I haven’t been on a big hike since Lila died.

The trails are literally out my doorstep yet somehow without a dog at my side it feels empty.  Pointless.  Part of going out for the whole morning was because I knew she loved it.  It was different from our regular daily walks and that contrast made it special.

I thought about differences with Mr. First too.  We’re on a special routine for his rehab and I like to keep him wanting to come out to play.  Yesterday, instead of working in the arena, we spent the morning walking around the property.  It was going to be an adventure right at home.  I knew he was still unsure about some parts of the property.  Going in between trailers, approaching strange objects, construction sounds from the neighbors, were all potential triggers.

Yet the sun was out and I could feel he was up for the challenge.  Instead of seeing places and objects as potential threats, they became points of curiosity.

The minute we stepped out of his barn we were greeted by the owner’s young German Shepherd running in circles with a huge green ball in his mouth.  He swung it back and forth in abandon oblivious and unafraid of us.  In the past I would’ve read this as Trouble with all the ensuing emotions.  Mr. First wasn’t too sure what to make of it either.  His eyes were glued on the dog.

In that moment I smiled and thought let’s play.  I turned Mr. First towards the dog and circled around him.  My mind drifted to Portugal and now we were in the ring with the bull.  All of the Lusitano skills came out and we were dancing with the bull.  Soft quick steps amidst laughter.  Complete relaxation and Mr. First was loosening up and engaged.

Whoosh! As the ball flew up into the air our front feet left the ground into a beautiful Levade. 

Show over.  Applause.  The crowd went wild….

We bowed and continued around the property multiple times turning every obstacle into play.  The path by the stalls became our place for shoulder ins.  We tested our courage and trust going in-between the trailers.  One step at a time.  I was in no rush and gave him time to figure it out and find internal peace before moving on.

This ride was different.  He got his exercise, had to problem solve and was all done in Play.  Our relationship deepened.  It was one of the best rides to date.  Happy horse, happy me.

Now when I come across challenges I take this idea of differences into consideration.  Can I look at this situation differently and do something of contrast?  Serious into play.  Tight into loose.  Dark into light.  Small to large.  The possibilities are endless.  Here are some art collages to remind me visually.

To quote Dr. Seuss:

You’re off to Great Places!  Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting.  So…get on your way!