Yesterday, for the first time since my (first) surgery I tacked up a horse and I rode. Granted, she is an old mare, with some age related lameness in her rear legs but she's a steady Eddie pro and a safe bet for my first mount. I had a lesson under my dear friend who tormented my legs with all sorts of two point exercises and short bursts of trot.
My husband had puppies when I told him I was going to take my first lesson. He has been my caretaker and closest friend through all of this and has seen the depth of my weakness and knows how far I have to travel yet. Still, my surgeon gave me his full release and there's a chance that, if I can ride again, I won't be so crazed and cranky. Even with that behind me hubby was not happy, resigned yes, but definitely not happy. To live with me you must accept the things you cannot change.
Since I was a girl I have been horse crazy. Helping my friends take care of their horses in exchange for an occasional ride, paying for lessons, working like a slave in some fancy barns where I learned to fling poo, maintain tack, groom and listened to trainers talking about horses. I read all horse books obsessively: My Friend Flicka, Misty of Chincotegue (the whole series), the Godolphin Arabian, the Black Stallion, horse encyclopedias and breed anthologies. I have been kicked, stomped, run over, bitten and just generally roughed up by the objects of my affection with no derogatory effect. I have kept that fire burning, optimistic that one day I would be a horse owner.
Life gave me that opportunity at age 45, when I brought home Chrome, the most beautiful horse I and anyone else had ever seen. This horse was a supermodel, splendid in every way except one: he had an unsolvable respiratory issue and so back he went. My second horse was Murphy, a Trekehner/Warmblood schoolmaster, but we didn't get along in the saddle, his movement was huge and I am quite little. Incapable of generating equally measured movement. I thought time and work would solve our issues but they didn't, and nearly three years later I donated him to a girls college equestrian team that I am very familiar with, and where I knew he would receive great care and affection. I could not sell him to a stranger.
Which leads us to Dee, my little appaloosa mare. She is coming along phenomenally well under her fabulous trainer and is gaining balance while making some baby steps toward collection. Riding her is like climbing the Empire State building to me, but it is a goal I am working toward ever day I get a chance to ride another horse. My poor husband would rather I just give up this foolishness, but I can't. My love for this is an elemental part of who I am and when I ride, I link myself to a brave girl who caught the city bus to arrive at the barn(s) for 5:00 a.m. chores, taking another bus to High School with mud on her shoes, determined to survive another day of teenaged angst, and make her life into something of her own design.
My life has been a life of long term goals born in a wild heart. I am not sure if it is the goals or the undomesticated nature of my heart that have made me so determined frankly, but whatever it is it has served me well because I am still going strong. I wanted to live, then to live to ride my horse, and now just to ride my horse.