Category Archives: Autumn

November Ride

One of my neighbours who lives down the road and around the corner stopped by and asked if I’d like to go riding. It is a beautiful November Sunday and the Packers don’t play until four, so I said yes.

I found my willing mount happily nibbling on some hay and she came over for the apple I had in my hand not knowing that I was bribing her for capture.

It took several minutes to chip away the thick mud stuck to her body that she’s accumulated from her daily roll in the mud. It takes fifteen minutes just to make her look slighly acceptable. She was still horribly dusty, but her winter coat was coming in beautifully making it impossible to get her clean again until Spring. I picked her hooves and then got my saddle.

I hoisted the old, but lovely saddle that I’ve had since childhood onto Autumns back and we both grunted with effort. I pulled the girth around, but it simply wouldn’t fit. She’d gotten very chubby in the past few months. Gearing up for winter is my guess.

Brent gave me a leg up and I sat on the untethered saddle while Brent pulled the girth towards the buckle. After several efforts we managed to get the saddle firmly secured to the horse.

With my ball cap and a pair of sunglass firmly on my head I was ready to ride. Autumn and I ambled down the driveway for the short walk down Bowen road to the comfort and safety of the closest farm side road called Sider Road.

My new riding companion lives about a mile down this road. Autumn and I sauntered contently smelling the scent of sunshine and witnessing the fields were coldly bare, as all the soy beans had been recently harvested.

It’s always a sign of winter when the beans are gone. It’s the last thing to get picked up before the hard frost starts to set. It’s a sign of winter and comes along with early sunsets and is a good representation of a Canadian farm year.

I’m always fascinated by the fields and their progression through the years. The sleepy winter wheat, the first seeds of spring hay and late summer grains and corn. Finally, the beans get picked up and from then on we can expect colder weather and snow.

There is no better way to see the countryside than by horseback. You get the scents and slow visual survey that nature deserves.

I arrive at Susan’s farm at exactly 11 o’clock as planned. I can see her riding in her sand ring and she waves. It’s a very enthusiastic wave and I am warmed by her friendship. Susan is a little nervous about going on the road with her horse. She has a traumatic history of riding on the road and saw her horse killed by a car when she was very young. Decades later she’s still determined to overcome her fears.

We walk placidly down the road chatting effortlessly as we learn we both rode horses at the same local shows and we both know the same horse people. She remembers my horse Sam and we are bonded by the traumatic loss of our best equine friends.

We ride back to her farm and she asks if I will ride her younger mare. Susan has had back surgery two years ago and the mare can be frisky. Susan’s husband comes out and between the three of us we manage to tack up the pretty bay mare and I ride her around the sand ring.

Susan and her husband stand close talking as I ride and it feels like a lesson or preparing for a show. I’m reminded of the wonderful nervous tickle of excitement at the thought of showing horses.

I think the little mare would make a wonderful children’s jumper as she’s short backed and collects well under her body that gives the jumper their bounce. I’ve always loved jumping.

My mare Autumn is enjoying the attention of Susan’s gelding who is lavishing her with soft nickers and love. The two watch us in the sand ring and after they decide the mare is not being harmed they return to a pile of hay. Autumn is delighted.

After the ride on the young mare we decide to try it again next week. I tack up Autumn and prepare for the short ride home. My mare is tired, but nickers as she walks down the road. She’s torn between her new friends and the old ones waiting for her at home. She meets the goats with a gentle whinny and retires back into her field to relax.

I come home to Brent’s friend Phil splitting wood in the back field, my dad fixing his truck in the garage, my sister and her son raiding my fridge while Brent and his friend David take a look at the greasecar kit on the truck.

It’s a typical and wonderful Sunday on the farm.

The next day I’m a little sore in my lower body. My legs are stiff as I get out of bed, but I smile at the thought of riding and the sweet smell of sweat and effort combined with earth and hay. The smell of horse always brings me comfort.

Riding Horses

Riding horses is like nothing else. It lets you get close to nature. It lets you quietly see things that you’re normally going too fast to enjoy. You smell scents that normally don’t make it past your car window. You hear the small animals building their nests in the forest.

It’s a delight to be that close to things that are so common, but hardly ever heard.

For years I was lucky enough to board my horse at a stable that was located along the shorthills. The shorthills are off Effingham Rd in Pelham. The shorthills have their very own magic.

Today I rode with my niece Erin. It was so special to share our love of horses. I really enjoyed the ride around the big hay field as we talked about horses, riding and deer.

It’s always nice to ride with another person and extra special to ride with the next generation. It’s a sign that I’m aging, but it isn’t one that I mind. Thanks Erin, today was really cool. Want to do it again on Boxing Day??

Autumn 2010

She’s here. She’s been here since last Saturday and every morning before I got to work I feed her a carrot or an apple and I bid her a good day. It’s been a very warm November since Autumn came home. The sun has been bright and the air seems crisp.

I had the opportunity to ride for the first time in nearly three years. It was magic. It was amazing. It was serene and peaceful and I can’t believe I waited so long.

The routine of brushing was familiar as was lifting the saddle to place it gently on her back. Adjusting the saddle pad and slowing tightening the girth. It brought a quiet contemplation to my day. I was excited, but I was excited like I was the day Brent and I got married. It was a peaceful, quiet excitement that comes with the knowledge that this is a good fit, a great match and will only enrich your life.

As I hoisted myself up into the saddle and settled in we clicked. I think we both remembered and we both relaxed to enjoy the simple pleasure of each other’s company.

We walked. We ambled around the farm. We checked the fence lines, front yard and fifteen acre hay field out back. The gentle rocking of her pace and my body were matched evenly and I started to look around at the field. I had wonderful memories of riding this same field with Sam and having an amazing connection.

I remember sneaking off to ride at night. I remember galloping through the open field with the wind on my face making my eyes water. I remember smelling the damp earth, rotting leaves and crisp autumn air.

I am so lucky. I am so lucky to relive these happy memories and create new adult memories at the same time.

Everyone always said I could come back to riding later in life after I did so many other things like: finishing my education, getting a job, getting married, having a family, raising my children and triumphing in a fabulous career.

My life didn’t work out that way and I’m incredibly grateful for surprises even if I didn’t like some of them at the time. Time heals even if at the time you don’t think you will ever feel joy again.

Horses

I long to feel the saddle beneath me again. To ride the familiar trails of my childhood. To smell the hay and straw and scent of horses on my farm again. It’s like nothing else in this world.

However, I am a pragmatic woman today. I know the costs – both financially and emotionally. I refuse to make this decision on emotion. It makes no sense. The horse will provide no monetary value, but I feel I owe it to Autumn.

Divorce is ugly. It’s painful and even when done reasonably amicably you lose so many precious things. One of the things I lost was Autumn. I could tell you it was cost, but maybe I wanted to punish myself for failing in my relationship. I could say I couldn’t cope with the workload, but perhaps my emotions were to too frail. Maybe I wasn’t strong enough at the time to hold on, make room and find a place.

It left me feeling guilty, but I’d found her a good home with a friend of a friend and for three years they cared for her, loved her and kept her safe. Thank you.

At the beginning of the summer I got a call from Autumn’s family stating they’d like to give her back. She wasn’t very sound anymore and she didn’t suit their needs. She was getting old and the family was filled with young kids. This was right before the engagement party and three months before the wedding.

I told Brent and the wheels started spinning. I could smell the smoke. I was afraid, but didn’t I owe it to Autumn?

I asked the family to wait until fall, until autumn to see if we could make something happen. It gave me time to think and time to talk to Brent, family and friends. Should we get a horse?

It was not an easy decision, but we decided yes and started planning as soon as we returned from our honeymoon we started building. We put up fence and repaired the shelter. We built well into the dark hours and had a few fights because we were tired. For something that was going to bring joy the building was stressful. I think I was nervous. I was afraid I wasn’t strong enough to be soft and I knew having Autumn home would leave me open and vulnerable.

It was Thursday, November 4, 2010 when the family came by and asked if she could bring Autumn back on Saturday. Brent and I were in the middle of insulating the shelter. At least the fencing was done.

It was nearly 4pm on Saturday, November 6, 2010 that Autumn stepped off the trailer and landed her hooves on Beaver Creek Farm. I held my breath and couldn’t wait to cuddle and feed her carrots. My baby had come home.

It was like the return of a long lost lover. It was the sun shining brighter bringing life to the dull leafless trees. It was like going from black and white to high definition. A switch flipped and I felt whole.

Welcome home Big Girl.