A year ago if someone told me the highlight of October 2015 would be walking Echo thru the woods, I would have thought you were crazy… Yesterday I had one of the best rides I have ever had with my best friend.

He was feeling good, prancing around throwing, his head even a few little hops. Eager to greet me in the field. I considered riding with a saddle like I usually do when he’s having a “spunky day” but opted for a completely different scenario. Bareback pad and a lead rope.

As we headed out, sweet old Cricket wanted to join us. I figured he’d stop after a few steps (he usually does) but he followed quite a ways down the lane and when we left him behind he stood calling out. Turning around, we walked with him back to the barn where he was gathered up and grained.

The sun was setting as we headed towards the woods. The wind had died down but the air was cool, even tho my car dash board said it was 67 out when I got there, I’d grabbed my sweatshirt to throw on. The air smelled like Fall. I thought I could see some deer ahead at the edge of the woods and imagined what a disaster that could be, with no brakes and no reins if Echo spooked. I stopped for a few seconds and considered turning back. We had taken no more than a few steps forward when Echo spooked but it wasn’t bad. I petted him and reassured him saying “we got this”

We were about 50 feet into the woods when he started snorting and tensing up. Then I saw the 4 white tails bobbing across the trail a ways ahead of us. Echo startled in place but did not bolt or turn to run. Further into the woods I watched a small deer go back across the trail. Echo didn’t react at all, as she blended into the muted colors of the trees, he couldn’t see her. Further in, I relaxed a bit just taking in the beauty of the moment. That’s when I saw them, 3 deer just to my left off the trail, within arms reach it seemed, standing perfectly still watching as Echo and I passed by with leaves crunching under his hooves.

I could hear some walnuts or acorns dropping occasionally thru the trees to the ground and laughed to myself remembering the time, a few years ago, Echo had been freaking out over a deer, backed into a small oak tree and we were showered with acorns (maybe 2 lol) and I was promptly deposited on the ground. How he stood with an embarrassed look on his face as I pulled myself back up into the saddle from a tree stump, cursing under my breath at him for being a sissy. It would have been louder but I had the wind knocked out of me. And here I was riding him with just a lead rope draped around his neck, no saddle to cling too, no stirrups or saddle horn to save me. Our ride was perfect… I know this sounds like I’m nuts but it was incredible.

“Our October 2015" was supposed to be MUCH different, “Epic” was the word I wrote at the top of the calendar for each month this year. Running at Congress was our goal for October 2015 written in bold ink. (kind of a bucket list thing for me 50 yrs old, running a mostly blind, 19 year old Arabian in the All American Quarter Horse Congress Sweeps) No, I didn’t think we’d win LOL! He usually “ falls in the crack” between 2D-3D at the IBRA Shows but he is consistent. I just wanted to put in a clean, respectable run on him and grab a black Congress jacket to celebrate just being part of it… When I set this goal, I wasn’t even sure physically I’d be up to doing it, but it gave me something to shoot for. This Spring all hopes of this were crushed forever with Echo becoming lethargic, stumbling around and a diagnosis of EPM. It has been a hard summer with ups and downs. I have caught myself moping around the last couple of weeks, a bit depressed.

Yesterday something in me changed. As we walked thru the woods, a sense of peace washed over me. I am so blessed to still have such a wonderful horse as Echo (my crazy little Arabian) No thrill of a great run, no need for speed, no black Congress jacket with pretty blue lettering to celebrate but I am still grinning ear to ear today. It was one of the best rides I have ever had with him. Just two friends making their way thru the woods together. Enjoying the beauty of the moment. I just wanted to share it with you.

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