Chester in his field

It is Saturday, September 24…barn owner/manager extraordinaire Jennifer Burnham and I are setting up the jump courses for one of the awesome schooling shows that Jen runs out of her very own Maplewood Stables.

I was pretty excited because Jen asked me if I wanted to design the jump courses for her.  Because she is crazy: She. Never. Delegates.  So, I wanted to impress her so she would ask me to do it again.

I had to design 7 courses from a 12 inch x rail class to a 3” Foot Open Jumper and everything else in between.  Personally, I think I did a great job.  The mother of the kid who did a faceplant into one of the standards probably didn’t think so though…

Anyways, late in the afternoon, I am walking out behind the barn to get my new mare Colby, and stop dead in my tracks.  My jaw slowly drops.  I stare, in disbelief, as Chester does gallop laps around his field with his neck stretched flat out and his tail stuck straight up in the air like some arab whose butt is on fire, slow to a ‘Look at me, I can trot a ‘10’ trot’, come to a dead stop annnnnnnd repeat.  This went on for a good 15 minutes…to the point where I thought 2 completely different things at the exact same time.

1.  OMFG – I have to go get him right now before he screws himself up again.

2.  OMFG – I haven’t seen him move like that since last fall!!! He must be feeling pretty good.

On Tuesday, I get to the barn and am on my way to get Colby…from Monday evening to Tuesday evening, she decided it would be a good idea to get a nasty gash on the inside of her hind left leg, right below her ankle.  Sigh.  Thanks a lot horse.  Yes, I could have ridden her and yes I was probably over reacting, but I decided to err on the side of caution and forgo the ride.  I mean, come on, she is a baby and it isn’t like we are going to Morven this weekend or anything….why push it?

“Why don’t you get on Chester?”

I look up from Colby’s leg to Jen and go ‘What?’

“Why don’t you get on Chester”

“I heard what you said.”

I get a ‘look’.

I give her one back.

“Carrie, he is obviously feeling better, why don’t you get on him and see how he feels.”

Well, in my head, I had a million reasons why I didn’t think it was a good idea.  I also had the one logical reason: What do I have to lose?  Worse case, he still feels as horrible as he did in February at which point we give him more time. I start to get anxious.  Sweaty palms, stomach feels like just ate 2 KFC Double Downs (and yes, I have had a bite of one…it was enough to make me queasy for an hour) and my voice starts to shake when I try to talk….

OMG, WHAT am I about to do?!  This is stupid.  I shouldn’t be doing this….the completely illogical and irrational side of my brain says…while the thinking calmly with a clear frame of mind side says: Shut up ass…you’ll know within 3 seconds how he is going to feel and if it isn’t good, then you get off and give him more time.  Get over yourself.

I hate my brain.

Barn Owner/Manager extraordinaire – Jennifer Burnham and Painted Sky, warming up at Canterdown.

I tack him up and wouldn’t you know, the damn horse doesn’t flinch.  Once.  When I was doing up his girth and putting his bridle on, you would have though the last time he had had these things on was 7 hours ago…not 7 months ago.   Leading him into the arena you would have thought I was about to ride my first ever Intermediate xc course (which I have never had the grateful opportunity to experience…yet).

Standing on the mounting block, the reality of what I was about to do really hit me.  As I stood there trying to keep my emotions in check (and failing miserably) all I could think about was OMG – I hope this isn’t too soon.  At this point, Jen pretty much had to make me get on him.  Thank you Jen, for pushing me when you know best…which is basically all the time.

I took a deep breath and felt myself putting my leg over the saddle and then all of a sudden…there I was… sitting on top of the horse who I had so many dreams for, had so much trust in, had broken my heart so many times over the past 9 months…

Where is Tom Hanks when I need him to tell me: “THERE’S NO CRYING IN HORSEBACK RIDING!!”

It took me a minute to get myself together…then Chester snorted that “I’m really relaxed and feel good, what the hell is the problem up there?” snort and – of course – that didn’t help me to get myself together in any way shape or form.

I have just sat here for a good 3 or 4 minutes thinking about how I was feeling when I sat up there for the first time in 7 months and trying to come up with a way to put it into words that would do it justice.

I can’t.

I have never – ever – felt the range of emotion going through me then I did in the time I was standing on the mounting block – fear, anxiety, hope – to swinging my leg over the saddle and sitting on his back again – exhilaration, fear (again), hope (again), pure happiness – to feeling what he felt like when he took his first couple steps – hope, determination, perseverance.

This horse –for some God forsaken reason – means more to me then almost anything else in my measly existence and getting up on his back again was the best 15 minutes of my life.  He didn’t feel like my Chester…but he definitely felt 90% there.

VIDEO: Of yours truly bawling like a baby…you saw it here first…

When I watched that video for the first time – It made me start crying all over again.  He looks pretty proud of himself doesn’t he?  (And I am pretty sure he is embarrassed beyond belief at his sniveling passenger.)