Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Looking Forward, Thinking Back

here’s little that sets a horseman’s heart a-twitter like a new horse, even when the new horse is an old horse.   In my case, it’s not only a new old horse, it’s a new former horse come home to roost.  

By now all of my Facebook friends are more than aware that my daughter sent her TB mare, Dolly, back home last weekend to live out her days as an old lady’s partner and friend.  Not that I needed another of either of those.  I have been happily riding good old Leo, feisty Zip, and chunky Dakota with occasional forays on other people’s horses when the opportunity arose.  And I’ve been riding Dolly.  I’ve had lessons on her, done clinics with her, and had a few hours of free play time with her at her last digs while she was still my daughter’s favorite cathected object.  This is in no way a Putting Out to Pasture for either of us, and that’s what got me thinking.
Jess and Dolly doing things that I don't do
Of late—ever since my daughter announced her intention to pull up stakes and head for the wilds of Indianapolis—I’ve had cause to reminisce about times past.  There were the frantic shared rides on my first horse, Cowgirl, whose attitude ranked negative 5 on a scale of one to ten.  Those scary moments when I stuck my child on a horse that pretended not to see us when we entered the barn where she was boarded weren’t nearly as scary as the ones when I stuck my own body up there without benefit of an adult on the ground to catch me post-launch.  That was the longest seven months of horse ownership of my career.

More of what Dolly and I won't be doing
There were the horses that came and went, and the ones that came and stayed.  There were the twenty-mile trail rides, just the two of us and our happy horse buddies, that we thought nothing of doing on a weekly basis.  And there were the bareback races on the railroad bed and the barrel races in arenas.  There were the hunter paces when we partnered up and the local shows when we were adversaries. 
What there never were were times when I thought this whole horse thing was a craziness that needed to pass before it killed one of us.  It never did…pass, or kill one of us.  It did offer a few ER visits and some time off for assorted reasons, but no real loss of momentum or body parts.

What we can still do
So when Dolly got off the trailer and the herd went nuts, so did I.  The flood of memories was topped only by the flush of excitement.  Years ago, I wrote a chapter in a book and described my lust for this particular horse with her pretty movement and her frizzy brain hairs and my wise decision to let someone else have her, a nod to my aging corpus and her need for thrills.  She scared the bejeesus out of me!  As it turned out, no suitable (by my daughter’s standards) buyer popped up, and Dolly stuck around for nearly 17 years.  How ironic that the horse I thought would be beyond my abilities a decade ago is now, when I’m a decade older (not wiser by any means), crankier, creakier, and less energetic, she’s mine after all!  

So twitter-pated I may be and I’m totally okay with that.  There won’t be any four-foot jumps in Dolly’s life from here on, but we’ll find a middle ground somewhere between my lame dressage work and her lust for the Big Time, and if a couple of cross-rails happen to be in the way, we’ll do that, too.  

Sometimes the best of the past is still ahead of us.

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