When I was about 10, I decided I wanted to be a gymnast. Note, I was a tall, leggy, and very uncoordinated girl despite my enthusiasm. But this didn't deter me, and I felt I was destined to be a great gymnast. It makes me laugh to even think of it now. My best friend, and neighbors, thought that if they got photos of me doing all the gymnastic tumbles I knew how to do already we'd be sure to convince my parents to get me into a gym. the result was some hysterical prints thanks to Cassie's poor photography as a 13 year old, bless our hearts! All she caught was my knobby knees and dirty bare feet in less than graceful positions as I tried to do somersaults and who knows what else. The majority of what I accomplished was making myself really dizzy (for I had POTS even back then, without knowing it), and getting a very fair response from my parents that I was already taking piano and gymnastics was incredibly expensive.
|Treasure and I|
I quickly realized I was too tall and just not going to make it as a gymnast, and enjoyed swinging like a monkey from the treetops instead. So I continued on with my love of horses-something I'd been passionate about for years. All my parents heard for the next year was riding lessons, riding lessons, riding lessons in earnest, I was not about to give up this dream! I'll never forget the moment my mother caved! I think I leapt ten feet. We found the perfect barn. I remember I was wearing jean overall shorts with flowers on the bib, and we walked around, finding the mare that was to teach me the basics leaning over the gate of the indoor arena. Her name was maddie, and she was looking longingly in at her her horse soulmate who's name is Treasure. Treas had just had a baby, Time. Time is now my best friend's horse and is the kindest gelding you will ever meet. Maddie has since passed on but I will never forget that sweet, goofy mare! Meeting my trainer a small, talented rider with so much to teach me was exciting and I couldn't wait to start. I still learn so much from her, I call her up and even though I'm stuck in bed or in a chair, I cling to the phone and drink in every bit like I did when I was a little wet eared newbie. We bought my first pair of boots and I wore them every minute til that first lesson. The longest week of my life!
|Jumping 2'9" with Apryl in the ring: ever the enthusiastic jumper!|
Mom drove me faithfully for so many years. This was back in 2002 when I started, we went every Thursday, and it was summer. I can still smell the dust and the sweet hay wherever I am. the barn is far from fancy, but the horses well trained and honest and I learned horsemanship, equitation, and so much more. When I ran out of paid lessons each year, Cheryl let me work for them. Even when my help wasn't as full as when I was younger due to my progressing illness, she took it and continued to teach me. How to guide her own mare, Apryl, through a maze of jumps and how to ride low level dressage so we went from jump to jump we would be as one, bending around the curves and balancing. Eventually, Apryl took me flying through the woods and over solid fences on the cross country course outside of the ring. And no matter how sick I felt as the years went on, she made me feel so free. Even now! I treasure every minute with that stubborn, feisty red mare. She has her own problems, a bad shoulder and back, splints. But she always works so hard for you, always wants to keep jumping, I've never ever asked her to jump something, and she said "no, I'm afraid, I can't". On a very rare occasion she'd say no I don't want too, but those I can count on one hand! She just always went, her heart was always over the jumps. She taught me so much, and I was one of the few that loved her and would put up with her. She loves to spin and bolt, but can also be a dream. Oh the fun we had!
|Her watching me groom her legs|
Now, she's a little older and steadier, and perhaps wiser. I rode her for the first time in two years, outside of sitting still on her once, and she oh so carefully jogged when I asked her too, walking the rest of the time like I was made of glass. A big difference from the usual big steps and exuberant trot I was used too! It was almost like she was asking me questions the entire time. When I'd go visit her after a hospital stay, just dying for a horse hug after too much stuffy hospital air, her eyes always follow me, even bending her neck around if I would go into her "blind spots" behind her. There is nothing more special than a bond with an animal, especially such a large, powerful one!
|Jumping cross country|
|At a show about 5 or 6 years ago|
|Riding for the first time in two years!|
|I rode bareback and in a halter so she'd be in a relaxed frame of mind|
I'm so grateful for my childhood, and those teen years I was able to still do what I wanted despite some limitations and pain. The barn was my escape, filled with people who understood me. Nobody can ever take your memories away from you! Hold onto those good times, remember them when things are hard, and don't ever give up hope that you can't get a piece of it again. My Kindred Spirit Francine says, she'll always find a way to get me on a horse (even if she has to hold me up in front of her, as she has done before and I know will again<3) There are always ways to get around limitations. Never ever give up! http://www.thenegufoundation.org/ It probably won't be exactly like it was before, but so long as you can let go of that and enjoy what it is now, you can find so many blessings in life you may not have seen before.