A Warm and Wet Christmas Eve

The view from Pipers back.  That's Jon in the carriage getting a ride with Brian.
The view from Pipers back. That’s Jon in the carriage riding with Brian.

I had to stand on the bed of the truck just to get my foot in the stirrup.   That’s how far off the ground it was.  Pamela asked me if I was okay sitting behind the saddle.  Bareback, in a way, except that Pamela was on the saddle and I was riding behind her.  With nothing to hold onto, I got a bit stuck, but there were enough people around to push and pull me so I could sit up.  It was raining and Piper, the giant grey Percheron mare that I just climbed up on, was patient and forgiving. I haven’t ridden many horses in my life, but the last time we visited Pamela and Paul at Blue Star Equiculture, Pamela asked if I wanted to ride Piper.  You see, me and Piper had bonded, I felt it and Pamela saw it.  And this is a lot of what Pamela does, she hooks people up with horses and horses up with people.

So this visit, when she asked me if I wanted to ride Piper, I did, but I also know that I don’t  know how to ride a horse.  Especially one whose back I can just barely reach to brush, even on tip-toes.  That’s how I found myself sitting behind the saddle, holding onto Pamela.  Like I said, it was raining, so I expected to feel Pipers wet back under me, except it wasn’t wet I felt, but warm.  And every move she made, I felt.  And when she walked, it was as if I was walking.  And the few times she trotted, I held on with my legs and tried, unsuccessfully, to move with her.

When we got back to the barn, Pam jumped off Piper and I moved up onto the saddle and rode her back to the gate by myself.  She knew where to go.  Then Paul held onto her while I slid down her side.  I felt like my feet would never reach the ground, I just kept sliding and sliding, her back is so high up, especially for someone like me who is only 5″2′.

Once off Piper, I realized that my pants and jacket were soaked through with rain.  But I hadn’t been cold a moment on the ride.

Ever since Rocky I’ve had this on-again, off-again relationship with horses.  It feels like there’s something there for me, but for some reason, I find myself pushing it away. There’s a part of me that feels being around and even riding horses is the most natural thing in the world for me to do.  But another part of me feels insecure and afraid.   I’m cautious about getting too involved with them. But then, it seems,  the horses keep coming back.  I think when I allow it, the horses will open something up inside of me.  Something that scares me about myself. I guess I’ll get there when I’m ready.

9 thoughts on “A Warm and Wet Christmas Eve

  1. You have described this beautifully. I know exactly what you mean when you write “And when she walked, it was as if I was walking.” I have mobility issues, use a walker now. I visited a friend in Blue Diamond, NV who has a horse. She is someone who used horse therapy after breaking her pelvis and had urged me to come and try some supervised exercises on a horse named Angel. At that time I only needed a cane. It is exactly as you state. It was if I was walking – the movement of the horse’s hips allowed my own body to feel that movement. There was a ramp to get up onto Angel’s back. It was such a liberating experience. My friend directed me in several exercises to help my balance – exercises she had done many years before in her therapy. What freedom I felt. When we left I found I was walking better, standing up straighter. Too bad she lives in NV as I have not done that here in Philadelphia. I would benefit from more sessions. It was quite an experience – powerful and Angel was very gentle. I relived my experience with Angel by reading this wonderful post. Thank you for writing about this.

  2. “Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and once it has done so, he will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

    I can’t imagine life without my horses. Through my work with them, I discover and define my true self. Horses are spirit guides, divine creatures who take us on the journeys we need most.

    When someone tells me I have an expensive “hobby,” it always feels a bit offensive. I know those folks don’t mean to be rude — it’s difficult for them to understand the flow of energy that occurs in the presence of horses. Yup, I understand that keeping a large critter takes money. On the flip side, I don’t spend a dime on spas, trendy haircuts, or designer clothes. Heck, I don’t allocate hardly any cash on me at all!

    Give me hay in my hair, sawdust in my boots and jeans, broken fingernails, road apples to pick, and the sensory delights of being in the presence of a good horse. There is no finer HEAVEN.

  3. I have been riding for a while I was there that day in the picture. Even with a rainy day riding can make my day, horses are such beautiful and majestic creatures and always have a open heart. The don’t always listen but that’s just to add on to there complexity as an animal.

  4. Maria how wonderful! I’ve always looked at my time with horses both riding and driving as a wonderful dance. You have to learn the steps and it’s great fun! John Wayne has a wonderful quote that goes like this “courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway!” I’ve had my heart in my throat many times and it’s the most exhilarating feeling in the world to say “I did it!”

  5. Maria: This is the first time I have entered the world of social media (besides websites for my dogs and teaching sites). I have been cautious; however, I felt a pull towards the ‘Loving Animals’ group. I signed up…and entered the FaceBook world. Not at all sure what that means or if I am ready. Even more, when I read your blog posts, I somehow felt safe. I cried when I read about the ‘push-pull’ or mix of emotions with your relationship with horses. The words resonated strongly with my own heart. We have two stunning miniature horses, an awesome guardian donkey and a big hearted Tennessee Walker. I have wanted horses all my life, and now that they are blessing us, I feel very tentative, even frightened at times…about going ‘all the way in’ with them. Alternatively, I feel guilty when giving attention to one (or one of my dogs) and not the others. It seems my joy is somehow stolen by a deep dark and very lonely place inside. I feel like I am somehow cheating everyone of something special, including myself. I feel quite silly posting these words, unsaid to people I know, to someone I do not (and others). Forgive me is this is an inappropriate posting. I am not sure of the boundaries in this new world. Thank you for hearing me and for you & Jon’s work for this planet. I wish you a wonder-filled New Year.

    1. I know you’re not alone in your feelings Lise. Because as you say, I feel that push and pull with horses. I’m thinking more and more it’s about opening up and trust. Neither easy for me to do. Guess we’re both in this “horse process” and I have a feeling we’re not alone.

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