By Genny Macy
I love a good plan. In fact, I love to have several, before I do much of anything serious. So selling my horse, with absolutely no idea what to do next, wasn’t exactly how I saw my riding future play out. But after Olive left for her new home I found myself in a strange horseless existence. Yes, there were great lessons still. I met a lovely older gentleman thoroughbred who I adored, he tolerated me as only a schoolmaster would. Then I rode the giant grey sale horse for a few weeks, most of which I spent squealing over how adorable he was.
But something was still missing. After staring between my mare’s perpetually fluffy bay ears for three years, I found myself waffling over my commitment to anything. My 5-month-old daughter assured me that I was not ready for a full time gig of owning a horse, but I still wanted something more.
My barn family did everything they could to help; I was offered rides, and took them every chance I got. When the idea of a lease, or in this case, a half-lease cropped up, I felt an immediate need to make it happen! I hoped that if I could just ride more, see horses more, I would fill that hole left inside; the one that felt a lot like failure, and a lot like an identity crisis. Starting the following month, I hopped on my new, and highly unlikely ride. A friend’s bay warmblood mare, Dee, needed some extra rides. At 15.1hh, we worried me and my 5’10’’ self would look ridiculous on this little bay warmblood mare.
To my surprise though, things worked very well. We were both out of shape; her from grass overdose, and myself from only riding sporadically, so I’m sure we were a sight to see those first few rides. I can’t remember who was out of breath first (probably me), but it was ugly.
But then, there were things I couldn’t deny. Dee met my squirming, cooing, cheerio throwing, poop machine of an infant…and could not have cared less. I could push the stroller, lead Dee and carry a diaper bag all at the same time. Sometimes Dee carried the bag for me. I could get on and off and on and off and on again (repeat ad nauseam) during our hacks to retrieve missing socks, dropped bottles, or whatever tragedy had befallen said child that time. Dee did not care. Oh, and did I mention that she is a lovely mover? Or that she practically knees herself in the face over fences? No? Minor details I guess.
Over time, Dee and I kind of figured out a routine. We got to jump bigger things, we panted less, worked harder, survived a horse show, had success at another. My daughter learned to say her name, and has in fact decided that all of horsekind is now “Dee Dees”. Dee got used to snacking on the baby’s crackers instead of horse treats, and I got used to riding with one eye on the stroller parked along the ring. Most weeks I managed to have some really great rides. Other weeks, I considered life a success if we managed to brush the mare. But I didn’t give up, but mainly because I didn’t have the option. I now had this partnership I wanted to preserve, and something for myself I wanted again.
I realized recently when I tack up, throw a leg over and move off, that I don’t miss Olive’s fluffy ears and unruly mane anymore. I look forward to looking between Dee’s small, alert bay ears and all that comes our way. Not only because she’s a partner, but because she’s shown me that regardless of owning, not owning, whatever; the world is better viewed between horse’s ears.