We come through the tangle of mown hay at a controlled three-beat canter. Her head is high, right ear is forward, the left swiveling to catch my whispered counting. I count to remember to breathe. Positioned above her, I have shock absorbers in my hips, knees and ankles, absorbing the rhythm of her speed. The relatively level ground begins to rise, and around the corner we mount a steep hill. She can’t see over the top, but I know a jump looms at the crest.
It’s a large brushy-covered pile of logs, filling the opening in a stone wall. The dappled light in the forest on the other side is darker, obscuring the trail. I feel her muscles bunch and I sit a bit deeper, slowing my body and hers as we approach. And I speak to her softly as the tension builds. “Slowly now, look, let’s count together, be ready.” Her ears gyrate and try to listen but her body is coiled. Her foot-falls become more insistent and jarring. I look ahead into the woods, my mind already past this obstacle.
She rises up in front of me and I follow her fluid motion with my whole body, sitting back as we touch down. The flight last seconds, but being airborne, one has no sense of time. From rhythmic forward, to flight, to drop and go, the entire experience is one of being present. I can’t text or answer the phone, there is nothing to focus on but those seconds. She and I are the only beings in existence. And sometimes, that’s what keeps me semi-sane.