This is something I wrote before I lost Chey. I think it has relevance: so I am posting it.
I have been thinking, I am so glad that I’m old. I’m glad I’m old, because it makes me much more sensitive to what I need to do to keep this older horse of mine in the best physical and mental condition that I can. It is not so different from what will keep me in the best physical and mental condition. And I find that when your physical and mental condition are good, your emotional condition tends to improve, as well.
But, physical condition becomes more of a problem as you age. The deterioration in joints, the slowing of metabolism, the reduction in Vo2max. I gave us both the winter off; and if she is in the same condition I am – well, I am trying to come back. It is giving me guidance on what to expect from her. We can both come back, and even exceed former limits, but not by much. We need to focus on maintenance now, and that means consistency and mindfulness. Consistency to stay with a program, mindfulness to be aware of when to push and when to yield.
While athleticism may be limited, at our ages, I have found a way to continue to grow. Emotionally. The bond between us. Building the trust to where we can do things that were once frightening to us. The clippers. The spangly jangly boxes. Unsteady footing like a teeter-totter. Each of these seems a small thing – but they are beads on a necklace. The necklace is more than the sum of its parts. What the necklace represents, is the connection, the communion, the trust, we have found in each other. Because of Chey, because she released me from fear and those ancient feelings of rejection, I am deeper, I am richer. Because of Chey, my capacity for love has increased by orders of magnitude.
Because of the beads we strung together, I have ridden this horse in an open field, without a saddle and without a bridle. Let me turn my mind away from 100 mile endurance rides or 6’ fences. Let me turn it now to awareness, to trust, to joy, to love, in the pathways this horse has shown me. That is where we can still grow. Our bodies age. Our hearts do not.