The Old and the New

This entire post is a thinly veiled excuse to brag about my newest acquisition and reminisce about the old days. You’ve been warned.

A lot of beloved people and critters have gone out of my life in the past year or so. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and it’s exhausting, stressful, and frankly kind of tiresome, to be knocked down over and over by the news that a grandparent, a friend, a childhood pet, is no longer within my reach (I say ‘tiresome’ because I’m a crusty New Englander, and ‘depressing to the point of tears’ is a little too on the nose for me).

The point is that, lately, my life has been deficient in connections to living creatures. So I bought a horse.

*Cheshire cat smile*

I don’t know much about her origins. About nine years ago, someone crossed a Paint horse with an Arabian- I think- and the little lady in the top photo was the result. She’s sharp as a tack and has a lot of get up and go. And she thinks. Most horses don’t, but whenever Bailey is startled by something, she looks bug-eyed at it for a moment, then decides that it’s not going to hurt her, instead of the usual equine tactic of ‘Run! Run for your life!”

In a previous life, she was a lesson horse, but she’s a little too sensitive for beginner riders, so she’s now mine. For now, I’m just riding her on the trails around the barn, but once I get a few things in order, I’m going to teach her about polo, just because I can. It should be fun; I miss chasing that little white ball around the arena, and I think Bailey will enjoy it, too. After she takes her usual five minutes to decide it’s not going to eat her, of course.

So there will be some new gear, and new skills, and probably some bumps and bruises along the way. But for now, I’m in this weird state of rediscovering all sorts of things that have lain dormant for a few years. I’m back in a region where green and growing things predominate; I have a horse of my own that I can ride whenever I want; I’m in my own house, not an interloper in someone else’s. I can breathe. My brain is working again, after two years of fuzziness from not enough oxygen.

The other shoe will drop. It always does. But for now, I’m on the upswing.

And, one more cool thing: see that saddle? It belonged to my mother, who’s been dead for just over a decade. Mom taught me to ride, and she practically lived in that saddle. The first time I used it, I was probably sixteen, even though I’d been tall enough for it for a few years by then, because Mom was always using it. It’s a King Series saddle, and it fits every horse I’ve ever put it on. It was old when she acquired it in the seventies, and it’s still usable, even though I didn’t use it at all when I lived in Colorado. I was very grateful for it last weekend, when a giant horsefly landed on Bailey’s butt as we were going down the trail, and she bucked and kicked sky-high to get rid of it. I stayed put. Because that saddle is made in such a way that it catches you when you fall.

I’ve been falling for a long time. But I found something to catch me, and now I can ride on, safe and sound.

12 comments

  1. Bailey looks gorgeous and although I do not ride, I can see the attraction, especially with the special saddle. I’m curious about the not breathing for 2 years bit and being better able to oxygenate.

    1. I lived at high altitude, and I have long-standing lung damage from a previous illness. It wasn’t bad enough to kill me, but I was mentally fuzzy the entire time I lived there, and had panic attacks every time I flew back ‘home’ after visiting a low-altitude place, because I didn’t want to go back to being fuzzy again. But that’s over now, and I feel much better.

  2. Western saddles are awesome.

    I can respect the skill involved in other forms of riding, I just don’t understand the appeal– it’s comfortable, someone that’s gut-shot can stay on with a little creativity, you can still read the horse and you can teach someone to ride it *badly* in like two minutes, and teach them to teach themselves to ride better in five more. With WORDS.

    Don’t let her bully you too much!

  3. I don’t know if you’ve ever met some of the dressage saddles for the Airs Above the Ground. They are based on the old war saddles, and yes, you are not quite glued in place, but they do help you stay put. I got to set in one and it was an odd feeling after American Western (barrel-racing saddle* in my case) and standard English.

    *No, I didn’t barrel race, but I really liked the fit of the saddle, and it fit the horses I was riding. It has a “rough out” suede seat, to reduce slip-sliding around in tight turns. You can still fall out of it, trust me!

    1. “To set” is deliberate. You settle in, because of how at least in my case the saddle sort of grips you more than what I was used to.

  4. Polo in a Western saddle? Hmpf. Western saddle, smart and agile horse — looks and sounds almost tailor-made for gymkhana. Or cowboy mounted shooting, if you’d like to try something a little more exotic.

    I don’t see Arabian there, although I could easily be wrong. Plain bay with a bald face, not especially heavily built … my WAG would be Paint crossed with Thoroughbred. Whatever her background, she’s pretty. You made a good choice.

    1. I’m in the process of acquiring some polo tack- it’s not impossible in a western saddle, but probably best to have the right equipment for teaching a young horse.
      And I’m guessing Arab because she has an Arab brain, and she’s so petite, I had to get a pony-sized bridle for her; the one I used on my- small- Quarter Horse was way too big.

  5. You were never an interloper.
    And yeah, okay, we miss you guys, but we get to see you soon.
    And Robert tells me that oxygenation is awesome.
    At any rate I’m getting panicky about being stuck behind the lines, but relocation HAS to wait a minimum of 18 months, and probably more like two years. For reasons of duty.
    This too shall pass. I’m glad you have Bailey, and I intend to feed her carrots!

  6. She’s beautiful!! I can’t get within ten feet of a horse these days without breaking out in hives and sneezing,but I still love them. I was never an avid rider, but I enjoyed it when I did do it (having inherited the natural family ability to stay on a horse, riding came easily to me, though again, I never did it enough to get into the more challenging bits of it).

    Enjoy her, and I hope she takes to polo!

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