Monday, September 29, 2014

What We Can Be

This weekend was amazing. A real test of endurance, in all the best ways! I mentioned in the horse vlog about Patty's Dessert First Ride, if you remember? It happened and it was a real test of my ability as a rider. Eight miles on horseback around the backroads of Washington County. The event was one of the many the Washington County Draft Animal Association hosts, a club I've been a part a few years now. Members take turns hosting events that start with a parade of several carts and wagons and our horses and end with a huge potluck community meal. It's always a great time with great people. As far as horse people go, I'm not sure there is a more easy going and adventure ready breed than the horse people who hitch up their mounts to vehicles and hit the open road. We're goofy and irreverent, friendly and welcoming, but most of all - we are horse folk. The kind of people who can never turn back.

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 stopped for ice-cream at the creamery and Mark (Patty's husband) bought me a coffee milkshake. It was heavenly! I enjoyed it while sitting with new and old friends on the creamery's lawn and Merlin ate grass while we all enjoyed our treats. It had to be near eighty degrees, a fluke of warm weather here. To be out on a late September drive with horses wearing tee shirts and tank tops and sipping milkshakes was great. So much laughter, so many beautiful horses! I could not keep from smiling and as I looked around the crew I realized why. I have left all the miserable people behind, or they left me. I don't allow people to treat me poorly, including myself, anymore. Here on this sun filed day, with the fall leaves swirling at our horses feet I can see we are all happy because we WANT to be here. No one complained, gossiped, or had a harsh word for another. The people in my life are loving, supportive, and encouraging. To surround yourself (including your own brain) with folks who choose to be happy instead of angry, scared, resentful or jealous is a choice we can all make. It's freedom and paradise, and you don't need ice-cream or horses to get it. You just need to want it. We are all flawed, all imperfect, all having good and bad days. But what we can be is always happier, always opting for joy, and always in on the big joke. Which is to say, we all know it all ends in death and we're on borrowed time. You want to spend it being miserable, or sipping milkshakes with your pony?

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.


Blogger Ben Fruchter said...

Oh the annual zucchini "gifts" of Washington County. We all know there are exactly two good zucchini products (bread and fritters) and the rest is just creatively trying to do something with it, including ninja gifting into unsuspecting friends and neighbors vehicles. Well played Mark.

September 29, 2014 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger Kristen Brockmeyer said...

I had to go back and read this part again: "horses wearing tee shirts and tank tops and sipping milkshakes." My mistake, but the visual still made me giggle. :)

September 29, 2014 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger Nancy po said...

Where's your helmet missy? On a road with all that traffic especially, but any where, good idea....

September 29, 2014 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Thanks guys!

September 29, 2014 at 7:04 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Nancy, I'll wear a helmet on my horse when you wear one in your car :) Statistically, I don't know why anyone would get in their car without a helmet?!

I don't use one. It's my choice. That's that. But I appreciate the concern and agree they are a great tool and important.

September 29, 2014 at 7:06 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Hi Jenna, You describe such a fun fall day. I wish that I was there...driving my shetland with his cart. I wonder if he could keep up at a trot...

September 29, 2014 at 7:16 PM  
Blogger Nancy po said...

Jenna, I have over 1000 lbs of steel around me to protect me, and 6 airbags. You're in the open air. I hope you have good insurance...

September 30, 2014 at 7:30 PM  
Blogger Ginny said...

Second again to Nancy's comment. I wear my seat belt every time I get in the car too, is just the smart thing to do, as is the brain bucket, however unattractive it is.
What a lovely day. I hope that someday my horse and I will be able to do these kinds of things.

October 7, 2014 at 4:18 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home