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.


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

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

  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.

  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.

  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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