I have always struggled with Connection.
No, not that kind of connection (well actually, yes that too).
But the kind of connection I am talking about is a kind of deeper emotional connection.
I have owned horses before. I have been responsible for their physical and mental well being. I have leased the same horse for extended periods of time.
But I can honestly say I have never felt deeply, emotionally connected to them. Sure, I liked them a lot. I worried about them and provided for them. But there seemed to be this whole other level that I never got to.
I never understood other people who let their riding be limited by or who changed their goals based on what their horse was capable of or wanted to do. Or people who ran into financial hardship, but refused to sell their horse. When that happened, yeah it was sad, but you did what you had to do and moved on. Right?
I think my level of detachment had roots in my formative riding years. I was a once-a-week, 1/2 hour, up-down lesson kid. The rotation of ponies changed, and I pretty much loved them all. Some I loved more than others, but I was pretty much happy to ride whatever came along.
Then came Speedy. Speedy was a new lesson pony that came into the program. He was called Speedy Gonzales, but he was actually quite slow. For whatever reason, I clicked with Speedy and rode him well. Even my instructor noticed. She mentioned to me the option to lease Speedy. I was over the moon with the idea. Until I got in the car to go home. When I mentioned the idea to my mom, it was immediately vetoed for financial reasons. We fought bitterly. I cried quite a bit. It was so unfair. Speedy and I were going places.
Until we were not.
Until we were not.
Speedy moved on to another leasee and was taken out of the lesson program.
This scenario was to play out over and over. I went to a summer camp for horseback riding. At the end of every summer, the horses were free leased out to campers for the winter. I can't tell you how many phone calls home there were, begging and pleading my parents to let me bring home Domino, my favorite camp horse.
Somewhere along the line, I decided to adopt the policy of "love the one you're with."
There was an old song by Crosby, Stills and Nash. The lyrics went "If you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with."
I decided that made sense. From then on, I enjoyed riding, but to protect myself, I think I limited my deeper connection to any particular horse. I rode horses that were not mine. They could be bought, sold, leased or moved at any time.
The reason I drag up all the ghosts of the past now, is that for the first time, feel like things have changed. Boca may not be the fanciest horse in the barn, or the most gifted or the best bred, but something happens when I see his kind, goofy face.
If Boca turns out to not want to jump or play hunters, I'm not sure I could let him go.
If my husband loses his job or I fall ill, I'm not sure his ticket to go is signed.
When I see his big white face, my spirits lift, and I am happy in a way that I haven't been in a long, long time.