Anyway, point is Merlin was calm. He was gentle the whole time, and when Dave left I started running a curry comb over his dusty back and long mane. I groomed him, singing to him, and I got lost in the meditation of it. Before I knew it I was as drugged by the present as Merlin was and I felt close to him. I wrapped a little of his long mane around my hands and gave him a hug around the neck. As I held onto the thousand pound animal I felt the thickness of the coarse locks around my palm and thought about the ancient marriage rites of the Celts. When two were to be married their hands were bound, tied together and held as they spoke their oaths. Merlin was not a husband, and his mane was not the silk ribbons or tartan of the past but there it was. We were a partnership of a sort, and remain one that only goes stronger. Yes, Handfasted we were. Merlin is not for sale, nor will he ever leave my side. And with that smell of horse in my nose and the feels of long, black, hair between my fingers I told him we would go for a ride.
And we did. We rode easily and calmly, just as we both had been feeling. We didn't go far, but we did venture a bit onto the mountain trails we are so lucky to have access to. I sat deep into the saddle and gave into his canter and just rode it out when he felt up to a gallop. I ride in a kilt, bare thighs against the saddle leather and it is lovely. My calves are protected by chaps and my bum protected by the full-seat breeches I had cut into the kilted rider's equivalent of bike shorts. In a light sweater, in the swirling wind that you only get before rain sets in, we rode. My god, do I love this animal. Do I love what he turned me into: a stronger, more confident, more capable woman who always feels a little tested and a litter braver for sharing my life with him.
I do remember my life before I had a horse. But I don't remember why I lived it.