All to myself

Last night was one of those rare nights that I had the barn all to myself. There was no one up at the house, no riders jockeying for a spot to groom and tack, no loud, high pitched moms interrupting and whinnying about crap.

There was no one hogging the far end of the arena, cutting you off, or sitting on a horse talking on their cell phone in the middle of everything.

It was pure heaven.

I had the good cross ties all to myself so I spent extra time grooming.  I could hear the swish of the brush on my mare’s fur and I realized how the quiet of the barn wrapped me like a warm bath and every inch of me relaxed. It has been a long time. This is what the barn is supposed to be.

We have gotten crazy busy at the barn, good for business not good for all those reason I live for being at the barn, to relax. I’ve reached the point where I’ve been rushing to the barn after work, getting my time in, lessons done, battles with the mare over and getting out of there before one more idiotic mom or rider pushes me off the deep end.

Tonight was special.

As my foot fell upon the first step of the mounting block, I had a deja vu moment and suddenly, I was taken back to a morning as a child. Life was so simple then. The smell of cold air was the same and I could see my breath as I exhaled, just like I did on those stolen mornings before anyone was awake.

At 52 years old, I felt the exhilarating tingle run up my spine just as it did back when I was 10 years old. Knowing I was breaking the rules and sneaking a secret ride.  At ten I did not have a mounting block but a few poorly stacked buckets or scaling a stall door got me where I need to be, within reach of tossing a leg over the back of my best friend.

The echoing crunch of my mare’s hooves in the sand sent my soul flying. I quickly looked around half-expecting my dad to come through the arena door with his pretend anger flaring. I recall acting out the same anger when I caught my son sneaking a secret morning ride.  As a parent, I know now if it wasn’t forbidden it wouldn’t have been half as fun or as memorable.

Last night, I let my mind remain back when I was ten. As we rode around the arena, I gave no notice to leg position, I did not demand collection, and I did not focus on bend or suppleness. The mare and I just flew and she gave me everything.