Saturday, January 23, 2016

Riding with Elizabeth by Candace Wade

Elizabeth and Candace

 “Elizabeth spoke not a word on the way home.  She seemed to be in a horse-trance.”

Riding With Elizabeth
by Candace Wade, Author and Equestrian

Elizabeth used to corral me when she'd see me driving out to go to the stables to ride. Posing in her pink cowboy hat, be-rhinestone pink cowboy boots and size minus zero jeans, this charming seven-year-old would burble on about the couple of pony rides she had taken with her American Girl group. This sartorial ensemble was actually her tree climbing outfit, but that's another story. Elizabeth was all about sharing anything equine with me.
My fantasy was to take this child riding with me. After clearing my scheme with Jan at the Equine Training Center and with Elizabeth's mother I just had to wait until my three month anniversary of healing after having my second hip replaced.
Not only was I making prison-style hash marks on my calendar as to when I could ride again, but I found out that May 28th would be a perfect storm for my fantasy to take Elizabeth on her first ride on a real horse. Elizabeth would turn eight on the 27th. This would be two weeks before she and her family would move away from Tennessee to Virginia.  She would be gone -- forever.
Deadline looming, I cleared the date with Elizabeth's mom. I booked a time with Jan. I did my exercises to make sure my muscles were still sound after my surgery. I searched for and bought two pairs of "lucky" pink and purple socks for Elizabeth that were varied versions of the ones I wear -- pink and purple being her signature colors.
The child was hopping-up-and-down ecstatic when I picked her and her mother up in my Mini Cooper convertible.  After she decided we really should put the top down, Elizabeth chirped the entire 45 minutes to the stable.
Jan had selected a well-mannered, soundly schooled real horse for Elizabeth.  Mom and I just stayed out of the way as Elizabeth sponged-up the little bit of guidance that Jan gave her.  Elizabeth settled into professional horse-handling mode.  She groomed, helped saddle, hopped aboard, set her legs at the perfect line from her shoulder and that was it. She walked. She trotted. She guided the horse around poles. I'd never seen the child be so focused and serious. This was an unseen side of this joyous, happy-go-lucky child.  Jan had the wisdom to assess Elizabeth and give her the trust to go to it like a big girl.
Elizabeth spoke not a word on the way home.  She seemed to be in a horse-trance.  Once home, she told me two facts that were important to her.  One, she hadn't been able to decide on which pair of lucky socks to wear, so she wore one of each. Two, this would not be her last ride on a real horse. She intended to find horses near to where they were moving and to ride all the time. Yes! I created a budding horse junkie -- like me.

More from Candace…
Candace’s Riding & Writing interview
Missouri Misery a short story by Candace Wade

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