Yesterday I had lunch in Herkimer with my good friends Dottie Gaffey and Kristin Keno. These two women are frequent visitors to MRF and therefore, are acquainted with all of the residents here. Both of them are devout animal lovers whose friendship I value immensely.
Today's excerpt from Finding My Way to Moose River Farm is from the preface for Part II. Join me as I gallop my 23 year old trusted and true partner, Zambezi for an exhilarating workout through our neighboring property, Adirondack Woodcraft Camp.
Time to Ride
Zambi and I continue our gallop into camp passed the dining hall, basketball court and soccer field. The scenery changes from dark woods to open fields and back to woods again. Zambi doesn’t seem to notice the shadows that wave with the potential to spook a horse. After all, this is my trusted and true partner who exudes confidence therefore, elevating mine. It is the essential ingredient when riding horses safely, whether the rider is participating in her first lesson or the Rolex Four Star Three-Day Event in
. She must trust her horse and vice versa. Kentucky
Zambi and I press onward. He has to adjust his frame to maintain balance as we go down a small hill that appears on the trail. I stay out of his way. My job is to monitor our speed. Zambi is so focused on the trail that he only slightly startles when a deer suddenly crashes through the woods flagging a warning with her white tail to three other deer following behind her. My heart skips a beat at the potential disaster that might have occurred had I been riding some of my other horses. Dwelling stops when I remind myself that I would never even consider this activity on those horses. Zambi and I continue our steady pace.
Eventually, we approach one of the kettle lakes, (another remnant gouged out by the receding glacier), at camp. The shimmering water distracts Zambi for a split second before we enter another wooded section of the trail created by a stand of tall Hemlock trees. We gallop for one more minute before I am forced to pull him up at the camp road. We are both breathing heavily from our effort. My thigh muscles burn from supporting my weight in two-point position for so long. I reach down to stroke and pat his neck.
“Good boy ZZ, good boy,” I tell him. “Didn’t that feel great?”
I release the short contact of the reins, allowing him to walk ‘on the buckle’ across the road and into another section of wooded trail. Walking allows us to catch our breath and rest before we take off again.
My mind begins to wonder about the enormous gratitude that mankind owes to horses. They have provided and sacrificed so much over many thousands of years only to be replaced rather quickly in the last century by motorized technology. Did the soldiers of the Civil War and World War I ever have a chance to bask in their relationships with the horses who served them? Or were the horrors witnessed during wartime just too traumatic and numbing, thus preventing them from connecting with their horses emotionally. This is not a criticism. I only question if there had been emotional connections, would a soldier have derived some degree of comfort from his horse?
At the end of World War I, tens of thousands of war horses were slaughtered, to provide much needed protein for nations all over
ravaged by and recovering from a devastating war. This is just one more example of the gift God
has provided for mankind in the horse.
Perhaps I am most thankful for the fact that I live in an era when horses owe humans nothing and horse ownership is a privilege rather than a necessity. It takes hard work and a huge financial commitment to keep horses in my life. Although what Zambi and the other horses give back to me is difficult to articulate, it is priceless and worth every bit of the effort.
I trust Zambezi...implicitly!