What a necessary pleasure it is to enjoy some solitude in the quiet spaces of a rainy morning at home. This is a rare and blessed event. Every cell of my body is soaking in each silent second. I am not even playing any soft or meditative music, preferring the croak of newly arriving grackles and the conk-a-ree of Red-winged Blackbirds.
Weekly riding lessons continue. My strength and stamina are picking up, little by little, so I don’t pull up exhausted after a few rounds of the ring at a posting trot. Sara, my instructor, is letting my little half hour lessons stretch out longer and I don’t limp for two days afterwards. I actually managed to canter twice around the ring on a reluctant lesson horse who wasn’t interested in doing anything beyond standing still. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit that it has taken this long to push a horse into a canter. The private horses I used to ride were more sensitive to my signals, and there were one or two that would even respond to the thought: Canter. Really, that’s true. But lesson horses have learned lots of avoidance techniques. I don’t blame them but instead am grateful for their patience at the slow recovery of my own riding skills.
Some lessons are better than others but the frustrating ones serve to remind me of my reason for having returned to this beloved, addictive, sometimes tragic and frightening world of horses. As an older, returning rider, it doesn’t matter this time around that my transitions from one gait to another are not perfect, or my circles look more like wiggly ovals. All that is important is to be safe and to handle the horse correctly. Other than those two things, the only judge I will have is the one in my own head, who is learning an important lesson in how to have fun while surrendering unreasonable self-criticism and expectations. As we walk around the ring at the end of a ride, I am filled with the contentment that doing what I can do in any given moment is just fine.