What We Can Be
Merlin drives, and despite his recent hissy fits, drives well. But since Patty was offering to pick him up and bring him to her house in a borrowed trailer Friday night (for the Saturday ride), I wasn't going to ask her to come back after that favor and trailer my cart. A saddle fits easily into the cab of my pickup truck, along with grooming gear, saddle bags, and other tack. I would ride Merlin and Patty and the rest of the clan would drive their rigs.
Now, I was a little hesitant. I would rather be riding a horse than driving it, any day, but think about the position I am in. I am on the back of a horse, on public roads, surrounded by harnessed animals, cars, trucks, and pedestrians and EVERYONE is moving at a trot. If you don't ride you may not realize how uncomfortable a trot can be? Well, let me put it this way. Sitting a walking horse is easy, like riding a warm couch. A cantering horse is moving smoothly, like that warm couch is on a river, flowing and ebbing below you. But a trot is like the couch is being jackhammered. The gait is jaunty and you can either choose to sit it out (bobbing and bumping the whole way, which isn't good for you or your horse's back) or go up into a posting position. This means that as the horse moves you move too. You rise out of the saddle every time he lands or hover above the saddle using your thighs and heels to keep you stationed in place. It's a workout, and it's what Merlin and I did most of the trip!
I went from nervous and sweating at mile one, to burning thighs at mile three, to elated around mile five! My body just got used to it, as as I got used to it so did Merlin. We moved with the carts and wagons like the proper outriders we were. And with two loaded saddle bags of day hiking gear, a halter and lead rope, snacks, and horse stuff I felt like something from a story book. A hobbit on her laden pony. It's a feeling I try for every day. Some gals get up in the morning wanting to look like their favorite celebrity. Some get up hoping to beat their best run time. Others get up and want to be the best teacher, mother, or spouse. I wake up wanting to live like fiction, to feel like a heroine in her own story. Which is a very flowery way to say, love myself for being myself. That has been a struggle my entire life. Horses take me there.
We got back to Patty's farm and the potluck started. A dozen hungry people dined on homemade shepherd's pie, fresh breads, butter, squash soups and chowder and enough desserts to make the creamery seem like an appetizer. I noticed something fishy about the wild goose shepherd's pie and Patty announced that the base layer was zucchini. At this, several people got out their keys and pushed the lock buttons on their trucks. Mark crossed his arms (he's the gardener at Livingston Brook Farm) and smiled like a fox. "What makes you think I didn't already place them all" and we groaned and had our second helpings. There are worse rural crimes for certain.
It was a great day out, a truly Big Time. You can see more photos of the drive on my Facebook page, taken by (along with all the photos here) my friend Maria A. Patty and Steele were the only heavy horse team, as everyone else was haflingers or hackney ponies! So let's hear it for the little guys, who all did their part with their riders and drivers! You don't need to be a ton of horse to be a fine mount or draft animal. You don't need to be a celebrity to be a fine human being, either. But you do need to smile, and be around people who make you feel glad about the world, and occasionally accept the gift of a coffee milkshake.