Horseback Riding

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I’ve spent too many posts relying on subtext to tell the truth of each day, so here’s one where I’ll state it plain.

I rode horses for a few years as a kid. Western style, not English. I remember the excitement of picking out real cowgirl boots. I know how to saddle, bridle, brush, and clean the caked mud from hooves. My body knows the rhythm of walk, trot, cantor, gallop. I love trail rides, but the ring is best for galloping. During a competition when I was ten, the saddle wasn’t tightened, and on the return loop, it slid from my horse taking me with it. I don’t remember the fall; I want to say I might’ve even landed on my feet. I know I managed not to get trampled. Once during a lesson, another horse bit mine and he reared up, front legs reaching into the air, chucking me backwards, but I held on. Those were the only memorable events, those and the time a horse stepped on my foot. I loved driving to the stable, the routine of readying the horse, just being close to those majestic creatures, and of course I loved to ride.

At some point during my pregnancy, I told my brother I missed riding horses. I don’t know what prompted it, I just wanted to be out in the woods horseback riding. A fleeting notion. Many months later, when my daughter was just 5 months old, my brother stopped by with a birthday present that he and my siblings had arranged. I’ll never forget, it was the middle of the day and he was dressed in his suit looking so polished and handsome. The baby had just dozed off and I was lying in bed with her, delirious from long-term sleep-deprivation. The place was surely a mess. By then my brother had a 2-year-old and understood, but I still felt embarrassed. He smiled, handed me an envelop, and whispered, “Open it.” Inside were two gift certificates to a stable a few towns away. Apparently the stable did not routinely offer gift certificates, but were happy to accommodate the request and created two by hand (see above picture). The font on the backside is mismatched and each certificate contains different information. He had to wait a bit while they made them up. We laughed and laughed, silent-don’t-wake-the-baby laughter bubbling into tears streaming down my cheeks, which turned into real tears after he’d left–I was so moved by the thoughtful nature of the gift, that he remembered after all that time, a whim from a passing conversation.

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