Taking Stuff for Granted
I’m starting this post with an extract from CarrotTop, who brought up this subject last week :
When I was a horseless kid I wanted nothing else than to be part of the world that I would glimpse at ag shows or equestrian centres. Sometimes we’d drive past a horse show and I would wish I was there with my own float (a float is what they call a trailer Down Under) and pony, just milling about and brushing and talking and lugging water buckets.
It’s nearly 5 years since we bought LBH and I still get a huge kick out of the fact that my horses are a daily part of my life. I love it all, all of it. I especially get a perverse kind of pleasure from the daily grind stuff, like complaining about the price of feed, or fixing fences, or having a crappy ride, or when I have a really tiring day at work but I still have to drive out to the paddock to feed. I think it’s because I get to pretend that having horses is such a normal, obvious, take-it-for granted thing that I can whinge about it, but inside I know I’m the luckiest person in the world.
This stopped me in my tracks when I read it and brought me straight back to my yard in Cork one morning, almost twenty years ago. It was a nice day, the sun was shining and I’d finished all my jobs – horses were fed, stables and paddock were skipped out, yard was swept. The morning stretched out before me – I was free until 1.30pm when I would have to go and collect my daughters from school.
Will I ride, I wondered.
I had three horses to choose from – my own mare, Hally, or two well-schooled livery horses, whose owners had said they’d be delighted if I rode their horse any time. I stood in the yard, dithering over which horse I would ride and, in fact, whether I would ride at all.
Ah, sure I won’t bother, I decided.
I had stuff to do in the house – there’s always stuff to do in the house, isn’t there? I started to make my way down the short drive to the back door when I suddenly thought of a small girl who lived, breathed, ate and slept horses. She played for hours on her bedroom floor with her little plastic horses. She drew horses on every sheet of paper she could lay her hands on. Her bicycle was her pony, with string reins attached to the handlebars and she practised her rising trot and her jumping position every time she rode it. She relived every moment of her oh-so-scarce riding lessons over and over again. She built show-jumping courses for her friends in the front garden and knew all the rules, calling out “Four faults!” or “Eliminated” as they played show-jumping. She taught her pet dog how to lunge and how to do gymnastic jumping exercises. She had an incredible radar for detecting horses anywhere within a ten kilometre radius of her home and she would cycle off alone, on her imaginary pony, to visit these horses, feeding them carrots and apples that had been “liberated” from the kitchen cupboards. She dreamed that when she was grown-up, she would have a house with a small garden and a big field full of horses beside it.
If anyone had said to that little girl that she would one day be wondering “Which horse will I ride? The liver chestnut, the grey or the bay?” and she would then choose not to ride, she would never have believed it.
I looked at my house; I looked at my yard; I looked at my paddock. How lucky am I, I thought, that my dreams came true.
I rode two horses that morning.
So CarrotTop, thanks for the reminder – we are so incredibly lucky to have these creatures in our lives. The Dancing Donkey was trying to reassure me last week when I
moaned about posted about all the reasons I haven’t been riding. She told me how she has finally learned not to feel guilty because her mare isn’t working to her full potential. Well, I’m damn sure my guys aren’t working to their full potential, either, but improving my horses is not my reason for riding (although it would be nice).
I have two fantastic, mannerly little horses. I just want to enjoy riding them, whether it’s in the arena or out on the trail. I want to do it for that little girl on her bedroom floor, I want to do it for my dear friend Denis who will never ride again and I want to do it for myself, because the day will surely come when I can’t do it anymore, either.
That’s why I was frustrated with all the roadblocks I met last week.