Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Ride on the Blessed Beast

I got to ride Stella this weekend, even though it was terribly cold and she was energetic from her long break from work. 
I went to the barn on Friday to clean some stalls and brush the horses. I helped brush Chester and then got Stella so that I could give her a very thorough grooming. I picked her feet, curried her, combed her mane and tail, brushed her face, brushed her body, rubbed her body, straightened her mane (I made sure her forelock was in the middle of her forehead and brought all of her funky mane to one side.), and put some ointment on a wound. She also got some peppermints, which she loves. 
On Saturday, I actually rode. I brushed Stella and put her on the longe line for a while. She's in season, she hadn't worked in ages, and it was cold. All of that together should have meant that Stella would be a lit firecracker between my thighs. She was a very good girl, though. She moved so wonderfully off my leg and worked so beautifully, even though she kept on asking me to let her go faster. I cued her into a trot, and it felt amazing. She got a little crazy after a while. I had a bottle of my pain pills in my pocket, and it was rattling every time I rose to the trot. I decided to take off my jacket; I wasn't that cold, and Stella did calm down a little bit after I put my jacket over the fence rail. A few times, Stella actually broke into a canter when I applied my leg at the trot. She was having a great time, and she was just begging to canter. I finally let her canter, and she really put everything she had into it. She was never out of control or behaving badly by any means. She just gave me a very powerful, energetic canter. It was truly amazing. I even allowed her to hand-gallop a little. It was somewhat difficult for me to two-point because I was using Larry's saddle and the horn kept getting in my way. It was okay, though. We had a blast. Stella was extremely responsive. As soon as I sat down in the saddle, she slowed to a normal canter, and deepening my seat and slightly squeezing the reins halted her. 
I'm happy that she was happy to make me happy :) I miss her so much when I'm at school, and I miss riding her all the time. I can't believe that I hated her when I first started to ride her. 
I think I've already written about Mac once or twice in this blog, but I'll tell the story again. Mac was euthanized about a year and a half ago. I had been working with him in the same way that I work with Stella now--he was really Larry's horse, but he was mine on his papers and I was his main caretaker and the only person who ever really rode him. He developed some kind of neurological disease and kept falling, but we thought he was going to get better. I didn't really expect to ride him again, but I didn't expect him to die. He was in the prime of life; he was about to turn 10. 
I never wanted to go back to the barn. I just wanted to give up on riding, and basically living. Larry eventually "forced" me to come back to the barn (To this day, I assert that he MADE me come back, even though I really think there was tiny little part of me left that wanted to go back and try to rebuild my life.) and got me to ride another person's horse at Mindy's house. I made excuses--I didn't have a helmet, my hip hurt, everything--so that I wouldn't have to ride the horse, but I eventually mounted up in a gigantic, borrowed helmet and rode the horse without stirrups around the ring. I cried the entire time. Mindy tried to get me to smile every time I passed her, but I couldn't. I just cried harder. 
Then, I went to our barn for the first time after Mac died, and I cried again. Mac's stall was empty, and I couldn't go in there for a long time. I couldn't walk on or face that side of the barn for a while either. I started riding Stella, and she gave me a whole lot of crap. She basically did the stuff that she does when she's nervous--spooking, bolting, wheeling around, throwing her head into the air. I spent a long time just angry with her. I hated her. I didn't want to deal with her. I wanted to go home and never ride again. I don't know what happened. I guess I realized that Mac wasn't coming back and that I was going to have to work with Stella from then on. I actually felt, for a while, that Mac's death was a sick joke and that he'd be in his stall the next time I went out to the barn and we'd all have a good laugh about how cute he was when he was lying in the stall and eating his hay while lying on a pillow of saddle blankets. I didn't want to love Stella because I didn't want her to be able to "replace" Mac, so maybe being angry with her was my screwed-up way of protecting myself. 
I thought I might share that before I say the next thing. Yesterday night, however, I was playing with Stella in the crossties and brushing her face. I looked into her eyes, and I swear I was brought to tears out of my love for her. It was a beautiful moment. I love her so much. 
I'm tearing up now.
Today I also went to the barn. I cleaned a stall and then played with Stella in her stall for a while. She loves gloves, so she played with my gloves for a while. She also played with my jacket and its zipper. Then she nipped me, so she had to get slapped on the shoulder. She got over it, though, and we played some more. I petted her a lot and scratched her neck, and I said goodbye to her before I had to leave. 
I can't wait until I get to see her again on Friday :) I'll have a whole month to play with her.

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