Learning to Fly
We came to a wide trail with some fallen logs. Merlin and I know these logs. He steps over them without any fuss on a regular trail ride. They are only about a foot off the ground, far from a mighty barrier. So I smiled like a wolf, dug my heals as far down as they would go in the stirrups, lifted up into two-point position and asked him to run. Merlin did as I asked, and did it at a full gallop. He was not in a controlled canter. He was moving fast and free. I gave him his head as we reached the log and he curved his muscular neck and lifted those mighty hind legs as we soared. I swear we could have jumped a coffee table.
Time seemed to slow down, I could not believe how high we had gone. He easily cleared the log by an extra two feet and I was aware of this split second of my life when I was flying through the air above four suspended hooves. It froze, slow as bullet time, and was over and spilling back into reality when Merlin hit the ground running like a buck at gunshot.
My landing was not as graceful as his. My stomach plowed into the saddle horn, my legs lost their grip, but I stayed on. I’m sure I felt more like a sack of potatoes than a rider when we landed but it didn’t seem to bother or slow Merlin down at all, like that jump as a booster back of speed and power. He continued to run and I cheered and whooped like an idiot.
Okay, so doing that one time? That was foolish. Making the sober decision to do it again today, that was courage. I admit I was scared to jump him again. Since Sunday I had watched Youtube videos and read some passages in my riding books about proper jump training and realized how lucky I was. You do not start jumping with three feet of air and a full gallop. You start at a trot with a few inches. And that was the plan today. Merlin and I headed back to that jump and with our scrappy education and stubbornness, tried again.
It took a few tries but at a gentler canter we jumped that log half a dozen times. These jumps were not the mighty leap that ended our airborne virginity, these were controlled, softer, and I felt very safe. He did not soar, he bounded, and I felt what a reasonable bit of air felt like. It wasn’t as dramatic but it was on purpose. And having gone back to face it a second time, knowing how rough it could be if I messed up, made me feel proud again. Merlin and I were learning to fly.
I am 32 years old, single, and built like a hobbit. I am not wealthy, or attractive, or particularly savvy. I have more flaws than virtues and have made many mistakes. But when I am on this horse, above the world, I feel a hope and possibility that I have not felt in years. I don’t feel like the girl I am ashamed of for all she lacks, I feel like the woman I can become. People sit in therapist’s offices their whole lives, drink into oblivion, and hurt people over and over looking for that feeling. I have found it in foolishness and luck, attached to a thousand pounds of equine born on another continent gifted to me through blessings I will never truly understand. If that comes across as arrogant, it is not meant to be. It is meant to be confident, which I know straddles that line. But I am beginning to learn the stupidity of overthinking about what other people assume about my heart, have assumed, or will assume. It is known that people who live with one foot in the past, and another in the future are perfectly position to piss all over the present.
I’m choosing to focus on those moments as they are gathered, be it in foolishness or determination. We are what we believe we are, and I am starting to believe in my ability to fly. For that, I thank the fiddlers. For that, I thank the mistakes. And for that, I thank myself for the permission for take off.