Life has a way of becoming crazed – despite our best intentions sometimes we find ourselves running full speed ahead from place to place, forgetting to live in the moment, taking no time out for the things that make us happy…
This is a constant struggle for me – there are only so many hours in the day and so many things that need to be done and like many working wives and mothers the first things to go by the wayside are the very things that keep me sane!
Like most little girls, I had always loved horses – or rather the idea of them – growing up in a flat in Belfast meant I rarely saw grass, never mind any actual animals. My family drove me out to the country every so often, so I did see farm animals close up occasionally – was led around on the obligatory donkey on the beach etc.
One memorable occasion, a old farmer tried to get my grandfather to buy me a donkey – I must have been around 6 years old. When asked where we were supposed to keep it – the old man said “the kitchen” LOL Given the fact that my mom wouldn’t let me have a dog or cat growing up I don’t think a donkey in our 4th floor concrete jungle’s kitchen was ever going to happen…besides I didn’t want a “donkey” I wanted a Palomino! Not that I had ever seen a real live Palomino – but I thought they were the most beautiful horses….
Fast forward many, many years, my husband and I were figuring out the family vacation for the year – wanting to show the boys the beauty of our National Parks we chose to go to Glacier and found an awesome place with cabins in the woods near Whitefish, Montana – Gaynor’s Ranch.
On a whim, to indulge my childhood fantasy, I made my men a deal – if we were staying on a ranch then they had to go on a trail ride with me! When the time came to make good on their end of the bargain, they were somewhat reluctant but dutifully came with me. The grizzled ranch hand looked us over a little mournfully when we admitted that none of us had any experience – I am quite sure he rolled his eyes and wondered how he had drawn the short straw again that morning.
He brought out 4 half dead asleep trail horses and showed us how to get on, get them to start and stop – pretty much unnecessary since these guys just followed the horse in front and had taken this same trail a bazillion times and really needed no directional assistance from us. But I didn’t care I was on a real live horse, riding a Montana trail and I was thrilled!
Our trail guide, who kept calling me “Sherry” had a steady stream of conversation going – eventually I gave up trying to correct him and just listened to his stories while enjoying the ride. Over the course of the 2 hour ride he started looking at me a little weird – I thought I must be doing something wrong…. Finally he asked me if I had a hobby back in Washington? Sure, I responded – waiting for the punch line.
“Well whatever it is, give it up and get yourself a horse – you are a natural” I think my jaw must have hit the trail floor – he then spent the rest of the ride telling me what sort of horse I should be on the lookout for when I got home as if this was all a done deal.
Afterwords, the kids kept asking if we were getting a horse now. “Of course not” I said but we went back the next day for a second longer trail ride…
Back in Washington, I came to the realization that I didn’t have to go all the way to Montana to ride a horse and despite being in my late 30’s there was no reason why I couldn’t learn a new trick and do something I really enjoyed. So I looked for a barn near my home that would give lessons. But no way I was buying a horse! That was crazy talk!
So every Wed night I went to the barn and rode a variety of horses – all beautiful, though none of them were a Palomino 🙂 Over time I decided that perhaps I should go ahead and lease a horse – that way I could ride much more often….. and so the slippery slope began. It wasn’t that long before I ended up buying a beautiful 4 year old 3/4 Arabian mare, chestnut with a long flaxen mane – not quite a Palomino but so much better because she was mine and the sweetest horse evah!
Fast forward a little more – several years of Natural Horsemanship at barn close to home in Washington, then a cross country move to Florida later – Pegasus (or Honey) has settled in beautifully at a fantastic barn – just not as close as I would like – where no one does that whole “natural thing” Other horse owners there look at me with kindly bemusement….
The goal is to buy a home with acreage so I can have her on the property and have tons more horse time. Horse time is different – things slow down – you have to be completely present and in the moment – there is no room for other thoughts and distractions. All the work or life stresses and politics melt away… Horses have no ulterior motive or agendas…they just want your love and leadership and maybe some of those yummy treats they know you keep in your pocket LOL
This week I finally spent some much needed time with my horse and even though it had been too long – she was happy to see me and was the perfect partner – calm, trusting and steady. So even though it is tough to find the time, I renewed the promise to her and myself…
I will make the time to do what I love and work on my relationship with my horse. It is an investment that pays dividends and one I can’t afford to ignore.