Marco goes to therapy twice a week. It’s water therapy to help rehab him following his second knee surgery and to, ever so hopefully, help us avoid a third surgery. The machine Marco works in is built for horses. It looks like this.
Marco is not all in on this. He accepts the harness and the truck ride to get there. He thinks Brenda is awesome and walks in like he owns the place. But, he always seems a little put off that we want him to get into that thing again. It is work for him to use his weaker leg and it takes all sorts of cajoling to make his 20 minutes of time go by.
In the beginning, therapy took more out of him than it gave back. Soon, however, we began to see evidence of his physical improvement, and lately, of his mental improvement. He “forgets” to baby that leg. He runs and romps with Monroe, who is still just a puppy. He chases squirrels at full gallop. And all of this makes us very happy.
Now, Brenda is a horse person and I have used more than my fair share of Marco’s time with her to ply her with questions about horse care here in Florida. After all of that one way questioning, today Brenda asked me one ….what did I actually do with my horses, you know, besides take care of them? Because, as she suggested, I had a lot of them and it seems like a lot of work to do without some benefit in return.
It IS a lot of work. They are … the horses, Boo and Belle, the donkeys. Marco is a lot of work and the rest of dogs, too. And costly. You see the irony of pondering this question over the splish splash of Marco’s customized water therapy session, don’t you? I stuttered out some answer about how I used to do BIG things with them. I name dropped Wellington and competing and how I had carved a dressage arena out of the hilly, hardened earth of our place in California so I could ride.
And I knew I was on the wrong track with the entire answer.
So I am making this confession here. That arena in California, for instance? Well, I did ride in it.
See? That’s me in the middle, on a horse. It’s just that everyone else wanted to come along with and how do you say no to that? Also, that arena didn’t belong just to me. The horses had their own uses for it.
And that whole “I ride competitively” thing? Well, yes, there were some ribbons. But I think everyone ends in the ribbons eventually. I was not stellar, just determined, and it is my belief now that my poor horses suffered mightily from all of that determination; a story for another day.
Anyway, I have found deeper meaning in moments when no one was watching…or judging. Like this one where a simple ride on one horse (which felt so good) was matched by another, because he felt the goodness of it, too.
I hope to still have the privilege of getting on the backs of my horses and be open to the experience that will follow, but any given day I wonder how much that is truly necessary. Ever since we started to live together, I mean truly living and being together, I have come to know such kinship and communication with these guys, that I almost forget it was ever just about the riding. It IS a lot of work to have animals in your life, especially horses. It takes a level of commitment to get up and do for them every day, no matter what. But, the way I see it, I DO benefit from that … just that. Next time, my answer will be better.