During the depths of one of the worst winters on record in Atlantic Canada, Rose was shack wacky and cramming for exams in snowy Prince Edward island and dreaming of summer. She mused about getting back to Nova Scotia and to friends and her coach at Coveside Stables, to get ready for summer competitions. Her anticipation that she and Reno would “do their thing” on the circuit made me happy, and I was looking forward to cheering them on from the bleachers. My life as a horse show mum will not last forever, even though I would be content if it did.
Anyone who knows horses knows that they will take it upon themselves to change our plans. We will never know how, but Reno had a pasture mishap just before the end of Spring term and broke his jaw. Clean break of the mandible, resulting in weeks of hay smoothies and stall rest, and the realization that summer would likely not involve competition. Once Reno started eating well again, though, Dr. Rob said there was no reason not to ride him, as long as it didn’t involve a bit or a noseband. Most of us would have sighed and waited for the go ahead to use a bridle.
Although Rose was looking forward to competing, riding Reno is about so much more than that. For most horse people, it is about so much more. When your equipment breaks in other sports, you just get new equipment. When you ride and your horse is injured, you can’t just move on; you have a partner to nurse. And for Rose, a best friend who has come to rely on her for his happiness and well-being, and she on him. So, out came the sheep-skin covered halter, and time for reflections on the “lost” summer.
“At its finest, rider and horse are joined not by tack, but by trust. Each is totally reliant upon the other. Each is the selfless guardian of the other’s very well-being.”
~ Author Unknown
We’re fortunate to have access to miles and miles of trails and fields, where we can walk through the prettiest fern-bedded woods and canter across sweet-smelling grassy fields. During show season, the weekends roll over quickly, and in between jobs, schooling, lessons, and preparations for competitions, it would be easy to postpone taking long and meandering hacks over our beautiful hill.
Accompanying Rose and Reno on one of their rehabilitative evening rides inspired me to think about what is missed when we allow the postponements. It also made me think about how the determination of a girl to ride her horse, no matter the setback, is not about a girl determined to win; it is about a girl who loves and trusts her horse to the limit. This is not a lost summer. It’s a summer of love.