Horses are, in a nutshell, extremely therapeutic to one's soul. It is amazing the way life can become so trivial when you surrender yourself to being at the mercy of a 1200 pound animal. They exude so much power and grace, and ultimately are the most tender creatures if you consider how much harm they could cause us if they weren't inherently good-natured.
I have established this new method of "bonding" with my ponies. Now, spare me the lecture, because I know it isn't the safest thing, but I'm not going around hopping on everyone in this manner... Anyhow. I have been hopping up on Samson to lay bareback while he munches on his hay. Last night I literally sprawled across him and massaged him while he munched beneath me. It is the most peaceful place I can escape to in my chaotic little world, and when I lay there, it is as if he and I are the only creatures on earth. It makes me feel like that 17 year old kid again...the one who used to sneak down into the barn late at night to lay on my first horse's back, or simply cuddle up in a corner of his stall, just to be close to him. In these moments, it is as if I haven't aged a day, and I am still just a horse-crazy kid, looking to fill the neverending craving to be close to a pony.
My, how things have changed. Now I am an adult, and with that comes so many more issues. Bills, responsibilities, a roof over my head, animals to care for, a husband to keep happy, family obligations to satisfy...the list is endless at times, and I never seem to accomplish everything I set out to do. But I can still snuggle with my pony. For those precious fifteen minutes, I can curl up in a cocoon of warmth, filled with the smell of hay, fresh shavings, the sounds of munching and whuffling, and an occassional nicker. In these moments, I am one with the horse world, and chaos disappears. Life is whole.
Speaking of chaos - my weekend was filled with it, but it was wonderful. My little sister is an incredibly talented budding photographer who recently moved to Florida to further her education. She came up Friday night to use our barn as the centerpiece for her final project for the semester, and Saturday morning we hit the barn early to start shooting. She was our invisible paparazzi all day long, snapping pictures of hand-grazing, of the barn, of people grooming, and finally, of our riding. I had an awesome ride. April and I jumped BOTH sets of tire jumps on the property and had an absolute blast each time! Then we set up a stadium fence to school and ended up jumping 3 feet! She tends to get a little cranked up when the height starts climbing, so we aren't going to push the height issue, but rather focus on keeping fences calm and steady at this point. Sunday morning we headed to the barn early again to finish up with the photography project. Courtney needed us to do actual portrait shots, so we had to do a little bit of posing. Of course this ended with the usual America's Next Top Model jokes about "schmizing" and "fierce!"-ness. Let me tell you, there were plenty of laughs going around! But it ended up being a total blast, and not bad when we were posing with ponies. It's easy to interact with them. It is MUCH more difficult to pose by ourselves!
After the little sis left town, we headed over to Kelsey's on horseback to meet her and Jamey for a trail ride on a great piece of land nearby. What a clan we made - the advanced level eventer, steeplechase jockey, fearless-wonder-that-is-Robyn, and ME - aka, the gutless wonder. HOW did I end up in this group again?? I'm still shaking my head over that one.
Nevertheless, the next hour and a half was an absolute blast. We cantered around a huge open stretch of land, without a border in sight. We wandered through wooded trails, across a wide creek with running water, up a fairly steep bank, across a ditchy-creek crossing, and hopped numerous fallen logs. It was total heaven. April had a mini meltdown after really getting rolling over a few fallen logs in a row. It seems that the more she goes over, the more excited she becomes. Other than that brief moment, she was a superstar. We had one of the most amazing canters out in the open field. We went from a little hand-gallop into a soft, long, low canter. It is an amazing feeling to see wide open land in front of you, nothing in your way, and to feel the steady rhythm of hoofbeats beneath you in perfect sync.
So that was the weekend in a nutshell, and I've already filled you in on last night's snuggle time with my sweet kids. I had a snuggle moment with April too - how amusing! She was definitely not expecting her kooky owner to jump on her back in a stall. She was startled, to say the least. I have to say, I have eliminated her from too much bareback snuggling however...Samson is far more snuggly due to his not-so-girlish figure. Horses are so good for the soul.
A sneak preview of my photography session...hopefully the actual prints will arrive soon!