Notes on Riding Tessie this Summer

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Photo by Gayla Creason

Carol said I should ride Tessie as much as possible because she needs to build up her muscles to do what I ask her. And she is fat. As with my writing, I have found a little bit of work, consistently can carry us forward. Carol says we can get a lot done in a half hour.

But I am bone dog tired, with more muscles than just the riding ones aching. My legs ache a dull ache like a nasty headache. They don’t want to walk first thing in the morning. As a young person I was young and foolish and kissed a man under a tree in moonlight in March and ticks crawled over us so badly we took separate showers to wash them off. (I wasn’t ready to shower with a man. He was kind.) A few days later this ache set up in my muscles. And has returned every so often with an exhaustion that feels like grief. I do not have Lyme. But I do grieve. I never would have thought ticks would be as dangerous as they are.

I knew if I didn’t ride despite feeling like crap, I might lose the thread and leave Tessie in the paddock — the fear, inertia setting up and pushing me away like it did last summer. So I loaded her into the trailer, climbed aboard and began walking, then trotting. Carol has suggested I collect her for a few strides and I have felt Tessie’s power and it isn’t so frightening because she is in my hands. And then I let her stretch her head and neck out. I can tighten my calf muscles and she will move away from them. I can exhale and she will drop back a gait, coming down slow. Carol has told me to take up the posture of a trail rider, with one hand on my thigh, one on the reins in order to feel myself settle into the saddle, actively relaxed like I own my place riding her. And for so long I haven’t owned my place because I have been awash in fear.

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I’ve felt Mark Russell’s presence as I’ve moved into finding the quiet joy of riding Tessie, something he brought back to us by wiggling our energy field when we took a clinic from him.  He was a grounded man, grounded in spiritual practice, grounded in horses.  When I wrote about being afraid last fall and people got on my case, Hela, his widow, offered to ask Mark to help, but I declined because I figure why ask a  mortal when I can ask Tessie’s creator, my creator, for help. But without asking, I felt like Mark himself had come by as I settled into looking forward to riding Tessie, and afterward feeling like I’d taken a cool swim in a slow moving river.

Only this time it’s Carol walking beside us, teaching us how to connect through hands and seat and leg and voice. I was less tired than when I loaded Tessie to head for home. I felt better, almost as if Tessie had given me her power, a power I was afraid of, her gift to me that I couldn’t accept before this.

When Tessie offers me her forward trot or canter I am not afraid. I look forward to our time together, how light she can be, how she dissolves my exhaustion. Mark Russell said he’d teach me how to dance with her. I remember asking him how he knew that was a dream. Well, he started us down that road and we found our way to Carol who is teaching Tessie and I how to dance, how to be so close she hears my breath and my thought.

Holy writ says we are supposed to bear one another’s burdens and somehow I feel like Tessie is taking mine, replacing the fog with a mind that has finally cleared. I want to sit down and write. Poems are beginning to trickle in.

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Photo by Gayla Creason

 

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