Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Reluctant Champion

Leann once told me Dime would teach me to be a good rider. 

This quirky, anxious little bay TB gelding (Twice Bold - Five Cent Stamp (Round Table)) 4/13/1982, a compact fellow with superb balance, a dazzling swing of a walk, a perfect canter and round jump, was with me for 27 years.

 He was my joy, one of my boys, appealing, sweet and gentle. He would nicker his welcome whenever he saw me coming. He stood, solid as a rock, for the farrier, for the vet, for baths, for mounting. He rarely spooked, but in the early years, would bolt with little warning, reaching a flat out gallop in a brief flash. But he grew to love his work, moving catlike and effortlessly over the less demanding courses he preferred. Yes, he had a powerful jump, but would frighten himself with it so required an expert approach and recovery. There was no rushing Dime, or the frantic horse would appear. Panic could easily overcome the fragile confidence of this horse, but when he was on, he was spectacular.

He was shown locally in the hunter divisions for several years. To see him float over a course almost soundlessly was amazing to me. Light of foot, wings on his heels, precise. He usually won or placed high in the hack classes, going on about his business of showing off with a fair amount of brilliance. On occasion, he competed in the low jumper divisions. Leann always rode him exactly as she did in the hunter ring, with precision,deliberation and attention. He was careful, almost too careful, and quick, but it was too easy to cross that fine line into what seemed to be sheer terror.

But he was a champion in the show ring in our modest local shows. He made me proud and allowed me to enjoy again the world I had known as a youngster, back in the late 50s and early 60s, when I showed horses belonging to others with modest success. This time, I was an adult owner living a dream with my first horse. I never really showed him because we both came to the realization that showing was not for either of us, so by the time he had become a school master, he was living a life of ease and teaching me the self knowledge necessary to connect with him to the depths of his soul.

Did he make me a good rider? He made me confident, finally, after years of apprehension brought on by his quickness and reactivity. He and I read each other, finally, after I learned his language and really began to listen to him. He taught me to feel what flying is about...not speed, but effortlessness, empathy and joy. He prepared me for my adventures with Boo, he who was so much more uncomplicated compared to her opinionated mareishness.

Dime made me much more than a good rider. He made me a horseperson, a human being of sensitivity, observation and reality.

Dime was put down 15 June, 2013 of the infirmities of old age. He still had his magnificent walk and gallop. His eyes were wise, but tired, and it was time to let him go.