So here I am with two horses, and both of them are injured. Both of them have leg injuries, and that means I can’t actually do a lot with them. I can’t take them out for a walk in the countryside. I can’t really continue with the in hand work I was doing with Cassie. And I can’t ride. Since Cassie got injured, I have thought a lot about riding and I have asked myself how important it is to me. I am hopeful that Cassie will recover, but it is not a certainty and even if she does come right the vet has warned me that I have to be prepared for the fact that it is going to take a long time. Months. We won’t be riding this side of Christmas, that’s about the only thing that does seem certain.
Minnie’s condition is even more complicated. I am worried about the recent deterioration of her left hind leg and the recurrence of inflammation of the suspensory ligament in her right fore. My priority for Minnie is to get her pain-free and comfortable so she can enjoy life. At the moment it doesn’t seem likely that she will ever be sound enough for riding again and I have to bear that in mind, but I am still not prepared to give up just yet. If Cassie didn’t recover I would be devastated, it would shatter all the dreams and hopes I have for her, but when I think about riding, it is really Minnie I think of.
I have horses, because I love being around them. I love spending time in their gentle presence, and watch them doing normal horse things, like munching hay or rolling on their backs in the sand or gallop around chasing each other when they’re in a playful mood. I love sitting near them in the grass, and listen to their snorts of contentment and the swish of their tails. Riding is not the reason I have horses, but I do love it. There is nothing like going for a long hack with a horse to refresh the soul.
I think most horses enjoy hacking out too. Horses living in the human world are usually not in a position where they can roam at will and cover large distances, and a long hack offers a change of scenery and the chance to move. I know Cassie enjoys going out, but of all the horses in my life, Minnie is the horse who has always been the most enthusiastic about riding. She loved it. If she saw me coming up with her bridle, she would greet me with a deep, throaty chuckle and she came to each ride with shining eyes and with every fibre of her body vibrating with energy. I loved going out with Minnie too. She made me look a much better rider than I am; I only had to think and Minnie responded. Minnie and I both like speed and we had a lot of fun on the gallops. A small shift in weight and we would be off, thundering along with the wind whipping her mane in my face and I could feel her joy in my own body. To experience that kind of synergy is awesome.
Minnie has a quirky personality and she is, in many ways, a very private horse. She doesn’t really like being touched and she is protective of her personal space. She is also highly strung and easily bored. Cassie enjoys grooming and massages, Minnie will only accept it if she’s in the mood. Riding was not an extra for us, it defined our relationship. I think we balanced each other, it was a real partnership. I always felt incredibly comfortable on her back; her nervousness and at times sharp reactions didn’t bother me, she never made me lose my balance and her pirouettes just made me laugh. Those couple of weeks this spring when we went out riding before she got injured again, Minnie blossomed, she was like a different horse. Recently, she has become moody and a bit withdrawn. Minnie is bored and it is obvious to me that she needs the mental stimulation and the freedom our riding out offered her. That is why I can’t accept that her riding days are over and give up on her just yet. Yes, riding is important to me, but it is not just for myself.