I like looking at this pretty girl’s face – both sides! Even if just in photos on my phone’s camera roll. She’s the pony I wrote about in Wonderponies, earlier this year. In that post, I was still shaking in my chaps from a freaky trail ride where she was so awesome. In that post, I mistakenly called her ‘Saved by an Angel.’ Which I was that day.
Her real-true whole name is: Angel, Sent from Above. And, she is.
I’ve been riding Angel weekly since January. When Albert was still with us, whenever I went to get Angel from the mare field, I could see his old, white face leaning out his stall door up the little hill. Then, after my lesson, I would go up to the south barn to hangout with Buddy himself and try to help him shed out. [The Cushing’s made him a Curlylocks all year round.]
Anyway, Angel’s such a friendly mare. But, I wouldn’t call her needy, you know? With me, anyway, she’s not real snuggly, though she always comes walking up to greet me in the field or her stall. She’ll trade exhales with me – my favorite way to greet a horse. She’s solid as the earth. In the ring, the wash stall, or on the trail, you can rely on Angel.
Still, I would never call her a babysitter, either. What I mean is that I can’t not do my job and just let her carry me around. With Angel, I do have to work and think and act consistently.
She’s a good listener, and I can tell that sometimes I talk too fast or too slow with my aids. I tend to be a chatterbox with my hands, a space cadet with my legs. So, there’s some accountability there between us. She will let me do all the work if I really insist, ha!
All my life, since I first started riding about 15 years ago, I’ve noticed a pit in my stomach every time before getting on a horse. Usually, the feeling would go away and, sometimes, not.
It’s just that my brain is, well, I think it runs with a dull processor in some areas. I don’t right away get the mechanics of certain things – movements, shapes, procedures – until they’ve imprinted in my mind. Really.
It’s no exaggeration that I learned to put a saddle pad on a horse by looking at the pad and saying to myself, “I think it goes this way, so it must go the opposite way.” For years I did this every time.
Now, after so long of repeating the process, I see the way the pad should fit. Halters? Same story. I STILL, sometimes have to hold the halter out and let my eyes find the shape in order to get it right. Same story with posting on the diagonal. For years, my eyes just couldn’t detect, couldn’t isolate the movement of the horse’s outside shoulder that I was supposed to rise with at the trot. But, now I can see it, so that helps me feel it.
So, I’m thinking that maybe I’ve always started out feeling kind of scared or unsure because I know there is so much about horses and riding that my brain struggles to translate. Because I know so much of the technical, mechanical parts of riding, I just don’t recognize or can’t easily replicate.
You know what, though?
Never have I felt a pit in my stomach near or on Angel. We’ve become friends at a good time in my riding life. I’ve worked through some of my spatial-mechanical challenges. My yoga practice, which I started the year I cracked my sacrum in a riding accident [THAT horse’s name was Achy Breaky, no-lie], is helping me now even more than I could have imagined. Especially, with releasing my calves, opening my hips, breathing in and breathing out.
The absence of a scary stomach lately is partly due to this deeper awareness of my own body and breath, I think. And, I’ve figured out how a few things operate by now.
But really, I credit Angel, Sent from Above, who is very likely really truly sent from above.