in which salome and rachel go to heaven

One of the things Salome and I have in common is that when we were children, we dreamed and prayed and yearned for any walk in the park to end with us meeting someone who bred beautiful horses, who gave us a ride and offered to let us compete on their best stallion.

We took the husbands and kids to Golden Gate Park today. Salome said there was a dressage show and I wanted to go looking for it. I’ve been missing horses more and more, the reins in your ring fingers, the sway of your hip when you pick up the canter lead.

“I saw three people riding Arabs on the trail,” I said to Salome. “They broke into a canter and it broke my heart.”

“I know! Doesn’t it make you ache?”

So we found the arena. No dressage show, just one trailer and five Morgan mares tied to the fence and forty pounds of carrots. The horses made my eyes glad, so I went over to sit down.

“Hello!” said the woman in charge.

“I’m just admiring,” I said.

“Admire and give carrots!” she said. “I did a pony party, and I posted to Craigslist that people could come and give carrots to the horses until four.”

We gave carrots and got talking. Her name is Joan Zeleny and she breeds Morgans. Her stallion can jump four-foot coops for eight hours at a time, and she’d love someone to take him eventing. I said that Salome had come second in her last ride at Woodside, and that my one-and-only three day was on a half-Morgan mare.

“Do you want to take the kids for a ride?” she asked. We did. We walked around the arena with Claire and Milo on the front of the saddle.

“Do you want to take a couple of the mares out for half an hour?” she asked. I think we embarrassed her with our gratitude. “It’s nice to see them with people who can ride,” she said gruffly.

We left the kids with their fathers and rode into the woods like overgrown twelve-year-olds whose childhood dreams have come true. Our mares, Jasmine and Rosie, stepped out, goggled at everything they saw and responded to the lightest aids.

On the way, we passed the three riders on their Arab horses; and my broken heart was healed.

See, this is why you should always always wear riding boots, wherever you are going, whatever you think you are going to do.

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