If Horses Were Wishes

December 22, 2010

Yesterday I rode my horse, Tucker, a 17-year-old Dutch warmblood schooled in dressage. Today I’m popping ibuprophen for my aching back. But I don’t care. Nothing makes me happier than riding except maybe sex and writing fiction.

Tucker Trots

“That horse is costing me a fortune,” my husband Joe complains. Tucker does cost money although a fortune is hyperbole. He must be boarded and shod and trained, wormed every two months and vaccinated every spring, and treated for his arthritis. I must have riding lessons. There is also tack to buy – the saddle, stirrups, leathers, girth, saddle pad, bridle, bit, and more. And my gear – boots, breeches, helmet, and gloves. And since Tucker can hardly go naked, he must have at least one flysheet and flymask, a cooler (so he doesn’t get chilled after exercise), a rainsheet, and a turnout blanket for those freezing winter days.

And with all that, I’m not an accomplished rider. It has taken me years to learn to ride with any kind of control. Riding is somewhat dangerous even when you’re careful. I’ve been thrown six or seven times. The worst damage so far has been a bruised shoulder bone that hurt for a couple of weeks. For me, though, the danger is part of the attraction. Not that I’m an adrenaline junkie. It’s more that the possibility of falling keeps me focused. I think only about what I’m doing and not about the set of papers I haven’t read or the earring I lost a month ago. Riding anchors me in the moment.

Tucker Canters

To live in the moment is to be cut loose from time. The closest I can come to living forever. That sounds grandiose, I know, but the feeling lingers when Tucker is back in his stall or out in the pasture and I’m shoveling the shit he left behind. It lingers even when I get home and Joe reminds me to shed my filthy clothes before coming in the house.


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