Saturday morning dawned cool and windy as I headed out to the therapeutic riding center to help with a class. I was scheduled to be a sidewalker with Ceeray again and was also looking forward to seeing the young man who would be riding him to gauge his progress. There was a chill in the air to remind me that Summer was quickly making her exit and I swore that I could detect a hint of Fall’s petticoat in the distant treeline.We held class inside today due to the weather and it was great fun because we were preparing the kids to participate in next week’s horse show! I won’t be able to attend because my husband and I are scheduled to go out of town, but I was looking forward to helping them prepare. I have a long history of riding the show circuit as a young woman (not my fondest memories of being on horseback), but this event promised to be much less stressful that the cutthroat, big money affairs I remember all too well.
For the show, the kids are expected to complete a pattern in the arena that they will repeat from memory. While leaders and sidewalkers would be on hand as usual, we are all under strict orders to let the kids do as much as possible on their own. The goal is to empower our young riders while showing friends and family how much they have learned.
I quickly realized that my rider and Ceeray were old friends who had performed together in many shows at the center over the past several years. This close bond was evident in the ease with which they memorized and worked the pattern, weaving through the upright poles, gliding around the barrels and floating over the ground poles with ease. Class passed too quickly as always, but by the end I thought my rider will have a great shot at impressing the judges and the audience in next week’s show.
After class, I asked Darla if she could use any help with barn chores, but everything was caught up (for once). So, instead of mucking out stalls I got to groom Lilly – one of the older therapy horses at the center. For me, grooming horses doesn’t resemble anything even remotely like work. As I scrubbed and smoothed Lilly’s burgeoning winter coat, I felt the cares of life slip away in the familiar task of attending to the many contours of her big, warm body and I smiled to myself as she groaned in satisfaction and surrendered to my efforts. I knew my muscles would pay for it later, but Lilly’s unabashed appreciation encouraged me to scratch her favorite spots with enough pressure to make her nose stretch to the sky in approval. I think I definitely made a new friend today!