Why ride horses?
By Stacey Sheley
The morning is crisp, a breeze blows across the field bringing the smells of dying fall leaves, wet ground, old wood from the fence, and the scents of the heavens to my nose. I see the sun hitting the droplets of moisture in the early morning air before a tree line of ocher, lemon yellow, burnt and raw siennas. In the field is my mare. The phrase resonates in my soul. My Mare. She knows I am here. She heard my car coming down the road when I was several miles away. That is why she stands grazing away from the other horses, working her way toward the gate. My Mare was sent to me on the winds from the gods. I dreamt about her a year to the day before I first laid my eyes upon her flesh. My Mare is a pale yellow with black mane and tail. The black is so luxurious to my heart and the yellow, the yellow breaks my heart and her chocolate barred legs carry my soul. She has delicate ears dipped in milk chocolate and rimmed in espresso. Her eyes are caramel brown and lined with jet. She is a part of my being and I love her from a depth that brings me pain.
From a time when I don’t remember I wanted a yellow horse with black legs, mane and tail that had a stripe down her back. She came to me as a gift from someone unseen. I earned her, from years of study, years of drawing, years of loving them all. It is true love. A love so deep that is not of this Earth. I am her and she is me. She knows me, she knows when I need her, she knows when I need her strength and she knows when I’m lying to myself. She is strong of heart and won’t tolerate anything less. My Mare. She doesn’t need me, she can take care of herself. She wants to be by me and THAT makes me weep. She could easily hang in the back of the pasture with the other horses, yet here she comes, wandering toward the gate where I stand, leaving the heard to come to me of her own free will.
Who am I to her? Why would she do this? I am feeble, two legged, slow, week, short and skinny, I boss her around, put a saddle on her back, ask her to take the bit, nudge her with my legs and hands. Why would she do this? Why did she look at me one day while riding in the woods and tell me “We are cantering and you are going to get over this thing.” as she sucked on the bit hard and cantered, gently, slowly increasing speed until we were flying again. I understood what she was doing and I let her do it. Why would she do this for me, a small insignificant animal that thinks it’s ok to sit on the back of such a magnificent creature? She knew and I knew she knew.
We play tag in the arena when no one is looking, like Alec and The Black. She laughs at stupid things arrogant people do. I scratch her itchy spots. I know she knows I adore her.
I stand with her in her stall running my hand down her neck, across her back and stand close to her. I rest my face on that thick beautiful yellow neck and in-hail. I could tell her smell in the pitch of a new moon. I know her hoof falls and I know which hoof prints are hers on the paddock. I know how her fur feels and I would know her by touch if I were blind and def. She has the thumb print of Ala on her right side of her neck near her shoulder, a scar on her forehead the shape of The Red Sea, and she likes her belly scratched in the summer. There are three white hairs on her forehead above the scar. I know, My Mare.
I am tired so I sit in her stall, in the front north corner. She comes to me, nose out, sniffing my arm nuzzling me gently. She moves close and stands over me. The young mare in the next stall moves to the far side quickly. I open my eyes, sleep was near but I heard her move. I look up and see the bottom of My Mare’s jaw, long deliciously yellow neck, chest and those chocolate legs. She is guarding me. She told the young mare to back off.
I have slept in the pasture on the hill. I awoke to her hoof falls coming toward me. I open my eyes; there, she is coming to me again. She stands over me, watching out for me in the pasture full of 24 horses. Her friend comes near, but only so close. He grazes quietly. She dozes off, back left leg cocked. There we are, on the hill she and I. She 1100Lb of muscle, bone, hoof, and Heart. Standing there over me a 2 legged, 115Lb, 5’3” speck of nothing. Yet she guards me. She is My Mare and I am Her Mare. I have stood over her, protected her, healed her wounds, kept her safe, believed in her courage. That is why she stands over me, that is why she knows me, that is why she would do those things for me; because I would do those things for her.
This is why I ride. I ride for love.