Thursday, July 03, 2008

Joy of Riding

Last week, I had a visitor. Alecia has been a friend of mine since high school. Back then, we were inseparable and spent most of our time riding horses bareback. She would ride her horse, Serts, and I would ride whichever horse I was able to beg, borrow or steal.

Well, since high school, things have changed. We've grown up. I moved to Nashville and she moved to Alaska and got married. Serts came to live with me and my horse Tanna (and my husband and my dog and my cats!).

Whenever Alecia makes it back to the Lower 48, she tries to come visit Serts and me. (Really Serts ;-)). Last week was one such visit. I bridled Serts and off she and her son David went on a short bareback ride around the pasture. Andrew, her oldest son, wasn't interested in riding.

After David had his fill, I hesitantly hopped on Tanna bareback and we went for a walk down the street for a little ways. We talked over things past and present as good friends are wont to do. When we returned to the house, we simply sat on the horses and chatted some more as Daniel brought us water bottles. We used to do that for hours way back when. Just sit on the horses and talk. I mentioned I don't do that so much anymore. Almost every ride has a purpose, a plan, a training or conditioning goal. "No more fun?" she asked. "No," I answered, "simply a different kind of fun."

Well, today I decided to reclaim some of the old-time fun. I didn't have my best human friend to go riding with, but I had her horse and my horse. So I grabbed Serts' bridle and my helmet (I didn't have a helmet back then, but I'm not that anxious to repeat days gone by!).

I hopped on Serts and headed around the tree line to find Tanna who joyously ran to greet us when he spotted us. We raced around at a canter, making figure eights and going wherever the wind took us. I stayed in our small pasture, not wanting to curb Tanna's exploits by haltering him and not wanting to leave him behind. After a few laps around the front pasture, we raced up to the back acres and up the wooded hill. I went rather slowly up the hill, until Tanna raced past to show the way. Serts and I shot after him, me dunking branches with every step. At the top, we stopped and companionably sat for awhile, letting breath and heart rate slow.

Finally, I headed Serts back down the hill and Tanna took off at a run, leading the way down the hill. Serts and I followed as fast as we could without a branch knocking me off! When we reached the open grass, we raced around and then back up the hill. Faster this time as I knew the way a bit more. Again at the top we stopped. This time, Tanna edged closer and I stroked his head while sitting far back on Serts' hindquarters, my knees drawn up and my feet resting on his back in front of me. What a great feeling and what two great horses!

As we walked back down the hill to end our joyous ride and let Serts go to eat grass, I thought, "Alecia, this one's for you."

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