The road to redemption is a long and slow process. To gain the trust I had broken in the mustang was hard won. The trust within me is something I fight daily. I had yet to name him, but Redemption was the name I had been looking for. Today would be my redemption, today would be his redemption as well. The nights were still long but now I focus on his training and not on the bottle or your memories. I am moving on in this world, a world full of light and resurrection, a world without you to drag me into the darkness.
I stood with him in the corral with a saddle laid at my feet. I had spent the last year working slowly towards this goal. His trust went only so far, but he was at least used to the sight and smell of the saddle. I had hung it over his stall door for months. It sat there and every time he would knock it off, I'd hang it back over the door. I walked slowly around the corral ignoring him. He did his best not to show interest in what I was doing. I would see him cut his eyes in my direction when he thought I wasn't looking. I wouldn't let him see my hands nor let my eyes meet his gaze.
My persistence finally got to him and he started following me. Around and around we went inside the small corral. I tightened the circles so we would finally stop in front of the saddle. He shook his head at me and pawed the hardened ground with his front hoof. He stood within inches of me, letting me stroke his forehead. I bent at the knees slowly picking up the saddle blanket, whispering to him the whole time, telling him I would not hurt him, that we would do this together. I rubbed the blanket on his neck and muscular shoulders, letting him sniff it and bite at it. I slowly moved it to his back, laying it across his broad back.
The saddle was next. He stood still as I picked it up and held it next to his nose. Again, he nibbled and sniffed it, shoving hard at it with his nose. I slowly moved to settle the saddle on top of the blanket. His ears twitched slightly but did not lay flat back on his head. I tightened the cinch under his belly and stepped away from him, once again ignoring him. As I walked away, I pulled a piece of hard candy out of my pocket. As I unwrapped the candy, I could feel his hot breath on my shoulder. We both had a weakness for the sugary sweet coffee candies. He forgot all about the saddle on his back as we walked in circles once more sharing the candy.
For several weeks, we had been doing the same routine everyday. Today was different. Today I would finally add weight to the saddle on his back. I stopped by the gate of the corral and picked up a gunnysack full of sand. Slowly slipping it over the saddle horn, I took another turn with him around the ring. I repeated this until he carried the exact amount of gunnysacks to equal my body weight. The technique was new to him, but he stuck it out like a trooper, never once bucking or rearing in the air. I spent a good half hour just walking and talking to him. The faster I walked, the faster he went. Even trotting around the corral, he didn't seem to mind the weight bouncing around on his back.
One by one, I removed the sacks as the sweat began to show on his silky coat. I knew he was tiring and soon I would have to once again put myself up on his back. His trust in me had been regained up to this point. The test of time and love would be when I mounted into the saddle.
I stopped him in the center of the tiny corral and talked to him as I slipped one boot into the stirrup. I lifted my body up part way to dangle across the saddle, letting him feel me move around. He side stepped some but never once made a move to hurt me. My ranch hands had gathered around the bars that held us in and not one of them spoke a word.
I slowly sat up in the saddle still talking to him and caressing his neck and shoulders. I gathered the ropes connected to his halter and tapped his sides with my boots. I could feel him bunch underneath me like he was going to try to buck me off. I continued to stroke his neck talking to him as he walked on tiptoes around and around the ring. I nudged him one more time. He picked up the pace and moved into a trot. My body moved with him in perfect harmony. He began to tire and I knew he had had enough for one day. We had been working for the last year towards this goal. Slowly, pulling on the rope connected to his halter, I brought him to a stop and let myself down from his back. He nudged the front pocket of my jeans looking for his reward, I laughed and pulled out a hard candy and gave it to him. While he chewed on it, I unsaddled him and brushed the sweat and dirt off his body.
I smiled at all that we had done; so simple a thing as to wear a saddle and to have someone climbed upon his back. We both knew the tragedy and heartbreak that it took for us to be where we were in this moment of time. Today had been a success. We both learned to trust one another. It was hard earned and not without a few tears and setbacks, but in the end, I opened my heart, as did he. Neither of us will ever forget the betrayal and pain we suffered because of it but the future holds so much more for us now. We both know that we are no longer alone and the bond we have will be unbroken during our lifetime. What more can I ask for an 8 Second Ride.
Moral of the story?once trust is broke it takes time and lots of healing before it can be gained back? So choose your words wisely and be honest with those you love.
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