I cannot believe that we haven’t posted here since 2015. Most of my blogging has been happening on social media, but I’m going to start archiving these posts here so we have it all in one place. I’m at work on a non-fiction story that chronicles my journey and healing with horses. The posts you’ll find here are a testament to the barn that has built me.
The snow hammered us last weekend and while it’s raining here now, there are still patches of snow on the ground. I’ve complained a lot about slogging through it, but yesterday we took a moment to give thanks for the weather in all its iterations —
“2018, the year of embracing the mud,” Sarah said. “We’ve got to get used to riding in the rain, teaching in the rain, because that’s all there is going to be eventually.”
Today was a day for a lot of discussion in the middle of the ring. Our feet weren’t cold against the footing and, despite the puddles, the horses could use most of the jumping ring. We still have an edging of snow against the tree side. The dressage ring is like a red clay slushy.
If it’s not freezing or torrential, we encourage riders to get out in it. One of the clearest memories I have, barn life as a child, was riding my mare into the middle of a field as the snow came down so hard it was blinding. The world disappeared around us and we felt like the last creatures left on earth, the mare still beneath me as we picked a spot near where the first terrace started and stood in the weather. Snow caught in the fine loft of her winter coat, stilletos of ice packed into her shoes. Surrounded by adults who gave me no choice with their whims, this little Kim, with her horse in a blizzard, felt totally in control, easier at the mercy of her horse and the storm that closed Greenville down for a week.
Later on, I quit my real jobs because the natural world offered some buffer to my anxieties. The first summer cleaning stalls in the drought-drenched heat kept me sane, like a sweat lodge pulling the fear right out of me. I couldn’t have a panic attack if I was leading a horse through sun browned grass. Afternoon woods offered respite from the heat, and held me close in a comfort of healing. That summer taught me, kindly, that nature was bigger than my emotions, and when a storm came, finally, that feelings, like the weather, were transitory. It all came and went. In absolution, I bought Max as the fall turned the mountains around us fiery with hope, red and gold as his coat. Max built the barn we have now. Thank you, Max.
As a species, we have forgotten how to let the weather have its way with us. We’re bracing against it, fighting against it, denying it, hiding from it. Sometimes we just need to walk into it, four hooves forward, and relax against the onslaught.
So when parents call and ask to reschedule a lesson because it’s drizzling or muddy or hot, we explain that lessons are adapted to the climate. Sometimes all a kid needs to do is walk in the mud, splash their horse through a puddle, learn to dismount in that careful way that keeps frozen toes from feeling like they’re shattering like glass. There is enough science out there that proves to us now that the weather won’t make us sick, but climate controlled classrooms? Sure fire way to catch the flu.
The worst of the weather makes us appreciate those holy moments, like this afternoon, as we stood in the middle of the ring, the riders trotting around us, mud caking our boots. The snow was melting, the temperature was tolerable and the thousand icy, rainy, dry, pitted roads we’d taken led to one destination, the barn. It’s a community that brings us closer to the saints that guard us, simply by the virtue of its closeness to nature.
Sarah started the day by posting a quote by Hildegard of Bingen:
“Glance at the sun. See the moon and the stars.
Gaze at the beauty of earth’s greenings.
What delight God gives to humankind
with all these things. . .
All nature is at the disposal of humankind.
We are to work with it.
For without we cannot survive.”