Monday, August 6, 2012

riding on my mountain

Merlin and I have grown as a team more in the past three weeks than ever before. Under the gentle and empathetic teachings of Trainer Dave and his western methods of loose rein riding we have been unstoppable on this mountain. Yesterday we went on a two-mile ride. It was a combination of walking, trotting, and cantering the whole journey and I never felt more alive as a rider. We left the farm and headed down the road, weaving along the shaded, tree-lined switch backs on the grassy berms until we hit the junction for route 22. We then turned around, not interested in testing our highway skills yet, and headed back home.

Today we went up the mountain instead of down, up the road until we hit a stretch of fields already cut for hay. They belonged to my neighbor Tucker, who had given us permission to ride on his land, so we stole ourselves. We turned off the paved road and hiked through the forest till a break in the trees opened us up and showed us there are still sights to explore just a mile from our front door. A beautiful vista of mountaintop fields and sunshine lay before us. It reminded me of the balds I used to hike to in the smoky mountains. Such a strange and wonderful thing to climb a mountain and find open land at its top! I could see the famous fire tower, a mile or so up a trail I do not know yet (adventure for another day). I could see mount Equinox in Vermont. I took a deep sign and leaned back in the saddle as we walked slowly through the clipped grass. There was no fear, anxiety, or worry about cars or wildlife. I trusted Merlin and he trusts me and it felt like peddling a bike around, we were sharing his four legs and nothing could stop us.

We did so much exploring. We trotted and cantered through the fields, finding ancient stone walls, shady paths, and droppings from stag and coyotes. We stepped down into steep sections so lush with raspberries I could smell them as the horse crunched some under feet. Merlin, surefooted as the highland-born pony he is, stepped over an old stone wall and out into the second clearing. A great blue heron soared overhead, looking for pools in the mountain stream teaming with brook trout. Bliss, is your wild home land seen from horseback.

This is exactly why I wanted a horse. I didn't care about bloodlines, ribbons, or top hats. I wanted a partner in adventure, a way to move across the landscape. I wanted to go outside my own home, tack up, and head out into the unknown to take on the whole world. I wanted to shown what there was still to explore, to feel him pump up a hill at a gallop. I wanted to be able to ride to neighbors and visit, get to know my local topography, and wave to people I know by first name and talk about the weather. I wanted to use my horse the way people used horses every day 100 years ago. ATVs and cars be damned, I have a celtic pony and I know how to use it.

Merlin and I have explored over three miles of my mountain. There are other people with horses and barns on our journey but we don't ever see them out on the roads? I suppose they are either uncomfortable riding their mounts or don't have the time, but it is something special to trot past the homes of people on the back of your horse while the blue glow of their televisions light up their living rooms. You feel like your out at recess and their still in class. I wasn't even sure why people were inside? It wasn't even eighty degrees today, perfect weather and with a nice wind to boot! I know I shouldn't assume. For all I know folks are ill, or have melanoma. Maybe they just need a day shut in with a movie (I certainly understand that desire to shut off). I honestly don't know, but I can't help but be grateful for my horse and how he makes me want to be outside and living in the green world. He is such a blessing, connecting me with others and teaching me to appreciate a canter up through a wooded field.

I tell you these summer days passed by with saddle, foot, and bow are becoming legend in my own life. I adore every hoof mark, stride, and knocked arrow.

And the very best part?

It's Monday.


Blogger jules said...

"And the very best part? It's Monday."

Isn't that just wonderful?! I love how you and Merlin have found your sweet place. On horseback exploring is a fabulous place to be.

So, Merlin is your riding pony, and Jasper is your working pony? Is that how it works?

All I can say is "You go girl!" You are an inspiration to me.

August 6, 2012 at 2:55 PM  
Blogger Mary Schroeder said...

People are going to "hate" (in jest) over the Monday thing. hehe You go girl.

August 6, 2012 at 4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It strikes me that I feel similarly about my bike - it's clearly not alive or capable of all that Merlin is, but there's something very powerful about being out in the world, moving under my own power. Perhaps there's a horse in my future, though - it certainly sounds lovely, and I think there are a whole host of compelling and practical arguments for horses as transportation (although that word barely begins to cover the wonder of a horseback ride versus the practical-but-mundane quality of cruising around in the average vehicle).

August 6, 2012 at 5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds so wonderful, I wish I could go with you. Where, oh where, are the pictures?

August 6, 2012 at 6:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Superb writing as always!

August 6, 2012 at 7:53 PM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. It brought back good memories.

August 6, 2012 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Your writing had me right there with you! What a wonderful adventure :)

August 6, 2012 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger DarcC said...

I am so happy for you and Merlin, for having found each other!

If there is any better feeling in the world than a gallop in the great wide-open, I don't know what it is.

August 6, 2012 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hi Jenna.
"There are other people with horses and barns on our journey but we don't ever see them out on the roads?"

My guess is that you may live near some "fair weather" riders. Lots of folks won't ride if there are bugs (mosquitos, biting flies), it is raining, cold, etc. We have lots of them up here in Maine!
Lisa In Maine
(who rides 4 seasons)

August 6, 2012 at 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Uta said...

I am sooo jelous. Dealing with a husband that had quadruple by-pass surgery 5 weeks ago so I'm kind of housebound. Can't wait to be back on the road again. I'm just glad I still have my husband.

August 7, 2012 at 4:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously jealous. You're going to need to post more of those excursions..they help me get through my Monday at the office.


August 7, 2012 at 5:47 AM  
Anonymous janet gordon said...

I'm so glad you have the assistance of your coach to help you make a breakthrough - life with a willing horse is wonderful!

August 7, 2012 at 7:36 AM  
Blogger Amy McPherson Sirk said...

Congratulations on your self employed life. It's very satisfying to get up each day and do the things you know are important. I sent you an email, did you receive it?

August 7, 2012 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger farmhousewife said...


August 7, 2012 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

I'm so glad you and Merlin are finding comfort with each other. I was worried for a bit, but the thing I love most about you is you don't quit!! Enjoy!

August 7, 2012 at 3:48 PM  

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