| Michael Fralich, Norumbega Farm |
As I was riding on Woodman Road a recent morning, headed back to the barn, I glanced down at the road. I saw our tracks from a ride we took over the weekend. Then, the ground was soft. The tracks were deep. Now they were frozen in the dirt of the road. Seeing those tracks made me think of the commitment I made at the beginning of December to ride as often as possible. It’s taken me twenty years with Cyra, my Clydesdale-cross mare, to realize that taking a ride can be as simple as slipping her riding halter on, taking a look at her feet, then hopping on bareback and riding away.
In the past when my work centered around horses (I co-founded and helped run an Equine Assisted Psychotherapy practice for six years), I rode Cyra to work. She had her own client base who she interacted with every week. In between work days we typically did not ride much. I would occasionally meet up with riding buddies and ride on the weekends. That was a very hit and miss affair. When the practice was on break for our vacations, I might not ride at all for days on end.
I am retired now. I ride because, while in the past I focused my horse life to benefit others, I now ride because being on Cyra with Mocha, my English shepherd, running along is my medicine. It is what keeps me mentally and physically healthy. Put simply, it feeds my soul. It does not matter how many times I throw my leg over Cyra’s back, every time is a thrill and a challenge.
It is a thrill because I am never really sure what awaits us as we head out. It does not matter how many times I travel the same roads or trails, every ride is different. It is a challenge because sitting on top of a thousand-plus pound living being with her own strong opinions about life requires focus, strength (physical and mental), and patience. In the two decades we have been a team, I have continually learned new things about my equine friend.
Cyra has an eagle feather attached to her riding halter. It is never still as we make our way out into the world. Even though most of our rides are at a gentleman’s walk, I still feel like I am flying above the Earth Mother from my perch on Cyra’s back. Since I began this new phase of our journey together on the first of December, I have ridden forty-nine times. I am nearly sixty-nine. Cyra is somewhere around twenty. I figure we have a solid ten years together before one of us gives out. I look forward to many more times when I glance down to find we have been this way before.