Saturday, May 24, 2008

Trail Ride Number Five & Misc

The previous blog was supposed to be posted yesterday morning but before I could finish it, the internet connection spazzed out. Fortunately, blogspot automatically saves drafts so what I wrote wasn't lost.

Lim and I went on Trail Ride Number Five yesterday. We went through the tunnel that goes beneath Naperville Road for the first time. When she first saw the gaping black maw of the tunnel, her head went up and she paused. We were with an experienced trail horse and I put her a little to the side and behind him and we went through just fine. At one point, she looked right at the other horse's face. When the tunnel was safely behind us, the woman I was with said a loud vehicle had gone overhead at that point. Lim had been looking to her horse for guidance.

Each time we emerged from the tunnel, Limerick looked to each side of the opening for boogiemen, which made me laugh.

Since Limerick is such a fast walker, she usually pulls ahead (or tries to) of the other horse(s) we are with. Normally I will keep a firm hold on the reins so she can't do this, but yesterday I decided to let her go ahead. She was in the lead the majority of the time (the other horse to our side and a little behind) but she was just fine.

We went around a bare cornfield, through a beautiful grove of trees on the prairie, and back onto the main path. It was gray, chilly day. The wind whipped Limerick's mane into a mohawk and my thighs shivered beneath my thin breeches. What happened to the 75-degrees-and-sunny day we were supposed to have?

On the way back to the barn, there was a wedding off the path at the Danada Equestrian Center. As we walked by, the wedding-goers gaped at the horses. Limerick looked at them and I could only imagine what her big white face, pricked ears, and big eyes looked like to them.

I would love to try more trotting on the trails; we haven't done very much of that. Then the next step would be a canter. I imagine it would be fall by then. What a beautiful image...cantering down the limestone path through the crisp dry smell of autumn, cantering through falling, fluttering, dancing golden leaves, mottled sun hitting us through sparse patches in the forest.

A couple weeks ago, I received a surprise in the mail. My husband had ordered some things for me through A Taste of Kentucky. I got this year's Derby glass and a large poster of Secretariat. The poster is a print of a painting commemorating the 35th anniversary of Secretariat's Kentucky Derby win.

We took it to Michael's to have it matted and framed, and picked it up today. It looks amazing, I can't wait to hang it up on our living room wall. It will nicely compliment the Man o' War print already hanging on our wall.

I can't believe it's been thirty-five years since Secretariat won the Triple Crown. I know I wasn't even born then, but that doesn't matter. I have a VHS tape of his Belmont Stakes win and I like to watch it every now and then.

Secretariat's Triple Crown transcends horse racing. It goes far beyond the realm of sports, through art, and into...what? Something phenomenal, but even phenomenal is too weak a word. For thirty-five years, artists, writers, and poets have tried hard to capture what Secretariat accomplished that year...and while some have come close, all have failed to reach the same dimension of Secretariat's Triple Crown.

The best, the only, way to fully understand is to watch for yourself.

On my copy of the Belmont Stakes, only the actual race has audio. As the camera zooms in on Secretariat flying down the homestretch, his powerful red legs reaching out further and further, never faltering, the sound of the crowd roaring almost overtakes your senses. He crosses the finish line, and then suddenly, there is no audio.

The aftermath of a horse race is rarely exciting.

But right now, as the audio dies, your eyes work alone to take in one of the most beautiful sights in racing history. Maintaining rhythm, Secretariat softly downshifts to a canter. He is all alone on the track, his big red hindquarters moving as fluid as ever, his head down, chin tucked. He shows no sign of weariness from the dominating show of power he has just displayed. He canters on and on, eternally alone. The silence is overwhelming.

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