Here’s a little piece I found in my journal from earlier this year. Reading it, I smile . . .
Aria turned eight last month — and indeed, she’s coming together — just lovely!
Yesterday Aria came completely together for me!
In that one ride she transformed from green, still-being-worked-on horse-in-training, to polished riding gem!
It makes me remember the time when that happened with her mother, Fae — in Shadow Hills, exploring the mountains behind Hai Mitchell’s carriage driving facility.
Fae had been there in training for a couple of months, working in harness several times weekly, and in stunning physical condition.
And while out riding the hills that day, she graced me with one of the rides of my life.
I remember it distinctly . . . time stood still.
Suddenly I was re-living the rides of my childhood, my early adulthood, when the kids were young. Fae became a composite of all the horses — real and fantasy — in my life before her.
It took her nine years, yet that day, Fae’s brain and body came together — no longer gangly half-draft (Shire), struggling to sort it all out — but now polished, responsive.
Able to balance her own body, and along with it, balance and carry mine.
Finally ready to really ride and enjoy.
Yesterday, Aria did the same!
It takes such a long time for a horse to mature.
You breed them, birth them. Halter them, wean them. Nurture them, train them.
You feed, and spend — and wait for them to grow. Thinking, hoping, that you know what kind of horse they might be — but not really.
Because, like a little kid, they have so much to to go through.
And there’s so much that can go awry . . . it’s not a given that all turns out as you wish . . .
It takes years of training, painted on in thin layers, each ride and experience building upon those before.
There’s a thrill in that, but the ultimate goal is a seasoned riding horse, whose mind and hooves meld with her rider.
And you can’t push it. Like a blossom, it opens fully in its own time.
So yesterday, Aria gave me glassy perfection!
I re-live it now, with wonder.
I had worked her down the day before, ponying her off of Starboy in a swift loop from the Snow Gate to the “Y”.
Now, ponying Laddie along until we enter the woods, I let him off the rope, running free.
From the beginning, Aria responds immediately, softly, to my lightest signals — my body never coming off her back unless posting.
Her legs, now my legs. Her body, my body.
Melded, married, swiftly moving forward.
Fluid, flying, outside of the day-to-day realm.
Endurance! Speed! Exuberance in motion!
We transit the forest to the sand wash, up Mill Canyon, running the galloping stretch neck-to-neck with Laddie, still loose off the lead.
(Several times, he enjoys positioning himself directly in front of us, deliberately blocking our progress, slowing the pace — Aria’s head shaking in protest with snarly looks and pressed back ears . . . )
Turning back, returning toward home on the “Sneaky Trail,” Aria amps into overdrive, turning up her speed — seeking out the twisting, single-track rut — taking the turns, loops, and swirls like a Disneyland adventure ride!
In a flash I’m back in my childhood: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, The Tea Cups, The Matterhorn, Peter Pan . . .
In her never-ending movement I re-live the Roller Coaster at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, lilting smile upon my face.
Spinning ’round a scrub oak, dodging a thick pinon branch, we sprint up the rise and dip down the back side, in endless loose-reined flight, Laddie following a few lengths behind us.
Now, I feel the spinning, swirling Airplane Ride at Pacific Ocean Park on the end of the Santa Monica Pier.
Laughing, marveling, as Aria’s hooves soar above the ground — I find myself flying my early-twenty’s airplane, my acrobatic glider, my childhood fantasy Pegasus . . .
Oh, to meld with a horse like this!
On her, I body-surf waves, slalom moguls, and pilot my fighter jet, surpassing supersonic speeds!
And I realize that this ride marks the fulfillment of my dreams and fantasies, not just for her, but for all the horses in my life. Deep-seated childhood dreams . . .
I want to have horses.
I want to raise horses.
From babies, from foals.
I want to ride horses on endless trails —
that’s what I want in my life.
And I take a moment and remember all that Aria, my third-generation home-bred mare, and I have been through to get this far:
* The morning, as a newborn, she scrapped to stand on straggly legs.
* Hauling her to the Vet hospital — numerous times — to nurse her wounds and afflictions.
(I remember the evening, as a four-month-old, both veterinarians wanted to put her down, right then — her knee shattered and broken. But she pulled through, she recovered! Not just that, but her hind leg kicked, and resulting surgery, massive vet bills, aftercare. And last year, to the hospital, again.)
* When Ella and I rode her on those the first few rides, reveling in her smooth gaits, her calm, confident demeanor. Deciding that she is exactly the horse one wants to replicate — thus breeding her for filly, Hokuleia, and then, Fae again, for little brother, Noir, to preserve her bloodlines . . .
* Training, nurturing, feeding, board, care . . . all that goes in to breeding and raising and bringing up a horse like this.
And I realize that it’s taken seven full years, and then some — for her to come together! Finally now mature. Reliable. Ready for our endless future adventures.
Last year, one of the teenage kids at the riding program Aria went to for training commented, “Someday, I want to have a horse like this!”
My reply: “You cannot buy a horse like Aria — no one will sell them. You have to make one!”
I’m beaming right now with the accomplishment! :))
Read more about Aria here: Aria, My Pegasus