I was a late bloomer, when it came to the schoolgirl obsession with horses: I didn’t start riding until my early 30s, long after a fear of heights — and falling — had set in. So it was with some trepidation that I took up jumping.
Two things scared me about jumping. First, the horse had to build up a certain amount of momentum (read: speed) to make it over the obstacle. Second, being on a horse that was airborne meant I was even farther off the ground.
Still, I overcame my fear long enough to take on some pretty tall jumps. And that’s how I came to fracture my pelvis while trying to clear an almost 6-foot (1.8-metre) fence. I still remember the quizzical expression on the horse’s face as he came back around to check on me. “What are you doing down there?” he seemed to be asking.
That was back in 2004. The pelvis grew back, and I continued my visits to my horse-friend, Keeper. But the desire to ride never came back … until today.
Today I had the honor of watching my friend Heather (and her horse Mikey) win her division’s championship in a local competition. I was in awe of Heather’s poise as she led Mikey through the course; she and Mikey seemed to be one.
It’s that sense of partnership with a horse I miss most. There’s something indescribable about building a bond with an animal that could easily crush you — and then channeling his power and feeling as if it’s yours. It’s a bond that transcends logic and language; it’s a bond you just feel.
I came home gushing about Heather’s great showing. “Are you going to take up riding again?” my husband Esteban asked casually. “Naw, I don’t think so,” I answered. It’s expensive. My hips aren’t as flexible as they used to be. I don’t have the time anymore, or the discipline.
But just for a couple of hours, it was fun to smell the familiar barn smells. It was wonderful to run my hand along Mikey’s neck and feel his strength. It was lovely to be back in the world of horses — and their girls.
Here are a couple of parting shots. Hasta mañana …