There are so many things we know we take for granted. As in, there are so many things we understand, comprehend, and do that we take for granted. We often forget what it was like not to know something or to be without the skills we have now. Totally understandable though. We’ve all spent a lot of time learning and doing and being that we’re probably pretty used to it.
I was five the first time I learned to tack a horse. I’m a small person – I’ve never quite been able to get my saddle on a horse’s back easily. But then, it was obviously harder, and it was so difficult to get right. Not just because I wasn’t even taller than 3’6, but more due to my lack of horsey knowledge. I’d fiddle with my saddle, tweaking to get it just right before I got on for a long time. And then, all of a sudden it’s today and I don’t think twice about how to tack a horse. My hands find the buckles which find the right holes which find the keepers. I instinctively know how tight my girth is, and I don’t have the worry my saddle might slide around. It’s one of those things I just do, I don’t think about.
Come to think of it, there are a lot of things I don’t think about. It’s intuitive now to feel my diagonal as the trot starts. The right lead is effortless. Most (some) of the time, meeting the jumps feels seamless and I don’t count strides under my breath anymore. I don’t have to think, I just have to do.
My dad used to tell me all the time how it’s just time in saddle. I’d be so frustrated he knew things I couldn’t really get then. How did he just know, how did he just do stuff like that? “It’s just time in saddle, Bec.” I didn’t understand then, but as time as gone on and I’ve spent more time in the saddle, I’m starting to.
It’s been over 20 years since the first time I got on a horse. I’m still an amateur, which is a beautiful thing because there’s no way I could compete with a professional. But I am beginning to learn that it’s important to cherish the things we know and that we take for granted. I read a friend’s story about how she was learning things as an adult. I think a lot of people do. Personally, I didn’t – I’ve known a lot of these things for many, many years. I have years ahead of me, too. There’s a lot of time in saddle left in front of me.
I know how to perform a lot of very basic equine first aid. I know what to do when a shoe is thrown, when colic presents, and when a wild horse dumps their rider. Thankful for my experience, I don’t often stop to appreciate what I intrinsically know… yet when I do, the nostalgia and feelings of surety compare with nothing else.I know how to wrap a wound, how to relax a stressed horse, how to protect my tack from the rain. How to try again tomorrow when what I wanted to do didn’t work today.
“Of course you know that – how long have you been riding, anyway?” A friend recently asked me. She’s new to the barn, and only recently did she start leasing her own horse. The conversation came about as I sat on her tack trunk, answering yes, your boots are on right. Yes, you put the saddle high enough on his withers. “22 years,” I replied, remembering what it was like to not know, “It’s just time in saddle, anyway.”
Oh, what I know now.