent many many happy hours playing with my horse on-line.  I’ve made lots of mistakes but overall, I think she’s happy and balanced.  I’ve been telling myself the past couple of years that even if I never ride her, we have had a really good time together. 

So the amazing news is I’ve been riding her and just recently started riding her at a trot.  ( ! )  My new trainer, where Kyra also boards, has been very supportive and kind as the two of us figure out what we are doing. 

It is so amazing, I’m going to share a rough video shot of a recent ride.

So I’ve been so happy.  And so sore.  It is so amazing to ride my horse again.  There are many changes to the way I used to ride.  I have learned lots of hard lessons from the past decade.

But the thing that I am so proud of is that I learned hard lessons of my fragileness, but I didn’t embrace them.  I am so grateful that her first instinct is to stop rather than bolt in terror.  And I am grateful for gentle teachers who support their students through their learning times. 

It’s different riding as a person on the north end of the bell curve.   I remember watching a very old lady ride her ancient Shetland pony at one of the jumper barns I used to board at.  She’d feed this short plump fuzzy ball of a pony candy corn.  He’d narf it down and then dribble bright orange spit everywhere.

She was the oldest person I had ever seen on a horse.  I was proud of her.  I’m still proud of her.  She’s still the oldest person I’ve ever seen on a horse.  But she has set the bar for me.  And I hope for Kyra.  But I'm drawing the line at candy corn.  That's all for me.

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Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous horse! It looks like the two of you are well-suited to each other. Bravo for your courage and strength, Sheron.

Jester Jay: Jason Goldman said...

So cool. I love your insights about time of life and the journey that lay behind you.

Monica said...

Oh - soo sweet! She has a lovely trot! And she's goes so easily. You guys look great together.

You are doing a wonderful job at working through your trepidation, and building trust and competence between you and Kyra. I need to know when your lesson schedule is as I'd love to come watch again.

Sis said...

Good posting, nice seat.