Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Great Ride

The day was sunny and cool and I could feel the intensity of my horse's energy; contained and ready to spring loose. The first fence of the course was the hardest, not because it was imposing, as it was a simple 2' 6" rail set in a fence line, but there was brush on either side of the fence and a copse of trees right after it. There was no path visible from this side of the fence. I needed to approach the fence at an angle so that I could make the sharp right turn within a stride of landing. If the angle was too sharp we'd crash into the brush and the trees, but too flat and my horse might run out. We approached in a collected canter. I held all of that energy in check. Since he couldn't go forward, he rose up and down, like a carousel horse, with his front legs lifting high. We made it over the fence, vaulting more than a foot above the top rail. We just made the turn. I gave him his head and we were off. He needed to get that run in or there would be no controlling him. The trail through the trees opened into a small field surrounded by hardwoods. We ran along the tree line and ducked back into the woods. The next obstacle was tricky. The course designers had dug away a hillside creating a long, steep slide. I had to check my horse, get him collected for a sharp right turn, and get his haunches under him in order to negotiate the steep hill. Half way down the cut my horse spotted the next obstacle, a pile of logs. I felt his haunches bunch as he prepared to leap. "No!" I screamed as I put more pressure on the reins, "you are way too early!" He flung himself head first into space a good five meters away from the fence and from a point that was easily over 2 meters in height above the fence. I grabbed the mane, preparing to brace for a rough landing. We were flying. It was one of those  moments where action reverts to slow motion. The trees seemed to go by so slowly I could count them. I could see the dappled light play along his ears, his mane, my arms and his shoulders. I had time to worry about the landing. What effects would the extra momentum have? Was the footing stable enough? Could I stay in the saddle, or would I be pitched forward?  The jolt of the landing was more than I had anticipated. I awoke with a start. My hands were gripping the crumpled sheets, which I had wrestled from the bottom of the bed. I lay still, willing my heart to slow down. I took a few deep breaths and rolled on my side. I smiled. That was just the beginning of one heck of a great ride!

Although the picture has faded and become blurred with time,
this cross country ride on my horse, Apple, still comes to mind in sharp details.

5 comments:

  1. Wow that was quite the ride, sounds like you've lived it. Great photo.

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  2. Great description!!!! Loved it!!!!

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  3. Lovely ride. I'm glad it stayed with you, so that you could relive it over and over. I have some of those memories, too. Memories where you can just close your eyes and, there you are again.

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  4. I suspect most horses love jumping. In so many pictures I see the horse looks eager and has its ears forward while going over a jump.

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  5. I miss my jumping days! I need a new horse for jumping. Maybe I should limit all the things I do become involved in.

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