There is something I learned. I have allowed my mind to rule itself. I do not actively think of what I’m doing, I just do it. I want to actually think about what actions I take. For instance, today while driving I found myself swearing at other drivers because of impatience. I stopped and said whoa to myself. What the hell was I doing? There was no reason to be angry at other drivers. So what if they were driving slow; so what if they crowded others; so what if they shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car! It doesn’t matter to me. I just go on and put my mind in a quiet place and think about the act of driving. I arrived at the barn with a quiet mind, which carried over to my treatment of the horses, and to my relaxing body. On the way home, I realized that while I was with the horses I did not think of anything except exactly what I was doing with them. I was already meditating without knowing I was. I was mindful only of what and who I was with. What is mindfulness to me when I have horses to bring me peace. Of course, it did help that I started out in a good state of mind.
Last weekend I went to a sensory clinic and discovered that I can do more than I thought. I rode Reo in an equitation class, where he behaved as good as, if not better than, most (except for a skittish part where he thought he was being left behind), and then we were the best at some of the tasks. Then we went on to a drill team concept group, and he did splendidly. We led, then we followed, and we trotted, and trotted, and trotted. God, I didn’t think it was ever going to end. But, by golly, my knees felt great, my body felt great, but my “crotch” hurt like hell. Lots of sitting trots, then posting trots, then sitting trots. Once the drill team part was over, it was time to acclimate him to the weird items in the arena where we had been riding. He absolutely loved the damn giant beach ball — it was bigger than he was. He nosed it, pushed it, shoved it, and I finally laughed. The final class was an obstacle course, and that one I failed. He passed, but only because one of the instructors “taught” him to do what was requested. No abuse of any kind, just determination. Obviously, I have work to do on that, but only if I care to do it. At any rate, I did not realize how much the weekend had taken out of me — mostly from my nerves — and I was truly exhausted for at least three days. Is that because I am old? Or is is it because it was a strenuous day? Not sure, but now that I am rested, I am ready to try something like that again.
You know, I’m not sure why I still ride horses. I surely do love the animals themselves, and I could not bear the thought of not spending time with them. However, I do not like the extra pains my body goes through after I dismount. The other problem is having a certain amount of fear spoiling a lovely ride. Every time the horse startles, or trips, or looks askance at an object, my heart does an extra beat. I know he must feel that anxiety, and perhaps that’s why he’s not so perfect when I spend time on his back. Then again, how am I to move forward with my life and the fact that I am no longer youthful? Of course, I must still continue riding, and take the chance that a fall might occur. I can only assume the fall will be “gentle” and no bones will be broken; I cannot worry about this happening. I have this lovely Paint gelding that is a dream to work with on the ground. I have absolutely no nervous demeanor when I am with this big black and white horse, working the lunge line or lead line. But, and that’s a big but, I can’t seem to totally get rid of the nerves when I am mounted. Being stubborn, as I am, I will overcome this and enjoy riding — especially this Fall with the beautiful colors and pleasant temperatures.
I was a child. I still had a father and a mother. I pause to remember being in the basement with my father watching him work on a wooden bench. He smiled. He tossled my hair. His shining black hair and startling blue eyes looked upon me with warmth and love, and I felt safe and happy. He was not as he seemed.
My mother shook me violently from the bed. She grabbed a blanket, wrapped it around my small shoulders, and pulled me out the door of our 2nd floor apartment. Smoke filled the rooms as we fled. My older cousin, Janet, cried as mother hollered at her to leave the apartment. We stood outside in the morning rain as the firemen shot water onto the burning building. Flames rose from the windows, engulfing our small home. But we were safe. My father was not with us — where was he?
I later learned the fire had been started by him, as he casually tossed a cigarette onto the floor and let it burn. He was a drunk, they said, and didn’t know what he had done. We loved him, we forgave him. And life moved on.