joy found in horseback riding
| I dreamt of flying dozens of times, especially during my childhood. In my dreams, I stood on the old wooden picnic table's top and ran the short distance down it to take off in flight. Really it was more like gliding or floating. Like a back float in the water. Almost effortless, limitless endurance. In my frequent flights I hovered a few feet above the ground, flew for any distance that I desired, before lightly putting my feet to the ground.
When I awoke from those dreams I felt such a let down. I was so disappointed to return to earth-bound reality.
Years passed and my dreams of flights became quite infrequent. I lost the joy and freedom of flying. However, I am blessed by the gift of flight again while on horseback.
I relish the exquisite pleasure of riding a sweet-tempered Arab mare who is aptly named Valentine. She has the smoothest, most silken canter that I have experienced. Weekly, I join a true horse-lover, my friend, Bev, to ride along the winding tree-lined trails in the forest preserve.
My joy begins with the first scent of horses and the corral. The sweet-pungent smell of horse manure and hay is encoded in my brain and my senses as the most relaxing, stress relieving, endorphin releasing aromatherapy. I fully recognize that the scent is not so pleasant to everyone I know. Nonetheless, I frequently offer my husband a whiff of my gloves after I have been "to the horses." He humors me, and accepts my horse-loving peculiarities.
Back at the barn; Bev and I meet and walk the horses up to the tie-out posts where we groom them. Grooming, brushing Valentine's smooth mahogany colored coat and coal-black mane and tail is the prelude I crave when I have been too long away from her. Her ears are upright with a slight inward curve. They perk up as I speak to her. Valentine's mobile nose is like velvet, her lips are agile enough to pick a treat delicately from my hands.
After I have thoroughly brushed Valentine, and Bev has groomed her mare, Jessie, we saddle up and head out to the trails.
The act of going out on the trails does not guarantee an opportunity to fly. As with many endeavors, the circumstances must be right and be aligned to allow the ultimate in joy and release. If the trail is not too wet or slippery, if heavy rains have not eroded the trails to expose rocks, if pedestrians are not too numerous, we will canter.
Cantering is flying on Valentine. Walking on horseback, or trotting steadily, posting up and down rhythmically with her steps is indeed pleasant: I would not forgo it. Flying, as we canter, floating a few feet above the ground, smoothly rocking forward and back: that brings the most toe-curling sigh from my entire being! It is the completeness, wholeness that I imagine heaven to be. Unfettered, without fear, One with the most powerful Being. No barriers of my human frailty between us. Trusting in the strength, agility of this Other and finding complete release.
We canter for several minutes, and always, always, I sigh as we slow to a trot then a walk. It is the sensation of bringing my feet back to the ground. Awakening and re-entering this reality. As with the dreams of my childhood, I could feel disappointment that the flight has ended, however, this gift is tangible. I feel it still, I smell the truth of it on my hands as I drive home and it sings in my heart.
And, I will fly again.