In the Night Farm…Your Ride is Here.

Flashback Friday: Timing Isn’t Everyting

Today’s flashback is to a post I think of every October, when the endurance season yawns and reaches for covers of snow to tuck beneath its chin.  The pace of my rides slows.  Speed and strength yield to the soaking up of daylight, of warmth, that all too soon will slip away.  Read.  Ride.  Enjoy.

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TIMING ISN’T EVERYTHING  Originally published October 28, 2008

On a hill overlooking Oregon’s Willamette Valley, there is a house with a large yard. Beyond the yard is an overgrown walnut orchard. At the edge of the walnut orchard is a yellow barn. And in the yellow barn sleep the memories of my first endurance horses. They whisper among the cobwebs, curl like cats upon the beams, press their hoof prints in long vacant stalls.

They were Arabians, of course. A black-bay mare, elderly and kind, with a stripe and snip and one white hind. Another bay mare, agitated, ever pacing.  And a rose-grey gelding, the first I raised and trained from youth, the horse of my heart. Who can tell how many miles we traveled, those Arabians and I, bareback and fleet among the wheat fields and vineyards and woods that made our home?

In those teenage years, I knew nothing of the sport of endurance. I rode for sheer pleasure, alone for hours at a time with the wind cool on my temples and a horse hot between my knees, my fingers tangled tight in reins and manes. I wore sweat pants and t-shirts, paddock boots, never a watch. The shadows kept time as the trails wound on. My only rule, ‘Be home at dusk.’

These days, I surround myself with layers of data. Rides progress from planning chart to stopwatch and stethoscope to spreadsheet. The resulting lists and graphs intrigue me, and I find no sin in this.

But lately, these October days beguile. Shall I ride hills when the trees are aflame with autumn in the valleys? Must we canter when the last rays of an Indian summer could, if only we walked, cloak us in remembered warmth?

And so I slow my horse’s pounding feet. I close my eyes, sway upon his back, absorb his breaths as though they were my own. Speed and mileage mean nothing today. These, after all, are the rides logged not on paper, but on our very souls.

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9 responses

  1. I already love flashback Fridays.
    Beautifully written Tamara. I could smell the dust and cobwebs in that old barn and felt a quite peace settle over my day.
    Thanks!

    October 15, 2010 at 8:03 am

    • 🙂 Thanks, Jackie. I’m glad it made a difference to your day.

      October 15, 2010 at 8:08 am

  2. I really liked this post. Sometimes its nice to “just ride.” Heading out this afternoon to do just that (but will take my gps & camera…) 🙂

    October 15, 2010 at 9:13 am

    • Have fun! It’s raining here, so I might have to ride vicariously through your photos.

      October 15, 2010 at 9:34 am

  3. Tom

    Wow, that’s a really beautiful blog entry. This is the only way I ride, actually. I compete sometimes (team sorting), but I don’t really care whether we win or lose (although we are very good).

    Those were my motocross and hare scrambles (a form of dirt bike racing) days. When chasing championships, training, modifying the motorcycle for performance meant everything.

    But not with horses. We work to improve, but just so that riding is more pleasurable for both of us and to deepen our relationship.

    Thanks for sharing!

    October 15, 2010 at 9:26 am

    • Thanks, Tom. As much as I enjoy competiting with the horses, I think you’re onto something. Horses are masters at simply “being.” We’d do well to learn from them.

      October 15, 2010 at 9:35 am

  4. You often write of the things that my heart feels. That quiet expression of a woman’s heart, and a horse’s soul. The non-horse person never really gets the emotional stirring I feel to see my horse galloping from the back of the field because she saw me and wants to be “with” me. It happened today and it was magic.

    ~E.G.

    October 15, 2010 at 10:32 am

  5. Dom

    This is the best way to ride. I spend hours, especially in the fall, winding my way through unexplored paths, thinking nothing of time or speed. I take in the crops, the fresh air, the fall colors, the migrating birds. My rule is to be off the streets by dark. It’s only after we get home that I look at the time, get out the satellite images, and clock out the distances.

    October 15, 2010 at 1:22 pm

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