Not riding is hard for me. Something about the sight of my horses' backs makes me just want to get on and go.
When I was a child, my horse-buddy, Regis, and I swore that if we had a horse we would ride every day. We couldn't understand how the owners of all the horses in "horse alley" could let them stand idle day after day. How could they NOT ride that beautiful steed waiting for them in their yard? Why would they even HAVE a horse if they weren't going to ride it?
Well . . . it didn't take long for me, as an adult, to understand it.
In a way, the "not riding" makes the "riding" more special. The riding is the escape from all those things that make "not riding" the norm for most adults, most of the time. Teenagers can ride every day, and when I had Chang when I was 16 -- I rode every day. Or nearly every day. Certainly the riding days far outnumbered the "not riding" days.
But as an adult . . . especially now as a single adult . . . it's the other way around, especially in winter. There are just so many other demands on my time. Work, of course, is a big one. When there is client work to do, meetings to go to, payroll taxes to file or pay, even when it's time for me to get my own billings out so I can get PAID for the work I did -- it gets in the way of riding.
Laundry, and cleaning litter boxes, and bringing in firewood get in the way. And, as always, there are corrals to clean and water bins to fill or clean, and frequently fence repairs -- due to the unridden horses becoming bored and mischievous. It's a vicious circle.
Cold weather gets in the way, especially if raining or snowing. I'll ride in the snow, but not in a snowstorm. Wind will keep me off a horse (or get me off, one way or another, if I was silly enough to try to ride anyway).
Gloom of night will keep me off a horse, and since this is the time of the year when there is more night than day, that is a factor.
But the thing that keeps me off a horse most of the time is just -- exhaustion. I just don't have the energy I had 40 years ago. So often, even if I have the time, I don't have the energy, because of all those "things" I had to do. And if the horse is muddy that adds to it, because it will take energy just to get a horse clean enough to saddle.
However, there is a remedy for all of those "reasons for not riding" -- and that's a phone call or text from my riding buddy across the street -- my 29 year old neighbor -- saying "wanna ride"?
Because while I can make excuses to myself about, "I'm too tired, the horse is too dirty, I have to do laundry, I have to do this, I have to do that," I can't make those excuses to HER. Because they are not reasons not to ride.
If you truly love horses, and are lucky enough to have them, the riding should come FIRST. The laundry and litter boxes and firewood and billings will all still be there after the ride.
I know a young man who is in a wheelchair, and I was driving to the valley with him one day (he was driving me to pick up a car) and I moaned about "not having time to ride much" and this young man who will never ride a horse, but who drives and rides a quad out into the forest by himself, and who doesn't know if he will live to see 30 or not said to me, "You have to make the time for the things that matter to you most, because you never know when your time will be up."
I think of Matt often when I'm out in the yard, looking at my horses' backs, yearning to ride but having "all those things to do" -- and I halter Dash, lead her to the corral fence and climb on. I might only ride for five minutes, but I take the time for the thing that matters to me most, because I don't know when my time will be up.
Ride. Because you must. Because you should. Because you will never regret riding, but you will regret it if the last thing you did in your life before God called you home was -- laundry.
Thanks, Matt, for sharing the wisdom of one who truly knows the precious value of time with one who had grown to take it for granted.
And that's the latest from the Ranch.