30 pictures, thirty days… but someone forgot to tell me that I’d be reliving the trauma of nearly a year ago. If I were to be reincarnated as an animal, it would be a deer. A deer with a panicked look on its face, trying to figure out why there’s suddenly hard grey footing with a yellow stripe running down the middle. Trouble looming at me at 55 miles a hour? I freeze in place. Not the best coping mechanism for cervids or humans.
I froze. The good news? I’m tucked into an obscure corner of the internet. I have the freedom to thaw out slowly.
But I did a foolish thing. So foolish. After a night of my brain refusing to sleep, refusing to drop the matter at hand and let me rest, along with intestines that screamed, Crisis! We must evacuate! every half hour, I was exhausted and foggy headed.
Don’t do what I did the next day. Hop on a horse.
My sweet gelding had to be put to sleep in May. Milagro was the most ordinary looking horse, a chestnut like tens of thousands of stocky red horses. He didn’t know much and he was terrified of farriers and it was up to me to do an inexpert job of keeping his hooves filed. But that horse never minded my fears and insecurities. Riding him with my friends down a wash lined with cottonwood trees was one of the greatest joys of my life. Putting him down was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
I bought another horse. A good horse. But not a match for me. I sold him within two months. We moved my husband’s horse to another barn where I thought I could make a fresh start, learn new things.
My husband’s horse is beautiful. And when people describe their horses as beautiful first and foremost, chances are very good there’s something else about that animal. And there is. He looks like Black Beauty but he’s spooky as hell. Kind- not a mean bone in his body, but the least thing can make him do The Time Warp. “It’s just a jump to the left”. He springs like a cat when scared.
New barn means strange surroundings, strange horses, strange smells. The horse is amazingly good for my husband, the animal magnet. He’s cheerful and confident and his horse picks up on that.
I am wrung out, scared and tired. And the horse picked up on that, too. I was such a mess my husband thought that maybe 15 minutes in the arena, going around in a safe area, might take my mind off of matters.
I got my helmet. Shortened the stirrups. Led the horse to the mounting block. And noticed immediately that he was on edge. My husband was sitting on a step stool in the arena and as we circled counterclockwise the horse caught sight of my husband in what appeared to be a crouching position. And he did what he does when afraid.
He went one way. I went the other. The next thing I remember was gasping in the gravel, mumbling nonsensically “I can’t move, I can’t move…!” as I waved my arms and legs in the dirt.
I didn’t hit my head, but my shoulders, ribs and hip took a hard hit. So did my confidence in riding horses.
The combination of worry and pain and discouragement has not made for a pleasant month. I refuse to remain in the doldrums. I pulled out my watercolor supplies and I am getting back to work at my art table. I miss my friends and my sweet old horse- but I called to see if volunteers are needed at a therapeutic riding facility. They are.
Life is settling down into a quiet rhythm once again. When the rib cage pain fades, I’ll start back up again, in lessons, on a quiet school horse.