I rode my horse today! Geez, that used to be as noteworthy as "I took a shower today!" But, my life is now the property of my two sons, and they are often stingy in sharing it with others.
It was one of those days when the final school bell rang, despite knowing hubby was willing to watch the boys so I could ride, I was oozing around in my Friday lethargy wanting to pour myself onto the couch rather than prop myself up in the saddle. Riding is work. I was against work at that moment. I arrived at the barn half-hoping the arenas were too wet from yesterday's rain for riding--seriously, Laura, what the hell?
But then I took him out, tacked him up, lunged him, and putzed around the main ring.
It was our best ride ever.
It wasn't much of a ride, knowing what he's capable of and knowing what I'm capable of when I'm riding sound (I'm still healing from a moment of supreme stupid--but that's another post for another day), but we are getting each other. That synergy is what I have so missed since losing Ana. My ankle is finally healed enough that I'm less worried and distracted by it (for the first time, it didn't really hurt during the ride! now after, um...), and more focused on my equitation and communication with Tril. I'm learning what he likes and doesn't like, what he responds to, and what stunts he tries to pull to get out of work. He's learning I may be crooked and imbalanced and out of shape, but I still have strong opinions, some riding savvy, and am On To Him. He gave a solid spook at something under saddle today, and it was much like with Ana (though, as with all comparisons of their action, much bigger): redirect, circle, wiggle the rein, back to work, and he's over it.
He's also learning that his reward for a good arena ride is a mini-trail ride, something he had never experienced before I bought him back in April. He'd always, always, been ridden in an arena. This idea of exploring beyond carefully maintained footing and fences fascinates him, and he is already showing signs of being a far better treil horse than Ana. He is unafraid, confident, and curious, whereas Ana was always anxious and a tad fearful. She learned to like trail rides, but was always happy to be back home. She was my arena princess. Tril is my world conquerer.
Still, I've been realizing I've been hesitant to bond with Tril because my heart is still healing from losing Ana. I poured my heart into her, basking in the wonder and joy of My First Horse. And she poured herself right back in to me. "Just a horse," yet she was my therapist and my comfort through some of the most heart-ripping, frightening times in my life. I wept into her neck as I dealt with the grief of losing my grandmother, then my other grandmother, then my father. I broke down in sobs into her mane as I dealt with crippling back pain before each of two back surgeries. She was my partner. She was, ridiculously enough, my friend, as much as a non-human can be.
I have not allowed myself to love Tril just yet. He's just a horse I own and ride; he is not my partner. But in the last few rides, I'm noticing little things where we are connecting, in and out of the saddle. Today, he nuzzled me while we were at the hitching post, resting his head in my arms. After the ride, he put his muzzle in my hands and relaxed. And when I finished the post-ride grooming session, I couldn't help but kiss him on his deliciously soft nose. My heart is hesitant and fearful after the heartbreak of Ana's sudden loss, but it's cracking open just a fraction after each ride. He, meanwhile, is much less cautious.
I am becoming more than a person to him, and he is becoming more than a horse to me.
(Now for some ibuprofen...)