Monday, 5 October 2020

Life with horses

I was 20 years old when I galloped on a horse for the first time. My friend had taken me to her barn where we borrowed a horse for me, and we went for a nice, leisurely ride through the German forest. At the end of it, a large meadow separated us from the barn. She turned to me and asked: "Do you want to run home? The horses know the way. All you have to do is to hang on tight." Before I could think of a bunch of excuses not to do it, she kicked her horse softly in the side and took off, with mine following close behind. 

It was one of the biggest thrills of my life. The speed, the wind in my hair, the fear mixed with excitement - it was incredible. When we came to a stop, I felt high. From that moment on I was infatuated with horses.
That experience led me to a ranch in Canada two years later, where I met Rich, which led me to moving to Canada - and a life with horses.   
I never became the accomplished horsewoman I fantasized I would be one day. The loss of control I felt that first time when I galloped across the meadow with my friend turned from being thrilling to being scary. I've never learnt to really control a horse, and to this day I'm a timid rider.

But I love horses. They are amongst the most sensitive, gentle, and calming animals I know, and being with them is like therapy. I love their smell, the way they greet us when they see us in the morning, and that they come to the fence to say hi every time we walk by. 
They are wonderful animals, but they are not cheap. When Rich became sick with Lyme disease three years ago and it looked like he may never be able to ride again, we considered briefly to sell our horses. It would make financial sense, since it would considerably cut down on our feeding bill, we wouldn't have to schlep hay twice a day, and the only thing even cheaper than energy-efficient heaters are not needing heaters at all. 

But we quickly discarded that idea. Even if we would never ride again (but thankfully, we can!), we couldn't imagine a life without horses. They are part of our family just as much as the dogs are. Watching them, working with them, cuddling up to them and just being around them are daily joys that make our life richer. 
While to me, horses are a pleasurable part of life, to Rich they are more than that. Horses are part of his identity. They make up a piece of who he is. He didn't learn to ride until he was 40, when he spontaneously bought his first horse from a horse auction. Not having anticipated to go home with a horse, he didn't bring a trailer (mainly because he didn't own one), so he walked the 7 km home with his new horse in tow.   

It was a match made in heaven. He deeply loves horses, and they love him. They understand each other. Living on a ranch in the wild west is his dream come true, just as for me it is to be a writer who is surrounded by dogs, with the horses grazing outside her window. 
Words are part of my identity - putting them together in a way that is beautiful and makes sense of the world, but also reading them in as many forms as possible: books, newspapers, letters. With part of my family being in Germany, using virtual mail box solutions is a great way to track when post from my sister or nieces are on their way even when I'm not home. 
I'm so grateful for that summer day 20 years ago when my friend introduced me to my first wild ride on a horse. It set a chain of events in motion that led me right here: to a place, people, and a life that suits me perfectly. This is home. 



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