As a kid, I was pretty clueless about horses and riding. My mom and grandma taught what they could to a stubborn but enthusiastic girl. Mom sent me to English lessons for a while. I can still hear the drone of the instructor’s voice across the dirt of an outdoor ring: “Heels down. Toes up and in. Shoulders back. Hands lowered…”
When I was 12, I was invited to take care of a Welsh pony. Her owner was going to college. I’d do everything but pay the bills. Pretty nice arrangement.
Honey and I had a great rapport. We rode several times a week in the woods and fields of Harpswell Neck. Mostly on our own for hours at a time, we’d ride south along the now defunct Navy pipeline. Riding bareback, I got tossed off every other ride. When I relaxed and got distracted, Honey’d move laterally. It was a little game she liked to play, I’m sure.
Rides were fun alright. When I called her from the field, she came running. It wasn’t for grain. It was for the good time. It was for my girlish affection and our clumsy camaraderie.
Twenty-five years and a million miles have passed, but that’s what I was feeling yesterday as we set out saddles for another ride. The horses took notice and gathered around.
“You gonna take me?” they each seemed to ask.
I’m pretty sure they don’t care that I ride a little better than I did as a twelve-year old. They’re just interested in the good time.