Some people drink when they’re nervous or pump themselves up with drugs. Some people just face their fears (imagine!). I ate malted milk Whoppers until I felt sick. Then I got up this morning and went outside and tried the new mare.
She’s a 13-year-old quarterhorse, 16 hands tall and built like a supermodel, which means she’s mostly long, long legs. I think she’s probably as sweet a girl as Louanne, her custodian for the past 4 years, said on Saturday when we picked her up.
But we brought her to a strange place with two silly geldings about her age and one 33-year-old who wants to show he’s still in the game. We saw him sneak up behind her this morning when I was petting her. If you don’t think a 33-year-old 1,000-pound horse can sneak, you don’t know our Matt Dillon. It’s hard to be sweet when a set of horse choppers approaches your flank.
Louanne was a volunteer with the NC chapter of the U.S. Equine Rescue League when this mare was found, abandoned, tied up(!) and starving to death. To this day, apparently, she is very concerned about her chow which only makes sense. However, horses concerned about chow can be tricky, even dangerous, at feeding time, especially with other, unfamiliar horses nearby.
So lots of stuff was whirling about my echoing brain last night, knowing that we’d be going for our first test ride this morning. That’s when I fell. Hard. About 500 calories worth would be a conservative guesstimate.
Luckily, today’s a gorgeous day, sapphire sky unbroken by clouds and only a slightly lighter blue at the edges. I am pretty much afraid of everything having to do with horses but am crazy (literally) about them and determined to keep trail riding for a while longer. I remember how wonderful it felt cantering up the mountain at the Moses Cone home, or even along our fence here, with two horses on the other side racing us to the top. I want to do/feel that again before I quit.
Fleming is this horse’s name, and she is not a done deal. I want to get on her — briefly — every day for the next week or so and walk her around our ring, maybe even trot. He Who Is Not Scared trotted her this morning after she stopped walking with stiff legs like an astronaut who’d just climbed down from the shuttle (we think my saddle may have been pinching her prominent withers or her shoulders).
I’ll have to get my inelastic hip flexors in much better shape if she’s staying since she’s at least 4 inches taller than was Belle. Climbing aboard is its own special challenge.
So is facing challenges without a food pacifier, darn, without any pacifier. This is the sort of spine we’re supposed to have within. But inside I’m hollow, like a big, white chocolate Easter bunny with scared eyes.
I can laugh, though, aware that this poor girl is as nervous as I am and probably quite a pussycat (but she’s not my pussycat — yet) and to think, what it must feel like to get on something hot like a racehorse, an Arab chomping at the bit or poor Hickstead who died yesterday, coming out of the show jumping ring. Without moving, each would feel to me like a raging, bucking bronco.
Maybe on livestrong.com this past week I read someone saying that successful, long-term weight management is not a matter of numbers on the scale but of finding daily actions that give us a sense of accomplishment. To eat well today after the candy blowout last night, to get on the horse and say to Geronimo, “Turn her loose and let me walk her.” I have, I did and it’s not even noon yet.