Friday, October 16, 2009

my hobbled hobby

Hugging my Chantilly

Are hobbies things you do regularly,
or things you long to do every single day but never can?

Believe it or not, a Facebook Meme threw me into deep contemplation.

Yes. A Facebook Meme. That's possibly a sign of the apocalypse.

The first question was: What is your favorite hobby?

And I think that can be a very tough question.

My first answer, the answer of my heart, is horseback riding. There is nothing I love to do so much as ride horses. I like to go on trail rides, preferably on my horse, which takes a lot of empty land, which is rare here. I don't really like to ride in rings or go about in circles. I never feel as close to myself or God or nature or the Great Beyond as I do alone, on horseback, in the woods. Or galloping through the woods with other people who are too busy galloping to yap about piddly crap. I love to go on hunter paces on the weekends, driving into the mountains and riding through new places and seeing interesting things and never knowing what's going to be around the next corner.

My entire youth, I loved horses and longed to ride them. I got to go to one week of horse camp a year, and that was the best week of the year, every year, hands down. When I got too old for that, I just tried to forget. Pshawed the "horsey set" at school and didn't look at horse calendars and generally tried to forget that horses existed because I couldn't be near them. I tried to get involved with a barn in college, but they fired me because I couldn't take care of their horses on Christmas eve from 2 hours away in a snowstorm.

And then Dr. Krog and I moved to Pendleton, South Carolina, and I started riding lessons. And then I started teaching the lessons. And then I gave some fool $800 for my little mare, Chantilly, as seen in the picture above. See my face? Have you ever seen me so full of joy? Probably not, because no one reading this blog has ever seen me on horseback. I had two blissful years of horse ownership. And then we moved to Alabama, and the closest place I could afford to keep her was an hour from the city.

And then we moved here, and the closest I could keep her was Alabama, and a friend helped me sell her, and since then, I have tried as hard as possible to forget about horses. Even if there were woods and trails here, and even if I had money to burn, you can't take an 11 month old baby on back of a horse.

But I can't forget. I can't. When it rains, I can smell my saddles in the garage, getting ruined. When I went to Horsetown for my boots, my daughter asked me what bells and brushes and hoof picks and leathers were, and I told her, touching each thing lovingly like an old friend. And then, of course, there are the three beautiful horses I pass to and from my house every day, one of whom is a gorgeous, caramel-colored draft horse with the most lovely, bristle-brush mane. How I long to pat his big, rippy butt. Le sigh.

Anyway, my point is this: horseback riding is my hobby, and I haven't been on a horse in over a year. I paint, mainly because I don't have a choice. It's an imperative. When I have to paint, I paint. I write, mainly because it's a free, easy creative outlet. And sometimes I get paid for it. But it's also imperative-- if I don't blog, the day feels incomplete. And I read, because it's still the most cheap, relaxing and entertaining activity around.

So what's my hobby? What I do because I want to, or what I do because I have to? Something I do every day, or something that I never get to do, which makes me want to cry when I actually think about it? And then I get onto the subject of snorkeling, and I can't do that either, and BLAH.

What keeps me going, besides my convenient ability to purposefully forget things, is that I know with all my heart that one day, I'll have horses again. I'll have my own horse, and maybe a trailer, too. I'll have a place to ride, logs to jump over, creeks to ford. I'll take Dr. Krog and my kids out on rides and show 'em where the turkeys roost. I'll get to spend my Sunday mornings in the closest thing I've ever felt to church, riding alone through dappled shade with only the crunch of barefoot hooves and birdsong for company. One day, if all goes according to Dr. Krog's plans, I'll have horses in the front yard and get to eat my cereal on my front porch with a long, pinto face peeking over the railing with a mouthful of hay.

For now, dreaming of horses, or forgetting about horses, is my favorite hobby.


delilah, the unruly helpmeet said...

Sorry, guys. That's long and boring. But I had to get it off my chest. Maybe tomorrow I'll show you the plans I have for a mural in my son's room.

Stephanie Constantin said...

Now I feel bad about talking about horses with you this morning! :(

Beth said...

:-) Amen, and amen... horses have always been my main passion in life. Now, I fill my life with mini passions to stay sane (photography).

Enter child #1: sell my last horse, who is the horse I helped birth into the world when I was 15. My first horse's only colt. He's happily living in Oklahoma now :-(

Enter Child #2: I quit my career of training horses/riding instruction.

Enter Child #3 & #4: Horses? Yeah, right. I'm way too busy buying stock in Huggies, and chiseling the Cheerios off the hardwoods.

I will ride again, darn it. I will have a fun, bomb proof, steed to gallop over hills. I will.

Anyhow, just letting you know, you are not alone :-)

jarvenpa said...

Not too long, and certainly not boring. Poignant and true.

charissimo said...

As someone who can't imagine a life without horses, I feel your pain. Hang in there - an opportunity may present itself. I SO wish we lived closer for so many reasons. My horses need the work! Perhaps you may find someone nearby with the same problem. I love seeing your little mare!!