I haven't felt great lately. Today, instead of going to bed after church or reading a book, I decided to do something about it. The perfect pre-fall weather triggered in me the need for a ritual that has been part of my whole life, except for the past 11 years or so.
Every Sunday in my childhood times, I went with my Daddy to the farm and rode his old mare Penny (whom you have read about before) while he did small tasks, always keeping an eye on me.
"I sure wish we had an arena to ride in," I'd say. "Go ride in the orchard," was his reply. "Be happy with what you've got." I had it all and didn't know it.
We rode down what is now Dandridge Road, across Highway 305, down in the "bottom" land. Later I graduated to other horses and brought my three children with me. They rode ponies that balked and ran up banks, just to make them squeal. The kids finally won, and we ended up with a couple of good ponies.
I was so lucky that when Daddy was unable to take us on a Sunday ride, we had a nearby farm neighbor who led us on great trails. We rode around cotton fields and over ditches. Sometimes I'd look back and see the smallest pony, Nugget, chest-deep in ditch water while the other horses were taking it about knee-level. The kids just stuck their feet out and rode through.
Until today, I hadn't ridden since we sold that last show horse in 2003. The Sunday ritual called, and I put on my back brace and went to ride.
Growing up with Quarter-type horses, I wasn't sure about this spotted saddle horse my daughter put me on, but we got along great. My back was sore, the stirrups rubbed my bone spur in the wrong place—even my saddle squeaked with neglect. This is the saddle I bought for another daughter and paid it off $25 a month for what seemed like forever.
That saddle is like me. Still looks OK at a distance, but its parts are a little dry and rusty. But on this beautiful, slightly cool day, I felt totally rejuvenated. I may be in some health professional's office this week, but it was so worth it. Sometimes things get in your blood that just can't be ignored.
Oh, and we had some pretty good conversation on the trail. My heart is happy.