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Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened.

Ride with your heart and soul ~ your horse can feel it

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Last Ride

*note this is not a "Rainbow Bridge" story*
My mare Cessa is 29 this year. Age is catching up to her and I know, at least in my mind, that any day could be The Day. That's something my heart has trouble remembering.
Cessa is retired now. The vets say that as long as she seems comfortable I can ride her, lightly. I'll admit that I haven't really. From time to time I'll saddle her and pop on for a little walk around the yard or the arena. That's about it, even that little bit makes me feel guilty. Cessa has earned her retirement. So she gets to roam the pastures for exercise and if I want to I can pony her off Applejack.
But I remember the last "real" ride I had on her. The last time that I rode her with any expectation. The last ride that she actually had to do any degree of work.
It was about 2 years ago. Yes that would make her 27, but that day she felt much younger.
I brought her into the barn, groomed her and saddled up. She seemed to have an extra glint in her eye that day. A little more pep in her step as I led her out of the barn.
The weather was beautiful. Warm, not hot. We headed across the yard and down the driveway. Turned left and headed into the nice, grassy ditch. Cessa gave a toss of her head, her shiny mane flirting with the soft breeze.
The last few years when walking away from home she'd go slowly, almost like she felt like a feeble old lady. Of course that was a trick. As soon as we turned for home she'd be jigging and prancing. But that day her walk was smooth and forward. Like she had places to go and things to do.
We crossed the neighbour's driveway and settled into a jog. Of course neither of us was happy with that for long and we kicked it up to a nice long trot.
I didn't want to tire Cessa so after a few minutes of trotting I sat deep and we settled into that beautiful, smooth walk again.
Cessa kept tossing her head and occasionally would take a playful, quick step. Almost as if to say "C'mon lets GO! Let's make the most of this great day and have a FUN ride!" I gave in and squeezed with my legs as I opened my fingers a bit on the reins. Cessa didn't need a second invitation and flowed into a slow lope.
I smiled as I watched her ears flicking back and forth as we rocked along. Cessa was breathing nice and easy. She felt solid and steady... and ready.
I moved my hand forward the tiniest bit and she sped up a fraction. One ear was locked forward, the other one kept flicking back to me.
I put on a bit more leg and she happily kicked it up a notch. We played this game for a minute or two. A bit more leg, a bit freer rein and she'd speed up. Every time giving me exactly how much I asked for. Then I sat deep and we went back to a walk. Breathing a bit hard but not too bad Cessa kept playfully tossing her head and trying to sneak in a quicker step or two. She still wanted to run.
Instead I made her walk for a little longer before I gave her a pat and some leg and off we went again. This time I just let her run. Hand forward onto her neck, a deep squeeze with my leg. She sped up in fractions for the first few strides. Almost like she couldn't believe I was letting her go.
She loped the first few strides. Then loped a little faster. A few more strides and a little faster. And then she WENT. I could feel her mouth firm on the bit but not lugging and that wonderful surge of muscles as she hurtled into high gear. The breeze and the speed created tears that streamed from my eyes. For awhile I sat steady and let her run as fast as she wanted.
With a happy sigh I pulled my hand back closer to the horn and sat deep. Cessa slowed to a lope and then a reluctant trot. After a stride, or three, I closed my fingers more on the reins and she somewhat grudgingly came back to a walk.
Her bay coat was glossy with a light sweat as we walked home. I think when we got back to the barn we were both smiling.
To this day the memory of that ride is something I hold dear in my heart.


  1. Sounds like a great memory! I love being one with my horse, running like the wind.

  2. Girl, you're gonna make me cry....

    Rub that fine old mare from me please.

  3. great memory, one I'm sure you'll always remember!

  4. I think Cessa, was telling you then, on that ride, that this was, or would be the last best ride she could produce. Sort of a Swansong! When every great performer gives that final show! To much applause and happiness! A lovely ride, to be cherished. Hugs to Cessa!

  5. Well written and heart warming post.I have yet to own a horse that grows old with me; I'm hoping Beamer will be the one.

  6. Lovely! I have some good memories of rides on my old gelding Noble (now 30) - he loved to run and was very fast.

  7. What a beautiful ride to be able relive your memory! I hope Cessa is healthy and around your place for a long time.

  8. And I bet she stops once in awhile, closes her eyes... and remembers when she took you for a "good" ride :)

    We call them "lifetime" horses, and theres a reason for that...

  9. 三分之一的人生,可以決定另外三分之二的人生!!共勉哦!.............................................

  10. beautiful!
    I bet she remembers that ride too!
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  11. What a perfect memory of her. That's the one you will always remember.

  12. Beautifully written! What a story! Almost had me in tears, there. It seems to me that she knew.....

    I think about this sort of thing with my mare. She is going to be 14 this summer, and for the first time I am aware that she is getting older. I hope I still have her at 29.

  13. That was so well written, I think I was riding with you.... makes me think of my old guy, now 33, and riding him in his younger days. :)

  14. Awwww. This was just so beautiful and so well written. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside :)

    Are you really sure she's done with giving you rides like that?

    I recently read about a couple of winning endurance horses that were in their late 20's and early 30's that were still competing on 50-100milers...and doing it because they wanted to and would have been unhappy being at home with nothing to do.

    You're so lucky to have your forever horse and she's lucky to have you to give her a lifetime home. You will always treasure those special moments together. :)


  15. I was with you on that ride. What a wonderful memory, you have me all misty eyed. I hope she gives you many more wonderful years.

  16. That is such an awesome memory. Thank you for sharing!