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Fools for Love
Haberdashery for horses
April is a funny month. It starts off with someone tricking you, then calling you a fool. Oddly, I can relate to that. Raised in a family of witty and sarcastic people, there is some amount of ridicule and a great deal of silliness that I learned to equate with love. After all, when has love ever appeared completely sensible?
In our barn family there are only two mares. One of them is Trudy and the other is a stunning Tennessee Walking Horse and Friesian cross called Dia (short for Black Diamond). Could be because they are “girls” or just because Dia’s owner and I like pretty things, but both horses have an extensive wardrobe of different colored and fancy saddle pads with matching boots. And Dia’s collection of sparkly browbands is truly impressive. I mean with a name like Black Diamond, the more bling, the better.
There used to be another horse owner in the barn who was considerably more basic in her approach to horse attire and would shake her head at the bedazzled display of awesomeness. To some, a matchy matchy horse outfit may seem foolish, but to others its just an expression of the deep love and connection we have with our horses and the joy they bring to our lives.
Mind you, Ty is building a nice collection also, so it’s not really just a mare thing. More like a me thing. You know, when you arrive at the barn and the groom asks you what color you want to dress your horse in today, it might mean you have a problem.
But I dismiss that notion. There can never be too many horse outfits!
Recently one of the trainer’s assistants showed up in a sweet hat she had knit for herself. We all admired it. She offered, for the cost of yarn, to knit hats in the color of our choice for each of us. Not only that, but she offered to knit matching hats for our horses if we wanted her to. Want her to? I mean, have you met us? How much yarn do you need because we’re all in!
And yes, knitting hats for horses sounds silly. But being silly is often the sanest thing you can be. It’s what brings joy and light into what can otherwise at times feel like a dark world.
When I told my trainer I was ready to get back on my horse, I think she was expecting the next words out of my mouth to be “April Fools!” She was surprised that I wanted to ride again so soon. I was surprised to learn that seeing me injured was nearly as traumatic for her as actually getting injured was for me. But I know that getting back on my horse is the most brilliant and healing thing I could ever do for myself.
We don’t get to choose when bad things happen, our choice is how we respond. When we fall do we go under, or do we get up and ride again?
Ultimately, she agreed we could do it, though she insisted on parameters and safeguards and that we recover, slowly, one step at time. Because there’s a difference between being silly and raring to go and being a complete moron. Being silly is understanding the seriousness of life and giving yourself permission to lighten up. Being moronic is, well, we all know it when we see it.
My trainer was, as always (don’t tell her I said this), exactly right. One moment I was full of bravado and wanting to push through any fear and just ride, and the next moment I stood on the giant mounting block we have at the arena, fondly known as the Mountain block, looking over the back of my horse and -- completely froze. In my head I was now convinced that this was stupid, that I was being stupid, and what the hell was I doing, I had no business getting back on a horse yet.
Thankfully, with the help of my barn family and their encouragement, I took a lot of deep breaths, made my way through it, and got on. And knowing my trainer was there with me and we were taking safety precautions brought me real comfort.
Afterwards, we drank champagne to celebrate. Because a little fun and libation is always a great way to commemorate an accomplishment, a milestone, or, you know, Saturday.
And yes, this has turned into a little love letter to my barn family. Not only were they there when things were crazy and scary, they are fully there for the recovery process as well. They are the kindest crew of people I’ve ever known. If all I did was touch my foot to stirrup and nothing else, they’d be there to tell me it’s a step in the right direction and hand me a glass of bubbly. The fact that I got on and moved around the arena earned me at least two more glasses.
The same people who buy bling for their horses and knit hats for their horses, understood the seriousness of what this meant to me. They understood that in the darkest of times, you just have to pause and look for the light.
And I mean if you can’t see the joy of a horse in a hat, who are you anyway?
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