Dreams in Sweaters

I had a dream a few nights ago. In the small amount of time I got good, actual sleep, it slammed into me. It was so vivid, I woke up shaking.

When I finally realized it was a dream, the image was still there, a mist in the air in front of me, and in the quiet of night I let it linger as I pulled myself groggily from the grip.

I had been galloping. I could feel the wide, pebbled reins in the dark, I uncurled my hands to touch my palms where the edge of the rubber would be, crossed over, rubbing the callouses. I could smell the oiled leather, I could hear the rhythmic snorting. I could taste the grit of the track in my mouth. I could almost sense the bunched muscle of horse stretching out to fluid in an explosive instant of sheer power. Even awake, the other half of myself was still there, somewhere, perched solidly and holding the entire production together.

Of course, not really, because I was not at a farm, in the sunshine, on the back of a horse. I was in the city, at 3 am, in bed.

I stared at the dimly lit ceiling, my heart beating a mile a minute. I haven’t had that dream in a long time. At various points post-racehorse life, it was a regular occurrence, my spirit still unable to let go of the hardest and most rewarding job I ever dove into (before I had children).

I used to have this dream when I was restless. I used to have this dream when I was sad. But I am not any of those things right now. It may stem from the fact I was watching GoPro videos of racehorses breezing, and a special video of American Pharoah right before the the Travers Stakes. I found and was entranced by a really cool video of Ingrid Klimke at Aachen, I think, going cross-country. Goosebumps and respect when I finished watching that video.

My brain doing a dump, so to speak, relating it back to my experiences, tucked away in the recesses of my memory.

As I think on it now, a few days later, I am reminded of how much fun Fall is with horses, and how much I loved galloping this time of year. This time of year the bugs leave, and the riding is less sweaty. The majority of the August heat dissipates to crisp headwinds, and fresh horses. As the alter-ego to Spring legging-up once the mud dries, Fall is the perfect time to take your horses down a peg, get them ready to rough off for the winter, scale back the intense schooling, and hack out more often.

Maybe that’s where my head is at right now, hence the dream. Fall is around the corner, my kids are about to go back to school, and I am anticipating sweaters, and fall leaves dancing in the wind. It reminded me so much of how I loved flying through harvested corn and wheat fields, skirting the edge of a well-mown hay field, or even up the side of a county road, the shoulder providing enough softness to let loose for a quarter mile, the speckled shade multi-coloured with fallen leaves.

Fall was also a countdown on the thoroughbred farms, because soon the track would be covered in snow and we would be doing endless circles in an arena, on the horses going south for early meets.

I used to hate that dream, because it was a reminder of everything I had once lived for, missed terribly, and could likely never go back to. I don’t hate it now. Not even a bit. I am relieved my body still remembers what it felt like. It is permanently part of me, for which I am grateful.

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