Lift-off is imminent. I've been prepping on the launch pad for two weeks. Tomorrow my life will be commanded entirely by the 10-day run-up to opening day of the event I work for. It's a ceaseless hurtling toward that moment, the home stretch still demanding and startling despite this being my 11th year doing it. I will work for 150 hours or more, frantically hacking off a bit of time here to spend another bit of time somewhere else. This is Hell week. Everything else becomes subordinate to it.
I went to the barn to see Saxony and Scout tonight knowing it would be my last chance. I had to hunt out the time, stalk it, isolate it, and then take it. I took S with me and we met K there. After picking our paddock, we each took a horse, speed-groomed, bridled, put on our helmets and then clambered on bareback.
Oh, that feeling of settling on your horse's back after days away, settling there along that impossibly strong, tensile spine. I can't believe the crap that melts away in me. Forty-five minutes idled past as we drifted up and down, around and through the long outdoor riding arena. We walked, letting gravity seduce our legs long, draping them against the horses' sides. Gambler, Saxony and Scout met each of us halfway; welcoming the easiness of it, they settled into well-strided, forward walks. They sighed and snorted contentedly. Together, we all walked and it was wonderful.
It was like I was buying time, in the best way, buying breath, energy and resolve. We were there for just two and a half hours, but I banked enough time for the next 150, all I need to carry me to opening day.