I lead Lily up to my little blue and green Ikea stepstool that doubles as our mounting block, swing up into the saddle and lean down to give Carlos a kiss good-bye.
Lily is antsy and I let her trot up to the ride start. I call my rider number to the person taking our numbers, just as the trail opens. Lily and I head on out...and I realize that we are the first to leave camp. There is a group of people I am familiar with riding behind me, though. Lily asks to pick up a canter as we hit the trail and since she is relaxed in her request, I rise into a half-seat and let her swing up into her all-day canter. The riders behind me follow suit.
That's when it hits me.
I am at the front. Of an endurance ride. On my non-Arab mare that has never been tested in this position before. I have lost my mind.
I turn around to look and tell the group that wants to pace with me, "We should let the front runners pass." I hear other hooves cantering up behind us and wave to let them pass, but they choose not to.
So onwards we canter, this huge group of riders with Lily and me in the lead, all cantering down this wide double-track trail of fine gravel as it winds through Virginia fields and forests.
I keep Lily on the left of the trail in case anyone from the back decides to pass, and when that doesn't happen, I stop worrying about the riders behind us and simply let her fly along, her hooves ringing out across the valleys, "praca-pa-praca-pa-praca-pa..."
And it's just Lily and me and her dark brown ears in front of me and the wide open trail ahead of us. I am grinning from ear to ear: this is why we condition, both my horse and I. So that we can feel like we can ride forever. Just like this, like right now.
I wake up with a start, still grinning, still hearing Lily's shod hooves on the gravel in my ears.
It is the Women's March on DC today. Carlos is still sleeping beside me. I reach up above my head to grab my phone. Shanna is going to be at the March and had promised updates.
I had wanted to go SO BAD. I had wanted to go since the March was first announced back in November. I had grieved when it had been cancelled, and then celebrated when it was a "go" once again. In fact, I had been the one to bring up the idea of going to Shanna, and was super excited when she chose to go despite our cancelling at the last minute due to several different factors: my Friday had been nightmarishly busy, one of those days where I got out so mentally exhausted that I couldn't utter a sentence in English without stumbling over the words (I start thinking in Spanish when fatigued and my accent also gets stronger as a result), which meant we would have had to leave very, very early Saturday morning for DC and take the Metro in, since there most of the roads were going to be closed in downtown. I had been okay with this until hearing about the riots on Inauguration Day. When the Metro is full, it looks like this:
If something happens within the Metro to cause a human stampede when it is that full...I have a problem with crowds to begin with. I have gotten much better about it in open spaces, but in enclosed spaces, I find myself battling panic attacks.
To do the March right as a local, ideally one would do like Shanna did: drive down late Friday afternoon and walk to the March on Saturday morning from where you were staying at in order to avoid the Metro altogether. Being new at my current job (I couldn't request the day off) and having such a busy Friday to boot made it impossible for me to leave early so we ultimately chose to stay. And then the news of the riots in DC on Friday during Inauguration put a final damper on my remaining desire to attempt it. My heart still went to the March though.
And Shanna kept her word: it was 7:00 am when I woke up but there were updates already waiting for me!
I scrolled through her messages, then went on Facebook and checked for more updates from the huge number of people I knew were going, and also checked the news reports for good measure. I was still at this when Carlos woke up. I made coffee and we had toast with peanut butter. We were supposed to meet Tony at his new gym (he opened up his own place!) for training at 10:30 am, but we had plenty of time to kill. So Carlos looked up the March on YouTube on TV and we spent the next hour watching.
I wanted to burst with joy with what I was seeing. So, so, so many people.
|Photos from the internet|
|That banner right there. |
Many incorrectly think that this march was only about being pro-choice. While yes, that was a factor (and yes, openly anti-choice groups were excluded, but I can see why they would do that, given how combative both sides can get over the issue) it was about SOOOOOO much more than just that. It was about so many, many other rights than just that. It wasn't even just about women's rights. It was about everything that is good about humanity.
And that is why we had wanted to go.
THIS IS SO VERY TRUE
If you've never heard the Carly Simon song, you're missing out.
Listen to it here. I love that song. And I love this poster!!!
It was basically the 1972 version of today's Justin Bieber's Love Yourself.
This was my ABSOLUTE FAVE.
Shanna had sent photos and video already, but I was seeing it streaming live on television: I could see what she was seeing in person on stage. We were able to watch one of the speeches before we realized what time it was and scrambled to get ready to head for the gym.
The day was chilly, foggy and misting rain. I pulled up the news on the Women's March on my phone and read aloud to Carlos on the drive. I squeed in excitement when I stumbled upon this gem. <- That right there made it official: there were marches happening around the world in ALL SEVEN CONTINENTS.
This was our first time seeing Tony's new gym. It reminded me a lot of a Crossfit box and I loved it. We'll still be keeping our membership at our regular gym; we'll just be doing our personal training here, on a per-session basis.
|Photo from the internet of a Crossfit box. Tony's gym looks a lot like this. I'd say it's about this long and wide, too, with the Astroturf-like strip as well.|
We started out with one set of clean and press, followed by walking lunges down the length of the gym, where we then did a set of medicine ball slams, side-shuffled back across the gym to our respective barbells, and started the circuit again. No breaks.
Halfway through the second circuit, Tony shouts at me, "I don't hear your heart rate monitor beeping!"
"I'm at 155 bpm!" I snap back, "It's been at that since we started!"
Tony laughs. Evil, evil man.
Carlos did spectacularly throughout this. I loved this session because of getting to watch Carlos dominate a new-to-him exercise, the clean and press, and own it like he'd done it all his life. I was kicking myself afterwards for not snapping a photo, but that's what happens when your hands are also full of barbell.
We then moved on to other exercises, with long pauses for talking. It was just the three of us in the entire gym, so it should be no surprise that the conversation between the two Hispanics and the African American veered towards politics and the events happening on this day. It is also no surprise that what was supposed to be a half hour session extended to an hour because the conversation was just too good to stop. It is probably a good thing that we stopped to talk as much as we did, because I am STILL sore three days later, despite continued workouts in-between to try to flush the lactic acid out!
Carlos and I drove back home afterwards, where we showered and dressed up to go ride. Carlos put the March back up on the TV and we got sidetracked. We sat for another two hours listening to the speakers and watching the crowds with their signs, at peace. And I wished so much that we had gone.
"Why was it again that we didn't go?" I said to Carlos.
"Because of the crowds in the Metro. And if something catastrophic happens, only one of us has health insurance." The reasons as to why this is so at the moment are not blog material.
And then the reason seemed valid again.
I finally looked at the clock. It was 1:00 pm.
"If we're doing this, we should go now. The park closes at sundown," I said to Carlos.
"Where are we going?" He knew I wanted to haul out but we had been all over the place with deciding where to go.
"To the C&O at Point of Rocks." We had not been there since my accident in July.
"Yes. The weather is crappy and it is winter, so we should have it all to ourselves. And I want to haul ass." I wanted to set Lily free on that endless flat trail.
If I couldn't be brave by going to the Women's March, I was going to be brave by doing something else entirely.
The girls took off galloping around the field when they saw us pull up with the horse trailer, but very happily let Carlos catch them when they saw I was setting up warm mashes for them at the hitching post. They ate calmly while we loaded up the trailer with their tack, they happily loaded up and off we went.
It was a hideous day weather-wise, except for the fact that it wasn't actually raining. It had been misting rain on and off in the morning but that had stopped. It was still foggy, overcast, and chilly.
|Fog over the treeline on the other side of the Potomac.|
It wasn't until I went to tighten Lily's girth that I realized my hands were trembling and my heart was pounding hard at the base of my throat. Adrenaline. We were at the Point of Rocks parking lot instead of New Brunswick (we had parked at New Brunswick when the Potomac River tried to kill Lily and me) and the scenery was completely different in the wintertime, but it made no difference.
"My heart is racing," I said to Carlos with a sarcastic grin.
"That is to be expected," he said.
I was very careful to continue to breathe in a slow, controlled fashion around Lily, and once I was up in the saddle, the adrenaline vanished. It was just another day at the office for both of us.
The few hikers in the parking lot had been heading north on the C&O trail, so Carlos and I headed south to avoid the majority of people.
Going to Point of Rocks was the correct choice. We had a glorious ride. (And we didn't try to go into the water of the river at any point...lesson learned...)
The train went past us at the beginning of our ride, and the girls continued trotting on as if nothing was happening.
My goal was simple: ride out 5-6 miles depending on our time, and then turn around and come back to the trailer.
We trotted for the first two miles, then alternately cantered and trotted for the next four, slowing down to a walk when we would come upon people jogging or walking on trail, which were few and far between.
We turned around at mile six, which coincided with a concrete bridge over the Potomac River.
A man walking on the other side of the bridge commented about how nonchalant both horses were. "They're pros!" I said with a grin, as we trotted on.
Dusk was coming rapidly, but once pointed towards home, the girls picked up the pace significantly. We completed 8 miles in one hour! O_o They were happy to pick up the canter more often on the way back to the trailer.
Lily didn't do her all-day canter because she was super-looky on this particular ride, which she had not been in some time. I suspected that she was in heat with the warmer temps we have been having this past week, but she still did her best to oblige with my requests.
We had a BLAST regardless.
|Coming upon one of the many lockhouses.|
We untacked and loaded up the girls for the return trip home, where I continued reading Carlos updates on the march. Shanna finally had phone signal again (no one had signal during the march, something that the organizers had warned might be a possibility in advance) and texted as well.
Lily and Gracie had mashes once back at the barn while we unloaded the trailer, and were set free back out in their field.
It was a fantastic day on every level. On every.single.level. It was like the love that was felt at all of these marches around the world simultaneously had such a force that it permeated everything, even at a distance. Maybe it was because I was so hyper-aware of it, but I could feel it while we were out riding.
It was a welcome respite from the current constant fear of waking up every day to discover something else that has been deliberately changed in our world, another right that an establishment is trying to take away or something important that is now going to be demolished or destroyed.
It made me wish every day was like this past Saturday. Not at the personal level, but at the world-wide level. That is how the world should be. It should be about love bringing people together.
*Note: This has been a trend for the past few months but as of this year, I will officially be expanding the subjects I write about. The blog's title was chosen with that purpose, because "wait for the jump" applies to a whole bunch of other things in life other than just jumping. When I chose the title, I wanted to leave the door open for writing about things that are important to me, including but not exclusively limited to the horses.