Thursday, August 02, 2007

A Perfect Day...After a Few Deep Breaths

Bear Creek Lake Park, from the saddle.

This morning I went for a trail ride at Bear Creek Lake Park. Having ridden last weekend (see Back in the Saddle), I thought I was all over my horsey fears. However, when it came time to get ready to go I started panicking.

First I couldn't find my wallet, and once I found it I misplaced it again. Then I freaked out over last year's bloodstains on my helmet cover, which hadn't washed out. I thought I'd wear it anyway, but every time I looked at it my chest and throat tightened. A half-hour before I was supposed to leave, I tried to rub the stains out with cream of tartar (a friend told me it's good on rust), but they stayed as dark as ever. No way I could put that thing on my head. I put it in the trash; it's 20 years old anyway. I ended up wearing the unadorned helmet over a white cotton Bookazine cap I got at BEA years ago, which has a nice big visor.

Eventually I rattled out of the house and into the car--then had to go back in because I'd forgotten something. I was really shaky behind the wheel at first, and had to do some deep breathing and think calming thoughts (as learned during my treatment for PTSD; more about that another time). Listening to a Tracy Nelson CD helped even more. Let's hear it for "Down So Low"!

Once I got to the park, though, everything was A-OK. However, Jenny made it clear that I was crazy to think she'd sit in the car while I had fun outside. Fortunately my ride started a few minutes late so she got to run around a bit, after which she didn't mind being in the car, which I parked under a big shady tree.

There were only four of us, plus the teenaged wrangler, on the trail. Happily for me I was put in the rear, due to the fact that Big Momma, though calm (she appeared to be part Percheron), tends to kick any horse behind her. We rode at a snail's pace, and every now and then I'd stop so we could trot to catch up.

The woman in front of me could barely ride at a walk (that's her in the pic below), and her young son ended up being led by a rope because he couldn't make his horse mind. Even so, when we got back she said she wished we'd galloped. "Gallop?!" I exclaimed. "Well, at least trot," she hedged. Yeah right.

On the trail behind the would-be Rough Rider.

Jenny was in luck after that: We had a good long walk around a big pond and by a creek, during which she reminded me yet again that she really, really wants to be a country dog. Then, as I had time to kill before a lunch date, we walked along Bear Creek in Lair o' the Bear Park near Morrison. Better still, after lunch at Bear Creek Restaurant in Kittredge, my lunch companion and I sat at a picnic table while Jenny frolicked in the creek. I drove home very slowly via Kerr Gulch, which boasts lovely green (!) scenery and white-knuckle hairpin turns.

A favorite sign on the way D-O-W-N to Denver.

Perhaps best of all, after weeks of drought, this evening it rained for almost three hours. I opened all the windows just so I could hear it. Bliss!


Anonymous said...

Good for you, Bella, that you're fighting that fear. I've followed your travails since the accident - and am SO impressed that you're back in the saddle again. Hopefully each time will get easier!

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Wonderful job, Bella!

billie said...

Hi, Bella,

I read about your accident on Miss Snark's site and read with delight a few days ago of your return to the saddle.

I'm a writer and a rider and a psychotherapist specializing in working with folks dealing with trauma, so your posts on this are fascinating and wonderful to read.

I hope subsequent rides go well. There's nothing quite like being on a horse.

And I highly recommend the Charles Owen helmets..!

Thanks for sharing the journey.