So what have I learned this year? That when you have a bad knee, it's not a good idea to get off your unfamiliar horse to walk him down a hill (when his buddies have gone on ahead) and then remount to ride the rest of the way. When your horse is frantic to get to his equine friends and back in the herd, spinning and rearing on a downward sloping path, you end up dismounting (rather than being forcefully and soundly ejected from your saddle) and walking the rest of the way anyway, under the staring eyes of many concerned cowboys. All street cred is lost in a limping, wild haired decent in slippery soled cowboy boots, with one kind hearted and tolerant cowboy by your side. I'm sure there was more than a little pity for my husband-to-be at his choice of city girl... Just as I'm sure he just smiled sheepishly, rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders before walking out to meet me.
I've learned to pay attention to the non-ADA compliant stairs to our bedroom when descending with a full laundry basket lest one slip down a few steps, landing on one's tailbone. Where one sits for a few minutes to catch one's breath and blink away the tears before continuing to the more public areas of the house. Orthopedically speaking, Montana has not been good to me. Knees and tailbones tend to take a very long time to heal. Clumsy, I am. Clumsy, limpy and bent.
I've learned that chipmunks aren't smart and tend to have a Jim Jones Kool-aid drinking mentality when it comes to mass suicide in a horse trough. They're actually more like lemmings. Or little failed lifeguards. And they turn odd colors and lose their hair in water and the image remains in your brain long after they've been buried (in case Bayley, who has tried to drag a large SPINE of unknown origin home from a trail ride, finds them) and the trough emptied and cleaned and turned upside down - not to be used by traumatized horses. Ugh. And sorry for the visual.
|Bayley, the Wonder Dog, beloved by all. Except little dogs.|
|Ponygirl, jonesing for beer from Emma|
I've learned that the loss of one great horse can be devastating and heartbreaking. Truman was a beauty, inside and outside. His mother was one of Bill's mares and he was born on the ranch, raised and trained by the beloved. A big, brown, strikingly beautiful, kind and gentle soul. His loss was a sad and terrible thing, but he's pain free at last. I've also learned that a little throwaway pony can worm her way into your heart, even though she doesn't earn her keep, breaks into the barn to steal cookies, will take down a guest's tailgate and a beautiful singer for beer (photographic evidence to the left) and squeezes herself through the fence to get to the lawn grass. Ponygirl is too stinkin' cute for words and has become a naughty, but beloved member (by me, anyway) of our equine family.
I've learned that you can get through anything that life throws at you as long as you reach down deep to find your strength. And that the strength you find is only in yourself and cannot be found anywhere else. But that you can give that strength to another when they need it most. It would be nice, though, if everything bad didn't happen at one time!
I've learned that moving back to Oklahoma for the winter to work in my chosen profession and to get the Horseman out of the snow, may not work well for either. It snows in Oklahoma (some) and my chosen profession has moved on without me. Three months spent in Tulsa has been wonderful in that it's allowed time with my family and friends, which has been priceless and rejuvenating for me. Not so wonderful in that time in Tulsa is time away from the ranch and that hasn't been so great. The Horseman gets his strength from the land at mile marker 192 (it is his Tara) and I find that I do, too. I miss it. The mountains and vast plains, the snow, the people, the space. No sirens, no traffic, no threats. The peace of the place can't be measured, but it is palpable.
There are innumerable lessons that I've learned this year. Mostly good, some bad, but all necessary.