I love him even more than the day we first met

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Last Sunday was the anniversary of the day we met. Time rolls by, but our love is as fresh as a dewdrop on a red rose, and though we get a little older every day, and this sags and that jiggles, and grey hairs creep in, when our eyes meet, we don’t see wear and tear — we just fall in love all over again, each and every morning.

I know. So sappy and annoying. But that’s how love is — true, deep, mad love, the kind that reaches beyond space and time, an ethereal, eternal bond… two halves of one shared soul. When I gaze at him, I’m staring at a miracle. Pure starlight from the ancient heavens courses through his veins, and I think, “The sun only rises to shine upon you, my love.” And he looks back at me with his big, soulful brown eyes, and I know what he’s thinking too: “Feed me.”

Yes, we’re going to talk horses today.

Why? Because surely a gazillion columnists and random bloggers are all over the Republican wealthcare bill (yes, “wealthcare” because the wealthy are protected, and everyone else can suck it), the shock and misery of the Philando Castile murder and verdict, and whatever lunacy the Toddler in Chief is tweeting today. No point in duplicating efforts. Besides, my outrage circuits are fried. So today, we’ll essentially do what I do every morning to flee from my stress: File all that stuff under “I’ll think about it tomorrow” and go to the barn.

If you’ve been following along over the last year, you already know that after a 35-year lapse, I rediscovered my inner Horsey Girl when I was gifted a wonderful old horse, just when I’d shredded my miniscus and was sporting a big, bulky leg brace. Penn and I spent a lot of time walking and talking, because riding was difficult. Well, not the riding part. It was getting on and off that was the big challenge. I couldn’t swing my braced leg over the back of the saddle without dragging my boot heel over Penn’s rump. My brain would command my leg to lift, but it just wouldn’t.

Penn tolerated my boot heel for months, turning his head ever so slightly to look back at me in patient disgust, surely thinking, “You are such a dork.” Or “Feed me.”

Once my heel cleared getting off, landing on that braced leg was also pretty sketchy. I’d mentally prepare myself to hit the ground in searing pain, knowing my knee may collapse and re-shred, but miracle of miracles, it held up. A tall mounting block changed everything. Months later, with no brace and my knee healed, my leg clears the saddle easily. Penn and I are off and riding.

We’ve mastered trotting (it’s a trip when your muscle memory just kicks in, and you’re posting like you did once upon a time) and just last week, I cantered for the first time since 1981. I was exhilarated and thrilled and terrified all at once, because Penn’s canter was nothing like the smooth-strided Thoroughbreds I was accustomed to. He’s a massive Hanoverian with a massive stride to match, like riding a ten-foot tall rocking horse that sways your whole body back and forth with each step.


Yeah, whoa — for reals. Three-quarters of the way around the arena was enough cantering for me. I didn’t want to push my luck. In a couple weeks, I’ll embrace the fact that I actually achieved this step, and try it again. In the meantime, we’ll ride along, slowly and gently. It’s “our” time. When no one else is there, I sing cowboy songs to Penn, using his stride as the tempo. “Don’t Fence Me In” and “Old Paint” and “Happy Trails” and “Sioux City Sue” are some of our favorites. I can tell he loves my singing, because he puts his ears back to listen.

And no, he’s not putting his ears back because he’s annoyed! You shut up!

In fact, I’m sure he’s thinking, “Sing ‘Happy Trails’ again. I love that one!”

Or “Feed me.”

And feed him I do. Plenty. Someone asked me recently if I plan to retire soon, and I chuckled and replied, “I have a horse. I’ll never be able to retire.”

Oh, yeah, they’re expensive. Particularly when your salary falls squarely in the “Do you want fries with that, Ma’am” range. Every spare penny, and even some that aren’t spare, gets dumped into my horse.

Hey, UC Davis: Here’s a genetics project for you — design a horse that can eat cash. It’ll save all those trips to the feed store. I’ll just shovel my money directly into his bin.

And, it’s not just feed. It’s fly spray and halters and shoes and vaccinations, and this supplement and that, and not only am I spending all my pennies on Penn, I’m spending plenty of my husband’s as well. (Thanks, Hon… you’re pretty cool too!) Yes, Penn’s a pricey hobby. But so worth it. He’s therapy on four legs, and doesn’t really cost much more than a therapist anyway. Who couldn’t use a little therapy as we plod through the next three and a half miserable years?

Save us, 2020.

In the meantime: Horses.

How about you? Do you desperately need some distraction? There are thousands of kind old horses out there, desperately in need of someone to love them, hang out with them, and eventually pluck up some courage, put one foot in the stirrup, drag the other boot heel over their rump, and settle into the saddle. Or maybe not ride at all. Just walk and talk, and bond with these old souls, and discover the serenity of feeling completely grounded, calm and in the present moment. Horses provide a daily emotional oasis from all that troubles us. And here’s the thing: These patient, well-trained seniors are frequently available for free.

Free serenity. How awesome is that?

Just don’t think about the pennies.


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