I want to start this morning by thanking all of you who have written and commented, especially on the last two “boots” posts. They seem to have really connected with many of you. I know that’s because this whole experience of “losing” and “finding” Chandler has connected so much to us, and especially me. I hardly need to remind you that we are talking about us, but we hope we are also talking about you. What encourages me the most is the number of you who are applying parts of our experience with where you need it in your own life. That is, indeed, the whole point. We are not talking about ourselves as if our lives really mattered to you (with a nod to those of you who have told us that they do), but that you would see your own lives in ours. That you would make the connection. That you would draw out from our story that which applies to your story. Thanks for letting us know that you are doing this.
And thanks to Tim for his comments on horses. I wanted to write about our horseback riding experience today, but wasn’t sure I had enough material to write about, which is a huge understatement after reading the quotes Tim shared in his comments that I will pass on to you.
It was very important to Chandler that I ride with him. He worked very hard to make sure that happened. It required that the manager of the horses stay longer than her required hours in order to accommodate us. It also required, perhaps against her better judgment, that we ride during a threatening thunderstorm which materialized in a near-miss strike and stunning clap of thunder that spooked Chandler’s horse (he maintained control) and got us fairly wet by the time we got back. It all made for great adventure.
“There is nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse.” (John Lubbock, “Recreation,” The Use of Life, 1894.) Of course this applies to women as well, and especially girls, who seem to have a special relationship with horses, or so I have observed with Anne when she was younger.
I watched how good this was for Chandler as I followed him out to the pasture to get his horse, plodding painfully behind him in those uncomfortable boots. Of course his horse was the farthest away.
Dakota is his name, and, as part of the program, they pair the kids with horses so that an important bond can be created. That was evident in that Dakota seemed glad to see Chandler and cooperated with having a halter put on, and followed us willingly back to the corral. I didn’t have the same success. My horse kept walking away from me until I got help.
I watched as Chandler cleaned the mud out of Dakota’s hooves, brushed him, and got his saddle and bridle on. I followed suit, but had to have help cinching the saddle. That’s my least favorite part, because I never learned how tight is tight enough. And I marveled, as we rode, how much Chandler has connected out here where one state has claimed the sky as its own. It’s true. You can actually feel the sky out there.
Chandler has indeed made a real connection to the expanse; the simpler, small town environment; the natural elements; the structured life; and, of course, the horses. Chandler was so right to have insisted on making this happen. It was father and son sharing in something bigger than both of us combined. Speaking a common language.
We anticipated anger from Chandler over sending him away. We anticipated him trying to use every opportunity to talk us into bringing him home. Neither was a concern.
I honestly think Chandler is approaching this experience not as if he was sent away, but as if he was sent on ahead, as a scout, to find something better for us all. I truly think that’s what he thinks, and I must say, he’s starting to make a believer out of me.
[More quotes from Tim: “It is not enough for a man to know how to ride; he must know how to fall.” (Mexican Proverb) And Tim’s own is my favorite: “To build a relationship with an animal that could stomp you to death is mind-blowing.” (Tim Chalmers)]