Photographs by Garry Armstrong
Garry and I used to ride. Horseback. We rode horses. I started riding pretty young and before I got good at it, got pretty broken trying to find my way. I dragged Garry to take riding lessons with me when we were both in our fifties and it was great. He took to it like a duck to water. After watching westerns his whole life, he could now ride the high country with the best of them.
At some point in the mid 1990s, I had one nasty accident that completely unglued my spine. Riding, I was told, was out. Not just sort of out. Really, truly completely absolutely O-U-T. I’d heard this before, but I’d cheated because I really love horses. But this doctor was serious. He said one little fall and that would be “it” for walking.
That hurt. I have always loved horses. The smell of barns, the feel of a horse under me, the way they gather their muscles to make the next move. How you can feel their intentions in your feet and legs. I love the velvet of their noses and how they take food off your palm with those big soft lips.
Last night, more or less out of the blue, the granddaughter emailed me to say they were having an event at The Barn and would we like to come. Barn? What barn?
It turns out she is volunteering at a horse barn down the road, just over the Rhode Island line. “She’s learning to ride,” I told Garry. “It’s genetic. My mother rode. I rode. She can’t help herself. She needs a horse.”
He looked a little puzzled. “You show me a young woman volunteering at a barn and I will show you a young woman trying to work off riding lessons.” It’s a thing, young women and horses.
It also turned out she also needs a portrait lens for her camera. I can’t give her one because I don’t own a camera that size or style. In fact, the camera she has was my last full-size camera. I did tell her there’s a lot of Canon camera and lenses on sale these days — new and used — since so many people are changing to smaller cameras.I thought we might just be able to snag a lens for her. If she has time to drop by.
Garry took pictures. I took a few too. I got a delicious scent of horse barn while Garry’s thinking taking riding lessons again. He deserves it. Go Garry! It was a better than usual Saturday out here in the country.