Today Sage and I passed a milestone. We loped together. Yes, I have been riding for a long time. And yes, I have loped before, a few times on other horses. This time was different. It was my horse and I working together.
Why did it take so long on my own horse? What you may or need to know about me is that I have to have a plan and I have to be more than ready and able to do something before I attempt it. I do not like to fall and I do not like to feel out of control. It was quite a big thing for me to honor my control issues a while back. With the Year of the Horse opening a new window of growth and energy this year, I am committing to letting the old need for perfection to fall away. What I am welcoming is faith that I have what I need to succeed.
My trainer gets lots of love from me and Sage today. Mary is wise beyond her years of horse experience. She is intuitive and can read the energy of my horse and me as we work. Just listening to her has brought awareness of me and my horse to a different level. We have been working in a progressive way over the last few weeks, leading toward those few moments of sheer joy today. My body and mind were both conditioned to the new pace and energy of Sage. And thanks to more consistency, Sage was ready too. I am so grateful for my trainer.
One of the young women at the barn, Callie, has been riding Sage when I cannot for two reasons. One, my girl has a hay belly acquired over the last 6 weeks while I was sick or my schedule kept me from a regular riding schedule. And two, this will keep Sage working more consistently so every day is not a new day in class. Callie is a talented young horsewoman with a gentle touch. She and Sage work well together. She had loped Sage and shared how smooth her gait is. I am so grateful for my barn family.
I dreamed of loping Sage a few days ago, and pictured how the transition would look moving from our extended trot to the rolling rhythm of a lope. So while warming up, Mary suggested this could be the day. And of course after I shared my dream, it became the day! We trotted and worked until the arena was clear. I felt nervous and excited at the same time. Mary lengthened my stirrups and we began the escalation to a fast trot to lope. Sage played stubborn, laying her ears flat back. So we danced, and danced. We learned a new command-QUIT! Eventually the ears softened, still back, but soft and no attitude with her head. And the fast trot was killing me. I knew I need to give her more leg, but when I did I felt unbalanced. We rested and started again several times. I was aware that some of my barn family was lined up along the side of the arena rails, encouraging us. I was tired and did not want to give up.
As we walked the last time, I chatted with Sage, sharing my nervous anticipation, my slight sense of imbalance as we trotted fast and I had to give my heel to her side to prompt her. Her ears moved back and forth catching all my murmurings. The next time we started off, I took a couple of hard trot rounds and finally as we came around the turn I breathed hard and I sunk into my saddle and pressed my heels down in the stirrups. Feeling balanced I smooched and tapped her with my heel, hard. And again, and again I urged her, and there it was. For just a short time, around the bend and up the straight, I rocked with the rhythm of my sweet Sage. What was magical is that I was breathing; I remembered to press my heels down and held my knees firm. And rolled with it. I pulled her up as we were both tired and I wanted to end on a high note.
Tears welled up. I rubbed and praised my good girl. Mary came to our side, full of joy and praise. She and I shared the joy of this new level of bonding between me and Sage. I dismounted and hugged my horse and rubbed her favorite spot between her ears. She lowered her head, relaxing into the love. I hugged my trainer, I cried a little. And wow, I had loped with my horse!
I walked her out of the arena, unsaddled her and walked her a bit to cool down. We walked up to the pasture and I hugged her again before I set her free to join her herd. I went about putting tack away and loading the truck. As I drove home, my heart swelled. This was the feeling I had after giving birth, cresting the rim of the Grand Canyon, the last day of radiation, finishing the triathlon, a sense of personal power, that nothing is impossible. The difference now is that I get to have this any time I ride or play/work with Sage. Building and renewing confidence in myself through my bond with my Sage- equine partner and teacher. Knowing that this feeling will ripple through every step of my day, every food choice, every life decision. I am grinning and grateful at this moment.