horse petting therapy
Apartment Therapy reading therapy
lying down therapy
slow motion garden therapy
novel reading therapy
hot beverage and comedy therapy
So you get the idea.
I sat on my horse the other day. This was a huge event. At times, when things in general are pretty okay, it's normal to be on a horse several times every week. They're not always long rides, but I have tried to get on each horse at least twice a week. Sometimes I rode two in one day. Sometimes rode one horse twice. It's not an impossible schedule and nowhere near what a professional trainer would put in, but it kept the horses and me in decent shape. And now I look back, now when things are, in general, pretty okay in terms of yes I am still alive and I can leave the house regularly … I'm looking back and wondering why I berated myself for not riding enough. It was never enough. Not enough training, not enough barn cleaning, not enough gardening, not enough dishes and laundry and housework being done.
You know how long it was since my last ride?
It's not the first time I've had a long time off. Basically, extreme winters, a couple bouts of mental illness (I blame the drugs) and two pregnancies. I have been enjoying my horses, relieved to not be working. I worry about the loss of income, but I don't bring that into the barn with me. They always seem happy to see me and I love any moment I have with them. I'm feeling better enough now that it's been really bugging me that I'm not sitting on a horse.
I got Selina to saddle Phoenix for me. She saddled Copper for herself. Copper doesn't deal well with time off -- she is a horse who is always better with regular work to get the energy levelled out -- but Phoenix is the kind of horse you can leave in the field like he's retired, and he's the same. He's consistent and reliable. Above all, I trust him. Maybe I shouldn't. I mean, can we trust any horse, really? And we did have our difficulties a few years ago. But I go out to the barn, and his eyes and ears are on me. I rub his forehead, which always seems to be right there in front of me. He blinks his big eyes at me, slowly, and I know I'm crazy but I feel like he's giving me this vibe that he knows I'm weak right now, and he'll take care of me.
I dragged myself into the saddle. It used to be easy. I settled in and remembered that last summer I was getting accustomed to this new saddle with its high cantle and deep seat. The fenders aren't worked in yet; I had to reach down to get my feet in and the world tilted too much. It was all very weird. The ground was far away. I didn't understand how this could be so familiar, something I've done all my life, and yet so foreign.
(Is THIS how it is to sit on a horse for the first time?)
I wasn't planning on going anywhere. I intended to literally just sit there. Phoenix didn't move. I rubbed his neck. He rested a hoof, I felt insecure, pressed my foot into his side, and he set on all four again. Meanwhile Selina and Copper were practicing backing up and taking little steps forward without any head flinging or bit worrying or foot stamping, while keeping her in view of the geldings. We'll work on the herd bound thing later. Basically, she was convincing the little mare that everything is okay and there's no need to be so anxious. Eventually we all stood there with sideways ears. Even Parker, tied in the barn, rested a hoof and closed his eyes. The anxious mare and the weak shaky anxious depressed woman were calm.
Selina put up her horse and came to get me. She put a hand on my left leg while I pulled my right over the cantle and paused with my chest on the seat. Why is this so hard? This is like breathing. How many times have I gabbed the horn, popped both feet out of the stirrups and flung myself out of a saddle, landing on both feet lightly with the reins in one hand? Like it was nothing. And now I was clinging to the side of my horse, waiting for the dizziness to pass, feeling around for the bench to put my right foot on before pulling the left one out of the stirrup?
Phoenix was a rock. With both feet on the ground, I reached my arms around his thick neck and pressed my cheek on his speckled coat. I took a deep breath and let it out.
It was both wonderful and disappointing to sit on my horse. It was better than not sitting on my horse.
I'm going to try it again, as soon as I can.
Regardless of my mental state or physical condition, there is stuff going on. All I'm going to say is that THINGS ARE CHANGING and I don't even know what but it's in motion. Did you know that nothing is permanent? None of us are permanent. Neither are our problems. I have to remind myself of that. I'm not a follower of horoscopes but I happened to look at this one and took it as a reality check. Yep, I'm getting reality checks from constellations now. Seems about right?