Sue and Carter Enjoying the Ride
Photo: Chuck Swan / Swan Studios LLC

My favorite part of the day is heading to the barn, because that means that in a few short minutes I’ll be riding. I’ll be bonding. I’ll be learning. And, I’ll be enjoying something that I never, in my life, thought I could experience. The joy of the ride.

Now, I cannot qualify as an expert. I’m not even sure I qualify as an intermediate rider at this point. But, I can tell you that each time I ride, it’s the most fun, most energizing, and most centering thing I’ve ever done.

Yes, it’s challenging. Yes, it’s hard. But, if all those things weren’t part of it, I’d never be able to qualify a good ride or the difference between training levels.

Carter and I have been having the rides of our lives lately (albeit 365-days of a life together so far). We’re learning new things each ride. I belly laugh like a toddler each and every time I have him in a collected canter. I can’t help myself, it’s spontaneous. Let’s hope that I’m able to get it under control before show season, but hey, if I belly laugh during a test that should only show that I’m enjoying the ride, right? I feel when he falls in. I feel when we have a connection. Wow… if that’s not the best cure for any stress that I may have been carrying that day!

We’ve also created a connection outside of the arena that I’ve never had with anything before. I can feel when he’s happy (thankfully, most often). I can tell when he’s really irritated with me (like this week when I didn’t put his cover on and it was low 30s complete with Sandy remnant winds). I’ve been fortunate – he’s a good keeper and aside from the bumps, scrapes, and his affinity for nearly missing his eyeballs constantly, he’s healthy, happy, and sound. He’s not much of a talker, so I’m still waiting for the day to hear him nicker. But I know when he’s happy to see me (maybe it’s the carrots and the apples…maybe… or the fact that he knows every once in a while I’ll have made him cookies… nonetheless, he’s happy). And, I know that I’m always overjoyed to see him.

We’re experiencing barn drama. Who doesn’t, right? Seriously folks… remember that we’re fortunate to have these 1,200-pound creatures, we’re lucky to have them safe and sound and well cared for, we benefit from their just being here every day… so maybe we can focus on them more and less on who said what, or whose discipline doesn’t match yours, or whatever the gripe of the week seems to be. Go to ride your horse. Don’t go to get the latest gossip. Take it somewhere else!

For those of you who are still learning this fascinating thing called horses; are you like me feeling like a kid that’s experiencing everything for the first time? Do you belly laugh when you get collection in the canter? I. Love. It. For those who have been riding for years and likely have made connection an every-ride thing (I don’t know if you do… not saying you do… but I imagine after you’re there you try to make it a common thing forever) really FEEL it the next time you ride. I can almost promise you… a belly laugh will emerge.

Belly laugh. Enjoy the ride!