Last week was one of those kinds of week. Work was crazy. Every night I came home beat, unable to focus and get anything done, and frustrated because there is so much I should get done.

Yes, my fence is finished and I am certainly thankful for that! But now I desperately need to seal the wooden portion of my fence so the cedar doesn’t turn an ugly gray. And I should be doing that right now. But I spent a good part of the day doing some lawn work.

I so need a self-propelled lawn mower! I’m borrowing a push mower because my lawn tractor won’t climb these hills. I know they don’t look like much but my legs say that they are mountainous.

And I have all these sticks to clean up. What the heck is with hiding lawn litter in the woods?!

This would have been a good idea if it was in the sun. I don’t think composters in the shade do very well. Maybe add worms?

Of course, Java likes the abundant supply of chew toys.

Along with the sealing of the fence, the deck needs to be pressure washed and sealed. But it also needs a new rail and a flashing should be installed between deck and house, which means pulling out some boards and the bottom row of siding. Why don’t people do things right in the first place?

And I still haven’t painted the front door.

So the riding lesson I’d been look forward to on Saturday afternoon just became one more thing to do on my list. Plus I hadn’t ridden since last Saturday so I was thinking how Luke and I haven’t worked much on what we were taught last month and what a total horse-person loser I am.

I rushed out to the barn last minute because as is my usual style, when I have somewhere to be, I try to get a bunch a stuff done beforehand. Too many things. There was cookie baking.

And my bread baking time almost made me late for my lesson.

So I drove like a lunatic, waited for Luke to quit running away from me, did a slam-bang grooming and tacking up job, and then warmed up for the lesson. I was feeling pretty stressed and cranky.

But then I rode. And I breathed. And I felt that connection that aligns my world again.

I wish I had photos because I hear we looked amazing.

I am so proud of my Luke. Mary Beth said we were going to push him to do things that were probably going to frustrate him. We were going to try to shorten his frame. We were going to try and put some hesitation in his trot, some half halts.

She expected Luke to get a bit testy and act up. But bless my even-keel horse (thank God one of us is), besides leaning on my hands at times, he did it! All of it! We even got a 3 beat canter out of him for a few strides! Because he’s gaited, that’s tough. It’s natural for him to do a 4 beat canter.

What really got me to appreciate what Luke was managing was when Mary Beth explained just how hard it was for horses, especially one built like Luke, to do what we were asking. She told me about another client who put a heart monitor on her endurance horse.

The horse could go just fine to the left, his good side. He went 9 mph and his heart rate was steady and at a good level. Going to the right, his bad side, he could only go 7 mph and his hear rate doubled. This was a horse that could go 100 miles in two days, but was exhausted after 20 minutes of dressage.

So like I said, I am so proud of my little mutt horse. Mary Beth said his trot is very light and pretty. The canter is tough because of the gaitedness, but can be improved little by little.

During the lesson, she had me wait to feel Luke lighten in front, then tickle his hind quarters with my whip before asking for canter to get him to tuck his tail and scoot his rear underneath himself more, ask for canter and let my inside rein out to allow him to lift forward. The last canter we picked up, the one that was three beat, was so light and smooth, I’m sure my smile went from ear to ear.

We go back to trot after a few strides of canter so we are always working on a good canter and stop before it goes flat and unbalanced. Hopefully, his muscles will remember the feeling with repetition and he’ll be able to maintain it longer and longer.

And the other piece that made my whole day and may sustain me for the rest of my harried work week? Mary Beth said I have a good feel when I ride. I do the right things at the right time. I have good timing. That I have natural ability.

Wow! Hearing that meant the world to me.

Riding feels like home to me. It’s where I feel right. It’s nice to get confirmation that what I feel, is not just pride and wishful thinking.

My instincts on a horse are good. I can trust myself in this. And maybe I can trust myself in other areas as well.

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  1. There goes that Luke again ~ helping you navigate life:-) What a wonderful feeling that must be…to feel one with such a strong beautiful creature. I know nothing about horses, but I know your words sound great when you write of him. There’s a reason they use horses for therapy with many children. Man, those cookies look fabulous! That ought to help you get through the week:-) Kathleen

  2. Dang, if that Luke isn’t better than a therapist! I’m so glad you took time for a ride.

    Now girl, those cookies…I could smell them from waaaay over at my place. What are they? Could ya toss one my way or post the recipe???

    Have a glorious day sweetie!!!

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