animal wisdom fear girls and horses horse wisdom horses reincarnation wisdom of animals Jun 27, 2023
Two horses grazing with women sitting on them

I was going to title this "I Go To Extremes", but then I'd have to give a nod to Billy Joel's great song - which I'll do anyway, because I love Billy Joel's music. Thanks, Bill. You're always an inspiration.

So what am I talking about? An extreme by my definition can be anything that is outside your comfort zone. For some people, that's extreme sports - bungeeing jumping, tightrope walking between two very tall buildings, the black trails on a ski hill.

Photo by Pixabay

This is not me.

An extreme sport for me, at this time in my life, is getting on a horse. I'm over 70 (I KNOW - it's so hard to believe!), plus I take an anticoagulant, and if I were to tell my doctor I was going back to riding he'd probably have a coronary on the spot. Must. Keep. Me. Safe. That means he'd probably frown if I got on a bicycle, but at least it doesn't have a mind of its own. Strangely, I can go a lot faster on a bike than I wish to on the back of a horse. Does that make it more dangerous? Probably, except the bike won't suddenly decide a stick on the ground is a snake and start dancing and bucking. I can make the bike go slower by pedaling less. Not so much on a horse.


Photo by Sebastian Arie Voortman

I've had my fair share of hair-raising horseback rides - the time when the boy whose pony I was riding twisted the reins under the pony's neck. Poor Red. I was giving him all the wrong signals, so in despair he ran back to his safe place - his barn. It unfortunately had a door only wide enough for him, so my knees got pretty banged up. He also ran away with me once, in a huge field, and although I was able to circle him and finally get him to stop, it set up a fear of being in big open areas on the back of an equine in my 11-year-old brain that 60-some years later I still haven't shaken.

In my early 20's I had a horse I trusted enough to take on trail rides through big open areas, and we used to race a thoroughbred that lived at our house, from the bottom of a hill back up to our house. My 15 hand* (tiny) grade (no fancy breeding here) gelding, Sunny, was not only cute, he was speedy. We beat that thoroughbred. Do I want to go that fast on a horse now? Pass.

Me and Sunny practicing speed. It only looks like a helmet; those are curlers. 

Lucky for our side I love ring work. For some people, this is a huge yawner, but I love the concentration and precision required in doing a dressage test. I suppose indoor (or in a fenced arena) obstacles could be fun too.

So here I am, 70-something, missing my mare Wilma who I learned to trust as much as Sunny - I would love to have her, or someone like her (and Sunny) back in my life. Probably more like her; she didn't require constant nagging to move, but hated to go faster than a trot, so we were well suited to one another. I've talked with her about returning. But here's the thing.

I want to spend time with whoever this horse is, and the question I always ask myself is "would I?" Would I take the time to go out to the barn 4 or 5 days a week to hang with the equine and ultimately go for little rides? Our horses live on our property and there are always things to do that don't involve a saddle. All the little things that are done for you in a boarding barn (like feeding and cleaning and repairing and bringing the horses in and out and dragging the arena) we do ourselves. This is not interaction - it's the real work that happens when you have a barn, and are all things I actually enjoy doing.  


Me and Wilma going for a ride with some other horses (not pictured). She was a purebred Friesian, but small and baroque. Perfect size and shape. 

We have three horses now, two of whom we choose not to ride because of age for one and temperament for the other, and the third who has her own agenda which looks nothing like what I want to do on the back of a horse. She's a firecracker, that one. The wide open spaces are for her. Put her in an arena and she's miserable. Plus, she's big (by my standards. My friends with 17 hand warmbloods would consider her 15.2 wide-body self a midget).

As I said, I've talked with Wilma about re-establishing a physical connection. As she got older (she left the planet at age 26, old for a Friesian), she didn't really want to be ridden any more, and I KNOW I didn't spend enough time with her. She was a great coach, and unless we were working with a client, or it was feeding time, she mostly hung out in the pasture with the other horses. Did she mind? She says she accepted it. But she is my best spiritual friend. We've been through lots of lives and adventures together, and I feel like I left her standing in the grasses while I did whatever it was I was doing that wasn't really that important. I don't want to do that to her again.


This girl is a hard act to follow.

She's said she would come back again, for me. She feels no need to have another lifetime right now. If I can't give her what I feel she deserves (a partner who is truly present), I don't want her to do that. She agrees. Maybe that's the lesson.

And I don't want to give any other rideable horse the cold shoulder, either. If someone comes to me who is a riding horse, who loves ring work, and is not particularly obsessed with speed, I want to be able to focus on that horse for the long run, until we both say "enough, let's just hang out together and forget the riding part." Then we'll hang out, and if the horse wants to coach, it will coach. If not, we'll just hang out.

Will I do that? I don't know. My track record isn't great, especially when the horses are living at home. Meanwhile, the years pile up. Guess I'd better keep myself in shape, and my helmet polished, just in case. (And don't tell my doctor!)




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