I don’t ride for the perfect distance. Don’t get me wrong they are great and wonderful. Like Christmas morning and the last day of school warm and fuzzy wonderful. But perfect distances don’t drive me. Don’t drive me to wake up pre dawn and ride two horses and do barn work before an eight hour day at work. They don’t motivate me to spend every vacation day sleep deprived and sore from spending multiple long weekends at show grounds. Because while the perfect round looks great hanging framed on my wall it isn’t the real reason.
It’s that split second moment when I’m 5 strides out and I see I’ve miscalculated our spot. I flat out missed it to be honest. In that moment I must put my hands down, wrap my legs around my horse, hang on, and trust. And something absolutely magical happens in this split second space of time. My horse puffs up, ears pricked to the cause, and just takes me.
She says, “It’s ok Mom I’ve got this one. You just sit up there and hang on and I will get you safely to the other side. You can always count on me!”
And then we land on the other side…together. We shake that off, gallop on and tackle our next challenge hopefully better and more educated because of my error. We move forward together because my horse doesn’t hold my mistake against me. What a great metaphor for life riding offers us.
Somehow I’ve been able to communicate with a 1,200 pound animal with her own brain and own heartbeat. Who would rather be grazing out in the middle of a prairie grass field than packing my butt around a two plus mile varied terrain course jumping 20 plus fixed and immovable jumps in the process.
And for that moment we speak the same language. We own the same goal. My heart swells with admiration and humility that my horse even allows me that privilege. That’s a special kind of peace and happiness. We borrow way more than freedom when we ride.
No, it’s those imperfect distances that make the long and exhausting hours spent in the saddle and barn honing my skills worthwhile to me. Those times when I have to completely trust something other than myself to keep me safe and intact. It centers me and restores my faith. Life is hard and full of disappointments but life also goes on. I just prefer for mine to move forward on the back of my horse.
And you can’t frame and hang that kind of resolve.
That’s why I ride.