As my toe throbbed under an ice pack, I realized my slower reaction times and balance are not as sharp as when I was twenty. Now that I'm pushing 55, I don't mend quite as quickly either! But all the pain has been worth the joy our three horses have brought me, starting with our first horse, Halawa Moon, known around the barn as Harley, and sometimes as, "Gnarley Harley" if he's being particularly opinionated.
On one of my first solo rides, not long after I'd had surgery, Harley spooked and spun, sending me crashing to the ground. He has since sent me to the doctor twice; once with a damaged rotator cuff, and once with a cracked sternum. But I can't lay the blame on him for my one trip to the emergency room. I stupidly tried to move a limb that was caught on the saddle pad and poking him in the ribs. Not realizing it was under pressure, it snapped back, thwacking me in the upper lip. With a handkerchief staunching the flowing blood, I re-mounted, rode back to the barn, turned out Harley, and drove to the ER where the nurse said, "This happened over an hour ago. It took you long enough to get here."
So maybe getting an ex-racehorse as a first horse, after 30 years out of the saddle, wouldn't be most people's first choice, but hey, he was free. I've yearned for a horse my entire life and this was a dream becoming reality at last. Call it a milestone at 50--I couldn't have been happier. Some women get tattoos, some dye their hair a brilliant shade of pink or blue to mask the imminent grey, some get nose studs. I got a high-spirited, off-track Thoroughbred who was going to be my trail horse--at least that's what I hoped. He's helped me stave off middle-age sagging over the past five years, helped lose weight, and increased muscle tone. On occasion, he's caused me angst, and made me lose sleep. But now, I cannot imagine life without Harley and the girls.
|Snoozy Rolex in the morning|
We had a rough winter in Maine; the most snow I've seen in thirty-some years. I shoveled stalls and I shoveled snow until my arms ached from "golfer's elbow". I think the last of the snow disappeared sometime in early April. But I don't dwell on the aches and pains; that would be pointless since it's all part of keeping horses. They depend on me for care, so I just muckle onto the shovel and get the job done.
This weekend, after I finish crawling around on my creaky knees, cutting in the floor I need to paint, I'll grab my britches and sandals (my toe still gets mashed in my riding boots), head out to the barn and take Harley out for an evening ride, replete with spooky woods, scary squirrels, frightening farm animals, and lots of smiles.
|Harley in camouflage|