This is my favorite picture of Mr. Tabby Man. Tab-Tab, a sweet, shlubby guy, died a few years ago. He was kneading me when I took this photo, which explains his stoned expression, but I also look this way tonight because somehow I came down with bronchial pneumonia during the summer and just got it diagnosed today. I only knew energy was draining out of me faster than I could store it and I was getting too good at hacking up chunks of blondish spackle. Ah, well.
None of that was enough to prevent me from going on a two-and-a-half-hour trail ride with K on Sunday morning. It was chilly, and rain spat through the wind from time to time, but it was so good to ride. I left Saxony alone over the weekend, not wanting to involve her with a less-than-present me, and rode Gambler while K rode Red Death. The ride didn't do my chest any good, but it did wonders for my head, so I broke even.
There I was practicing my sitting trot on little Gambler, whose peg-legged, steppy Arab trot demands a deep, relaxed seat and flexing, opening hips. I found my way to the elusive moment when those abstract concepts converged into a simple physical harmonic and I stayed there, again and again. You have that moment where you say I actually get it, I really actually understand it because you feel it.
It's a lifelong, ever-sustaining pursuit, riding, and rare for being one that's more fun along the way than not. That's how I feel about it, and that's what I talk about with friends who've never had horses in their lives. Then I gloat when I become an enabler.
Which is exactly what is happening here. A dear friend relaxes on Gambler, riding on the buckle, both of them enjoying a lovely stretch after a session on the lunge line. This was only the third time she'd ridden Gambler, but what seemed to have begun as a minor case of the 24-hour horse bug may have flared into ... full-blown horse pneumonia. Presenting symptoms include, but are not limited to, unrepentant grin, reluctance to dismount, and sudden use of the word "lease." I recognize the moment when someone discovers their love of riding, their love of horses, and I never tire of sharing it. I know what beginners don't yet realize, how that sense of discovery never leaves us when horses are in our lives, and how it can help us even in those parts of our lives that have nothing to do with horses.
Which makes me think of K and what's going on between her and Scout. I still had Dar when Scout passed her post-surgery-and-recovery soundness exam. With Dar in training then, and Scout long ago cast in the role of beloved nemesis, I could only nod silently when Dr. B said, smiling, "Put her back into regular work."
Dar played out as he did and then the high season of my job drew me into its four-month maw. Scout idled happily in the pasture and uneasily in the back of my mind. Until the day K asked to ride her. That was some 15 rides ago, and now I know "K" stands for Kismet.
Riding with them on Sunday, watching their growing connection, I continued to think about how they are matched, about how the right fears can sometimes dovetail with precisely the right horse in the best way imaginable for the horse and the rider. That's happening here, and I'll write about it when I've understood it well enough to explain what I mean. For now, it'll stay in my backblog, along with Saxony, thoughts about dressage, questions about endurance, and new steps to regaining confidence.