Break Out Moment

Two complete shoulder replacements and a hip replacement later the thought of riding tickled at my heart.  My horse is almost twenty-six years old.  Would she be okay with it?  I’m in my seventy-second year and haven’t been astride in two years.  Was I kidding myself?

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“Break out Moment,” a prompt used in our writer’s group – Women Writers at The Well.  The prompt came as an entrance into exactly what I want to share in the moment.

The last time I got on a horse I literally crawled and was pushed, gently and tactfully, but pushed nonetheless, on board.  I had no strength in my arms, no support in my legs.  I knew I would never ride again.

I mourned the loss of that life, a passionate life-time horsewoman, but in time became reconciled to the loss.  I sold my truck and horse trailer and rehomed the younger of my two horses.  I cried in deep grief listening to Dave Stamey sing “Come Ride With Me.”

Two complete shoulder replacements and a hip replacement later the thought of riding tickled at my heart.  My horse is almost twenty-six years old.  Would she be okay with it?  I’m in my seventy-second year and haven’t been astride in two years.  Was I kidding myself?

I contacted my adopted granddaughter, Kaylee, and we agreed on a time.  She would be there for moral, emotional and physical support.

Sparkle Plenty stood to be saddled as though no time had passed.  She swished her tail as she always has, flicked her ear and stood.  Two tries accomplished getting the saddle in place.  A little ground warm-up helped to loosen the old mares joints.  I led her to the mounting block, positioning her so that the stirrup was in easy reach.  With hesitancy and held breath I put my left foot in the stirrup, took hold of her mane and the off side of the saddle and lifted myself, my right leg not quite getting high enough to clear the cantle and her rump.  Kaylee helped my leg find its way and my right foot found the stirrup.  I started to breathe.

I’m not going to say that first ride was perfection, but it was.  My right leg was stiff, heel not wanting to reach down.  My hips were tight, looking for the flexing comfort and flow that was their experience.  Scar tissue in my back from a ten year old surgery restricted the fluidity of rhythm.  Sparkle and I were together in the new dynamic.  Her hoof steps slow and careful, my body seeking the remembered harmony of joined movement.  It was perfect.

The following day I was able to lift my leg over, not with the smooth grace of yesteryear, but accomplishing the goal just the same.  My leg lengthened, hips softened, back loosened.  And as we (Sparkle and I) were returning from a short walk around the pasture Sparkle’s shoulders and hips also loosened and she reached into her “happy” walk, sending a thrill of joy through my entire being.  We are not done.  We are beginning – again.

I originally started this blog to share my point of view of the horse/human/spirit relationship.  My plan was and is to write a book.  I was hoping for more discussion regarding other people’s point of view and experience in relationship to the topics I brought to the blog.  Obviously I was not clear in this intention.  It is now time for me to turn my attention to the book.  I very much hope to hear what readers have to say regarding the horse/human relationship in all its forms.  Thank you for sharing in my journey.

Lynnea

SPARKLE PLENTY

My horse is the concrete connection
To the abstract of my soul.
Like Pegasus flying Icarus to the sun
She carries me to the outreaches of my world
Dropping piles of care and concern along the way.
She is Sparkle Plenty, namesake to the beautiful
Bad girl in the Dick Tracey comic strip.
Even as a newborn foal life pored from her like sunrays.
The genetics of grey and age bring the glitter
Of diamond dust to her shiny coat.
Her ears stand sentinel straight when she hears my call
And she answers with a whooping welcome whinny.
Like me she has some arthritis, some wisdom and some silliness.

me and Spark 002

 

 

 

Where I Am Now

Sitting at my computer thinking today is a day I would be riding my Sparkle Plenty.  The leaves are red and gold, new green is spreading across earth dampened from autumn rain, air crisp, invigorating… a deep inhale of the exuberant breath of the season.  I am not riding.  I am at the computer.  I haven’t ridden for a year.  Due to the physical changes of lives long and well lived Sparkle Plenty and I are retired.  The fluidity of body is crystallizing.  She is twenty-five years old and I am seventy-one in just over a month.  Even as our bodies stiffen our spirits expand.  I go out to the pasture and she greets me with ears erect, eyes alive with expectation of goodies and grooming, head held high in anticipation and then she canters, a bit stiff legged, up to my heart.  I love this horse, I have loved her from her birth.  I and my beloved recently returned from a first time trip to the Hawaiian Island of Kauai and I did not feel grounded until I hugged my Sparkle Plenty and I rested my head on her rump listening to the rhythmic sound of her chewing the grass hay I brought her.

Tom Dorrance writes in True Unity, “Often when working with riders and their horses, I will mention the need for self-preservation; this to me includes the physical and the mental – and a third factor.  I’ve been trying for some time to think of words to get this third factor to where it comes to light; to show how it blends in with the other two – physical and the mental.  It is the least mentioned, but I am beginning to believe it is the most important factor to recognize: the rider needs to recognize the horse’s need for self-preservation in Mind, Body and the third factor, Spirit.  He needs to realize what that means to the horse so he can benefit from what it is in the horse, what it means to the horse.  He needs to realize how the person’s approach can assure the horse that he can have his self preservation and still respond to what the person is asking him to do.  This is going to be a useful thing to both the person and the horse.”

Spirit – is it not spirit and freedom in spirit manifested in horse that first brought us front and center into the world of horses?  Are stories still written as they were when I became enamored of horse spirit?  The Stories of indomitable spirit and heart when horse and human were brought together in immense challenge and  companionship?  Marguerite Henry, Sam Savitt, Walter Farley, Will James, C.W. Anderson and of course the all time classic Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.  Spirit comes first.  We just forget in the process of learning the mechanics of tools and integrating tools with living beings.  We are the tool maker, we harness power with tools.  And so we learn about harnessing the power of horse with the implementation of halters, ropes, bits and bridles, saddles and cinches.  Which bit to use when, what saddle works best for the job at hand, how should weight be distributed? And the horse is to stand still while we work out the correct type and use of the tools we have created until the horse itself becomes a tool to be manipulated.  “Just livestock,” as one person said to me.

We are living, thankfully, in a time when horse spirit is being validated.  Explorers of this new relationship include: the McCormick Family, authors of Horse Sense and the Human Heart and Horses and the Mystical Path;  Linda Kohanov, author of The Tao of Equus and Riding Between the Worlds; Mark Rashid, author of A Horse Never Lies and Considering the Horse.   At the leading edge of research into the horse human relationship are the Therapeutic Equine Programs, especially EGALA, Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association  with many certified Equine Assisted Psychotherapy programs across the US.

My passion for horses is still there but showing up at a new level of relationship and spirit.  I peruse the old books and stories and explore new stories and horse-human dynamics.  I find connection in all of it and the connection is SPIRIT.  Sparkle’s spirit and my spirit have danced and embraced over time, place, and life changes.  When I lean into her warmth, her energy, her soul, I wonder afterwards how I will ever live without her.

Sparkle Plenty