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When you are on a work-to-ride lease, that ride is the end of the rainbow, the carrot at the end of the stick. I muck stalls, lug water buckets, measure out feed, spread shavings, and throw hay for two hours. The time flies and my back never hurts because for those two hours of work I receive an hour of heaven, lifted off the earth, suspended by my horse, Sport. At times flying, at times merely floating, and at all times fulfilled.

Unfortunately, the snow came to Virginia Beach in February. We usually see an inch or two at most, never lasting for more than a day or so. This winter was like no other, in most every state, and ours was no exception. I've lived here for ten years and this was the first time my ride was snowed out. One Saturday, the trails were too icy, the next Saturday they were too slushy.

My chores would not be instantly rewarded. I had to bank my rides for a nice spring evening hopefully to come in a few weeks, after Daylight Savings Time allowed for a ride after work. Besides having my hopes deferred, the chores were harder. More water was lugged farther since it was below freezing and the automatic waterers were turned off, everything together taking almost three hours. It was also harder to move around in my three layers of fleece! My nose ran, my fingers froze, and my eyes watered. I may have emigrated from The Great White North, but after ten years, I don't handle below freezing temperatures well at all.

Then the work was done. I finally got to go hang out with Sport before seeking the warmth of my van. I called his name as I walked across the pasture to him, and he nickered in response. He left his hay and his friends, sauntering over to meet me halfway. I gave him a horse treat and he continued to lick my hand long after there was any trace of treat left on it. Horse kisses are the best! I buried my cold nose in his neck and was instantly warmed through. He bent his head around me in a half hug, and we just stood there, suspended in time. I was fulfilled. Sometimes you can float while standing on the ground. It all depends who you're with.

More about connection, chores, horse

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