If you need to catch up on my posts about my journey back from a fall, click here!
My day job is pretty intellectual and analytical. I love to learn. But at some point, I need to leave all that thinking behind. When I’m in the saddle, I need to be totally present, stop thinking, and just feel the ride.
Rebuilding my relationship with my riding and with Charlie Brown, letting go becomes even more important. We need to reconnect and feel each other’s thoughts. Turning off my cerebral nature is one thing. But when I start to get nervous, I can get back to over-thinking in a second! Turning that off is a tall order indeed.
Then came the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. So my regular schedule of getting Charlie exercised got knocked a little off kilter. But kindly, my trainer, Deysha, invited me on a Thanksgiving Day ride with her, and her mare Kazoomie. Deysha is a dedicated dressage rider. But she also knows the value of a good long trail ride.
Fortunately, being located in Rock Creek Park, we are blessed to have literally miles of bridle trails throughout a national park. The trails can be rocky in spots. But there are also fantastic hills, steps, some open spaces, and even a few strategically placed logs that make for excellent jumping. And true to its name, there’s a creek that’s perfect for splashing in with a hot horse on a summer afternoon. It’s a treasure hidden in plain sight — a forest paradise nestled a mere five miles from the White House. People drive by it or through it all day long, and easily never realize what is there.
I’ve been out on trail plenty before, but in all candor, something about it has scared me. I think it’s my lack of directional ability. If I know where I’m going, then I’m pretty good. But I can get lost relatively easily, and it drives me bonkers. Actually, it scares me silly. Plus, sometimes people I’ve gone out with and who know the trails better want to ride a lot faster or more aggressively than I’m comfortable doing. But since my fall, I’m not super keen on going out on trail alone. So, frankly, I’ve avoided it.
But, on Thanksgiving afternoon, while most other people were stuffing themselves with turkey, Deysha, Kazoomie, Charlie, and I set out on a relaxed and decidedly un-cerebral trail ride. We didn’t go anywhere that would make a travel brochure — just a wide sweeping loop south, from the barn, to the creek, along the creek, back up the hill, to a field, and through the woods back home.
It was just what the doctor ordered for Charlie and me. I didn’t ask him to do anything complicated or fancy. We took a trail I knew. We didn’t get lost, courtesy of our riding buddy. We just rode. We were only out for about an hour.
But it moved our relationship forward a lot more. And hopefully my confidence, too…