Sunday, May 27, 2012

Passions – Stables, Arenas and Dressage . . . .

“So, mmmmmmm . . . . . , ahhhhhhhh . . . . – would ya like to go ridin’??”

I’m looking into the eyes of the most beautiful girl in the world. It’s our first summer together – 1966, we will be juniors in high school in the fall. My first true love – and honestly, I was so busy just enjoying her presence, I didn’t really hear what she said. “What was that?”

“Would ya like to go riding?”

“Horses?” (a quick one I was!!)

“Well sure – what else would we ride?” Said in all sweetness rather that viewing me as a dumbass.
“Sure, when do you want to go?”

“Pick me up first thing in the morning; we’ll go to the stables.” Really, me on a horse? And where the heck were there any stables?? “Will do, no problem, I’m looking forward to it!” Really, what the heck did I just say, I’m looking forward to climbing on some beast of death to go riding???? Bill (already starting to talk to myself, not a good sign), what the hell are you doin’???

That evening my mom asks me what I was doing the next day. “I’m going riding tomorrow morning.” A smirkey smile and an eye-roll follows . . . “Going with Susie??” “Yep!” I say, sounding full of confidence! “Ah, well have a good time honey!” – followed by another smirk and eye-roll.

I pick up Susie the next morning and we are off – out into the country around our small town. Finally we arrive at a long driveway surrounded by a wooded area and fallow fields. At the end there is a long, low building that was the stable. Susie chatted with the owner, we rented two horses – she tacked them up and we were off. I’d be more detailed here, but the adrenalin was beginning to surge and my situational awareness was diminishing quickly. Next thing I know I’m on top of a monstrous steed (well, not really – adrenalin and all was working overtime) and we are walking towards the fields. With time, it actually wasn’t too bad, I was getting comfortable and beginning to get used to this walking stuff.

“Let’s canter a bit” says the love of my life. “What the heck is a canter?” I holler towards her disappearing form. Ah, “running”, why didn’t she just say so??

“Run horse” – I say in a deeply adult voice! “Run!” Nothing . . .

“Giddy Up Horse!!” – again in a commanding voice. Nothing . . .

Suddenly I notice the horse is getting a bit agitated, turning in a circle, stomping his feet, snorting . . . 

As I look down my left leg I notice a swarm of large bees (about as wide as my thumb), suspended in the air with their butts and a stinger extended, trying to make contact with my mount. I’m thinking about my next step, how to eliminate these bothersome critters when they suddenly make contact.

Giddy-the-hell-up!!!!! He does an instant 180, ears back, neck extended – and I feel his rear legs dig into the sandy soil of the field . . . . we are off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was obvious that our destination was his “safe house” – his stall in the stable, and we were about to achieve warp speed in the process of getting there! Unsurprisingly – I have no real memory of the trip. Bee sting – leap forward – screeching halt inside the stall. Beginning to end, my perceived time was something under 1 second. Reality was a bit different I suppose, but holy crap was he in a hurry.

10 to 15 minutes later Susie comes trotting into the stable. “Where’d ya go?? Didn’t you like the ride?” She’s obviously worried that I had a lousy time, looking just a bit misty-eyed. I assured her all was good and related the tale of the bees, warping horse and waking up in the stall. She giggled a bit, smiled and said “Next time will be better – I promise!”

Next time?!?!?!?!?

That was 45 years ago this summer. Vietnam, three college degrees between us, multiple house moves, two children, two rounds of cancer (one for her and one for me), the life and death of our very own Thumper – her riding companion of 32 years, retirement from the military, starting a business, three lovely grandkids – and the thousands of life events that happens to a couple who spend 45 years together (40 of them married to each other) as well as thousands of hours both on horseback and just sitting, observing her indulge in her passion. Throughout it all, there has been a constant passion for Susie – dressage.

Which brings us to this weekend. We are staying with her brother and sister-in-law for a week. Since my “office” is essentially on my notebook, work simply came along for the ride. For Susie, she came to see Jane and her school-master dressage horses. Jane is an international dressage judge and trainer. Susie comes here about 3 times a year for a week to continue her passion of learning dressage. Truth-be-told, she’s pretty darn good, but school-masters are hard to find and Jane has a couple that Susie simply loves. Which leads to this morning.

“Wanna go riddin’?” she says with a smile. Jane got an emergency call to fill in for a judge in Kentucky for the day – pre Olympic trials and she needed to replace a sick judge.

“Nah, not really – but I’d love to come along and keep you company.”

And so we went. I love this woman with my entire soul – and enjoy nothing more than watching her enjoy her passion! It’s about stables, arenas and Dressage!!


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