Saturday, December 23, 2006

It's Ike and Cheri's fault

I sometimes feel like a stranger in a strange barn.

We love our crazy horse, and we are learning what we need to do to channel Lena's natural exuberance into reasonable arena behavior, but we're not perfect and that sometimes creates conflict with other riders. This is also exceedingly difficult in winter when stuck indoors, by the way.

Oh, my kingdom for a trailer and another horse, but we're not there, yet. Oh, and no rain, either.

Here's the thing. We learned to ride up at Slide Mountain, where sometimes you have to ride through the craziness because that's what you do, that's part of how you build the relationship with the horse. The horses Ike and Cheri raise are strong and energetic and fun to ride, so you work with it because it's more fun, more rewarding, than just sitting on a horse's back and letting them do all the work.

It's definitely not that you let them get away with bad behavior, either. Ike and Cheri are just more accepting of horses with Lena's energy level and of people like us who love to work with that energy.

And why work with a horse like Lena? Because you can feel it when she taps into the power in her own body. It comes up through the saddle into your spine, straight up into your heart and soul - a simple joy that feels like flying. It's not even speed, per se. It's whether she's having fun or just going through the motions because it's better than being in her pen. And, yes, I can feel the difference and the experience is infinitely better when she's having fun.

Lena is a lot of horse and working with her isn't easy, but it offers more reward than almost anything else I do every day. (Even if it does make my arms ache on occasion.)

Ike and Cheri taught us to love horses like Lena, horses that challenge you and help you grow as a rider. I guess that makes us wild and crazy, too, but life's too short for boring.

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