Saturday, August 9, 2008

My Sweet Gelding

Earlier this week, after a day of thoroughly cleaning a bathroom, my bad knee stiffened up and has been very painful since. I suspect that weeks of gardening took their toll and the cleaning binge that involved lots of kneeling and getting up were the last straw. I suspect a torn meniscus is going to be the diagnosis.

At any rate, yesterday I visited the barn to deliver the board check and a bucket of psyllium, not intending to ride but hoping to at least visit a little with my horse, Scottie. Since the horses were all in the arena seeking shade and relief from the flies, I grabbed his halter and ever so carefully managed to sort him out of the herd and put him in the cross ties. To my relief, I managed this feat without being mobbed and knocked down as I hobbled painfully amongst them.

Usually, Scottie is very eager when being led and tends to lead me rather than the other way around. He's either eager for apple wafers from the grooming box or eager to rejoin his pals. Not yesterday. When he saw me limping toward him, a look of concern came over his face, and as I walked him ever so slowly down the aisle, he matched his steps to mine and kept his head right at my shoulder.

Scottie's one fault, if you can call it that, is that he's very impatient in the cross ties, paws a lot and swings his hind quarters from side to side, sometimes right into me. He's forgotten his manners around humans since I've been riding so little. But not yesterday. He stood quite still as I limped around him cleaning his feet and grooming him and only moved away from me, never toward me.

By the time I was done, the rest of the horses had left the arena which usually would have made him even more eager to rejoin them, but not yesterday. As I led him slowly down the aisle to the gate, he again kept his head at my shoulder and took halting steps so that he wouldn't go ahead of me. For him it was step, pause; step, pause; step, pause.

I can only conclude that Scottie knew I was hurt and was being protective of me. That really warmed my heart and caused me to wonder, as I do every time I come to the barn, why I don't come out more often to ride this very special horse.

The same thought goes through my mind every time I sit down at the easel or drawing board; why don't I do this more often? Why do other things always seem more urgent than riding my horse or creating my art? It doesn't help any that many other artists experience the same aversions to creating their art. The reasons are as varied as our unique life experiences, I suppose, and yet somehow the same.

I know personally that the reasons go way back into my difficult childhood. There was teasing and bullying at school because I was different; "that girl who runs around like a horse all the time". There were other serious issues at home. I'll just say that my relationship with my parents, and particularly my mother, has always been a rocky one, right up to the present. Even 94 year old, bedridden old ladies can still manage to push buttons with a few words or tones of voice!

As my mother approaches the end of her life and goes through the process of evaluating it, I do the same and try to make sense of our relationship; trying to remember the good amongst all the negatives and then find some balance between the two. It's a painful process and takes a lot of energy away from doing things that bring me joy. It's time for that to change.

Since gardening and heavy duty house cleaning are for the moment out of the question, this is the opportunity to get back in the studio and resume work on Bard's portrait, so long neglected now. While I do that, I'll be working on resolving the reasons that I find it so difficult to allow myself to spend time doing the two things that mean the most to me in my life: spending time with my horse and spending time creating art.

If Scottie is capable of showing compassion toward me, surely I am capable of showing myself some compassion and allowing myself to "indulge in" my two greatest loves: my horse and my art. After family, of course.

The artwork above is titled, "In My Dreams" and shows Scottie in his youth. The photo below is Scottie as he is today at age 23.

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