Love and tumbles with horses. Learning to gather together.


Today out with Hope and Cherish. The grass was green. The sky was beautiful. Clouds rolled in more as we went along. The day was fairly quiet. There was a glad roaring wind–like a toddler flapping branches, saying, “See mommy! Look how much noise! Flying! We’re flying!” While he runs across the tree tops and stirs the forest to come alive.

It felt like a group day. The last few days I had been focusing on getting the horses more comfortable doing things alone. But today? Today felt like togetherness. The horses felt it, too. And we all breathed a little deeper for it.

We came up to the barn together, a rope looped around Cherish’s neck, Hope’s rope draped with slack. It was nice, the feeling. Like walking hand in hand with someone you’ve known for a long time and care for deeply. We stopped together, turned together, slowed together. Not for technique, but for being together. For helping each other. They forgave my tumbling and lack of coordination–for some day, I felt almost as tumbly as the wind. My hands dropped, my arms missed, I placed halters against eyes and forgot what I was doing. And I laughed. I laughed at myself, my apparent tumbliness for the day, and took a deep breath. So they laughed with me. Or at least… patiently waited.

I groomed them both, Hope first and then Cherish, while they were tied at the barn posts. I paused several times to chat with my mom, or stroke one of them. We were in no rush. I talked with them casually as I un-knotted manes and cleaned dried mud off of legs. And we breathed.

Today, I wasn’t perfect. I woke up feeling the heartache and the beauty and the love of the world, all together. I had a tension in my stomach that made me not want to eat. My hands and arms were as tumbly as the wind. But the horses didn’t mind, I imagine because I have been soft and kind with them, and even among my lapses, I was here. With them. Together. It wasn’t just tumbles and tension I felt. Those feelings lived along with an embracing feeling of love. For them. For those I love. For the world.

I tacked Cherish up slowly. I let her smell the bareback pad. I waited for her to shift her weight toward me and soften and breathe. Just stood. I put it on her gently, tenderly. The same way I would put a sock on an infant. With a lot of love. I fumbled with her bitless bridle. Hope waited patiently, watching us (until Finale left–honestly, she was a bit worried, so I stopped to speak with her and touch her gently, stroking her down her neck until she settled and realized she was not alone, and she was not being left). And when I brought them together, I gathered them and their ropes slowly, with thought and care. We had practiced this many times now in the last few months, just walking with each other, back and forth to different places, and then while we were working on different things. They knew to wait. I like to think we’re all learning to enjoy waiting.

And so, we went. Together, the three of us. We fumbled in slow motion with our setup at the mounting block. Everyone was calm. I didn’t mind gathering together slowly. We turned, lined up, I called Hope to turn and stand with us when she got a bit ahead. I even got on awkwardly. I laughed at myself, lightly–sometimes you have to. Cherish breathed out. We paused, all standing together. We gathered. I breathed. And we went.

We walked. We trotted–what great fun! We turned softly. We paused. We walked some more. But mostly, we gathered. In each moment, we gathered, leaving slowlness, leaving space, having time to transition, to change. I started the feelings in my body. I opened my heart, for me, and around them. And we gathered. Together. Like a happy little slow motion tumbly family.

Not every moment was perfect. Today I was not stellar with coordination. The rope got under Cherish’s tail at one point, and she clamped it, starting a slow-motion spin that stopped when I soothed her, stroking her deeply. Hope snatched grass at one point and the motion tugged at my arm awkwardly. But there was no harshness here. No quickness, no corrections, no chiding. But I loved my horses. I stroked them, I stopped with them, we watched things together, I brought them together, they touched each other, Hope touched me on the leg, I touched them each on the neck. We took time. But I shared joy with them. I laughed with them. I talked with them. I praised them, I giggled with them. I smiled with them. I didn’t pay mind to what didn’t matter. And we gathered. So the rest–the imperfect stuff–it didn’t matter.

Isn’t that why we join with them in the first place–to be together (to-gether=to-gather)? To feel love? To feel joy?

Enjoy your horses. Forgive yourself for your tumbles. Give yourself time. Trust me, they do not mind. They will learn to wait for you. And in learning to wait for each other, you will begin to receive the gift of being together.

Published by Kara Cumberton

Wellness and horses are my things. I'm a rider, a bodyworker, and a college student studying integrative health and wellness. I also love nature, yoga, my dog, art, writing, and cooking.

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