Wednesday, October 21, 2015

riding the real and imagined big bay horse

Something reminded me this morning that ever since I was very young, as early as I can remember, really, I rode a big bay horse every time I rode in the car with my parents or anyone else. 

In my imagined ride, I walked and trotted and cantered and galloped alongside the car I was in, on the terrain that paralleled the roadway. There were obstacles. Ditches and fences and forests and things that had to be jumped or sometimes ridden around.

It was me on that big bay horse, everywhere I went. For years and years of my life, until I got my first horse, a chestnut with a wide white blaze and four white socks, and then again when he was sold after I went off to college.

Even as an adult I realized I still rode the big bay, off to the far right of the green minivan, with my children in their carseats in back. I think that big bay became my guardian, or maybe just a reminder that I was born wanting to ride and even during periods of time when I didn't, the desire remained, and was, in a way, fulfilled by my imagination.

It was no surprise that when I typed in my dream horse to DreamHorse.com I typed in a big bay with a white star. I've recounted that story several times here - the result of that query was Keil Bay, the REAL Big Bay, who has turned out to be the actual dream horse come true for me.

We've been riding again last week and this week after several months off. He is a horse who, when I take him into the arena and drop the rein to go set right a dressage marker that was tipped over by donkeys, marches to the mounting block and lines himself up and waits for me to come get on. 

He is the horse who reminds me that he needs shoulder-in to work out the stiffness, and who shows me that was the exact right thing to do by offering a big lovely trot just after the shoulder-in.

At the end of the ride he lines up perfectly so I can dismount onto the mounting block, and waits patiently while I climb down to the ground and dig out his peppermint from my pocket. He follows me to the gate and goes ahead when I ask him to the tack room door where he waits while I take off his bridle and saddle and give him his Chaffhaye.

He is the horse who, in the midst of eating, which he loves to do, he will stop and turn around and touch his muzzle to my hand, a gesture I can only take to mean something good and kind.

I'm reminded that somehow, even as a little girl, I made up this big bay horse and the spirit of him and the image of him persisted into middle life and then manifested perfectly. When I ride him now I think how lucky I am and how grateful I am and when I get off and give him the peppermint I say thank you and I tell him that he's the best horse in the whole world. He is 26 years old and I know now that every single ride is a gift. Dressage is a not something I care much about these days, but it is a remedy, exercises that sustain us physically, not something that happens in an arena with a judge sitting at the end. Piaffe is no longer in the picture as far as I'm concerned. 

Shoulder-in has become the most important piece of dressage work we do. It supples and seems almost like a healing balm. I see him doing it sometimes along the fence line in the pastures.

I'm rambling here but thinking about how sometimes there is a single line we can draw through an entire lifetime, a thing that has sustained us and been with us and remains. For me it's the big bay horse, always with me, always moving forward. And right now, I'm going to go give him a double pack peppermint and just breathe him in for awhile. 




10 comments:

Kate said...

Maybe your thought and desire brought him into life, or maybe his brought you, or maybe both . . .

billie said...

Both, I think, Kate!

WendyFromNY said...

That is so weird. My family traveled a lot in the summers when I was a youngster, and I used to do the same thing! I would imagine a horse running alongside our car, jumping whatever obstacles came up, or running into the road to pass a building...sure passed a lot of hours that way. We traveled in the western states very often, and there were a lot of open spaces for a horse to cover! Glad to hear I'm not the only kid who did that!

billie said...

Yay, Wendy! We have the beginnings of a tribe. :) I can imagine the western US landxcape made for perfect rides.

Grey Horse Matters said...

You and the big bay were always meant to be together. He is your dream horse and you are his dream person. I hope you have many more wonderful years to be with each other.

billie said...

Arlene, it's so true. I hope we have a lot of years too. How is your riding going? I'm watching for your next blog post. :)

Grey Horse Matters said...

Sorry to say I haven't been riding lately. Dusty had a mild flare up of laminitis and Blue seems a bit off too. Soon though I hope.

billie said...

Cody is still healing from the abscess so I totally get it. I was considering riding the Little Man yesterday and today - he keeps whinnying at me and following me around. :)

nuri said...

A very shiny black stallion. That was the horse I saw running alongside my dad's car... I never made it beyond the imaginary dream horse, though, which is very sad, but also a good thing: I don't think I could have done him justice. Dreams cannot always come true.

I love this beautiful post and wish you and your very real dream horse many, many more happy years together!

billie said...

Nuri, I love that you had (and maybe still have?!) a beautiful shiny black stallion dream horse running alongside you. Thank you for your wonderful wishes. I feel them and appreciate them!!