“A Trail Ride”
By: Maggie Harling
My friend and I have been learning to ride for some years, usually in a large indoor arena. Occasionally we would get to ride in an outdoor paddock, always careful not to get too hot in the sun. We both have MS, so we have very slowly progressed from having side walkers accompany us at all times to gradually gain enough confidence to ride independently.
Last Saturday, because of traffic, we arrived late and we expected to have an abbreviated lesson before the Pony Club kids arrived after us as they always do. But no, our teacher told us that we were going for a trail ride! We took our horses out of the barn and wandered down a country lane toward a state forest. The sky was clear and the sun was bright, but the air felt crisp and cool. Fields on both sides of the road were bursting with that new green which is so unique to spring and the birds sang in a riotous chorus. When we turned into the woodland the ride became magical. Sunlight filtered through the new leaves making the woodland light dappled and we followed each other along an uneven trail that no MSer could ever walk. We saw birds, mushrooms, and new shoots of green everywhere. We were hiking–something I never thought I’d be able to do again! I thought about what an amazing privilege it was to be able to get out into a woodland and enjoy the smells, sights, and sounds without worrying about falling or becoming too tired to continue. We rode through the woods for at least an hour before clopping back along the road to the barn. Quietly–my heart bursting with joy–I thanked my horse, my teacher, and my barn family for the wonderful freedom they had given me…