For The Love Of A Horse

Posted: 06/20/2012 by erichblayde in A Different Outlook, Friends, Happenings, Human Experience, Humour, It Gets Better
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A friend of mine recently mentioned they had had fun engaging in their hobby of lawn bowling. This of course made me think of my own hobby, and the evening I spent in bed in severe pain thanks to my last experience with my hobby. Some people collect books, some people play tennis, but the unmuffled mind has a different idea of fun.

“Heels down, eyes up, shoulders back, look where you’re going…inside rein outside leg, outside rein inside leg” all these are called to me while I attempt to ask 1300 pounds of horse not to kill me for my ignorance. I have 20 years of experience with horses but nothing could have prepared me for the dreaded art of dressage.

I first realized my love of horses when I was 3 years old. The story is still told of how my mother and I were over at my grandparents home for an evening meal. I had become upset at my mother’s insistance that I go to bed and impetuously took off out the front door. As nightfall set in and I was nowhere to be found panic ensued, a panic that quickly turned laughter when I was located, fast asleep curled between the massive front hooves of a1500 pound Clydesdale named Jumbo. Though I cannot remember that time, I fully believe that was the moment I fell in love with the majestic animal called the horse.

Growing up we did not have enough money to afford riding lessons but I had a good fortune to be able to ocasionally have rides on friends horses. In this horse friendly but not horse-centric atmosphere I continued until my eleventh year, when the passing of my mother and the homophobic refusal of my family to allow me to stay with the guardian my mother had chosen, decreed that I was to move in with my aunt, who just so happened to own 40 thoroughbred racehorses. My love for these creatures quickly turned to disgust after the first 10 stamped toes, but despite a soaring ice pack bill, I was hooked.

I grew up from then on mucking stalls, walking in circles, getting soaked during bath time and catching naps on a hay bale during race days. Some of my fondest memories are of being in a truck with the comforting stamp of horses feet in the trailer behind us. As I grew so did my love of horses, I learned to plunge fearlessly into into a nickering whinnying pack of horses waiting at the paddock gate for their walk in to dinner. I learned to birth a foal, how to pick hooves and wrap legs. And so too I learned to apply horse linement to my own bruises, to ignore bitten arms and crushed fingers, how to swear like a trucker, and where to put an elbow to avoid certain trampling.

I grew to love to speed and power and majestic nature of the thoroughbred horse. So too did I grow to loathe their high strung nervous nature and propensity for kicking at everything for absolutely no reason.

After I left my family’s home I took some time away from my beloved horses. I was young queer and a drunk and anything was more important than those beautiful creatures I had left at home on the farm. But within the first hours of my sobriety I found myself again longing for the carefree freedom found only on the back of a plunging thoroughbred.

Fate it seemed had a different idea, and I quickly found my self employed as a standardbred racing groom. For those of you unschooled in horse culture, a thoroughbred is the type of horse that you actually ride in a race (think the ascot darlings) a standardbred is a sulky racer (not chuck wagons thank god), and the competition between the two schools of racing is fierce. Thoroughbred racing folks believe standardbred racers are hokey, grass roots hayseeds with no real class, while standardbred racing folk believe thoroughbred racers to be snobbish up tight cruel people who have no real love of their horse. Needless to say after a decade in the thoroughbred world it was a bit of a switch. Thankfully my beloved horses chose to teach me quickly that a horse is a horse of course and yes they ALL kick. After a further 6 years of horse infusion I left the mainland and the horse world to pursue other adventures. I did not do so lightly but situations in my life forced me to leave my beloved horses until an undetermined date.

Now, 2 years later I have been presented with the opportunity to learn yet another little piece of the horse world, but this time it has nothing to do with going fast and nothing to do with moving in a crowd of horses.

The only thing that remains the same is the fact that a horse is a horse of course and yes these ones kick too.

Where horse time once was a delightfully comforting routine filled with things that I knew to do by rote, I now find myself in a bewilderment. My stirrups are too long, my horse is too slow and I have no idea why on earth I would want to go on a diagonal. I find myself spending every moment I am on a horse, hooked to a lunge line trying to reconcile in my brain that not all moments on a horse require you to lean forward and go fast.

Despite my utter confusion I am left to draw the same conclusion I have always drawn.

A horse is a horse of course and although it might not be there to race, it might not even like to trot, it will always kick and I will always love it

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