Riding down the long stretch of white sand astride my beloved horse, Giselle, the day couldn’t have been more perfect. I was in my wedding dress. Long, layered, lovely white tulle skirt with a scalloped sweetheart neckline. Sleeveless, of course, for the 30 degree Celsius West Coast summer day. I could feel my Heavenly Father smiling at me from the brilliant sun in the clear blue sky. With Charlie waiting for me on his gelding, Aramis, my world was becoming perfect. Who was to know one year could make such a difference.
Hiking twelve months previously, a freak storm resulted in a 20 foot fall down a ragged cliff. I received multiple fractures in my left leg and arm. Thankfully, a mild concussion was the only head injury.
After a few days in the hospital and the rest of the summer in casts, I was relegated to physiotherapy for twelve consecutive weeks. Meanwhile, my 8 year old mare was being ridden and shown by my friend for the remainder of the Hunter Jumper season.
I’ll never forget the first day of physio. There he was. The torturer. He had no sympathy and pushed me beyond my level of pain tolerance. How I dreaded each visit. After two weeks of groaning, moaning, and screaming at him, I finally had enough.
“This will be my last visit,” I said determinedly.
“Oh,” was his reply. “According to my schedule, you have four more weeks of treatment.”
“Yeah, well, it’s my body and I feel fit enough to start riding again. That’s all I care about.” I wasn’t about to be persuaded. Not by his mesmerizing green eyes, nor by his Hugh Grant diffidence.
“That can’t be all you care about. I thought you were a teacher at Yara Christian School. Don’t you care about your students? God? Your future?”
“Of course I care about those things. It’s just that after the sessions here I’m too tired to go to the barn. I miss my horse. I miss riding. It’s my sport, my life, my passion.”
For the first time since meeting him I was in jeopardy of crying. I had endured excruciating pain at his expense. I wasn’t about to melt into a puddle of feminine weeping now.
“What barn do you board your horse at?” he asked.
“Green Meadows,” I said quietly, still avoiding the tears.
“For the remainder of your treatment how about if I meet you there?”
“Really? What do you mean?” I was caught completely off guard.
“I ride as well. My horse is only about 2 kilometres away at Cornerstone Stables.”
I had heard of Cornerstone Stables. It was a Three Day Event Barn - the Tri-athletes of the Equestrian world.
He continued, “I think I can come up with a physio routine for you to do on your horse. Will you commit to finishing your treatment?”
I agreed. It wasn’t easy and many times I begged him to meet back at the hospital. It was much harder work on my horse. After all, Giselle had a mind of her own. Slowly and surely I regained strength and endurance in my left leg and arm. Slowly and surely I fell completely in love with Charlie.
He wasn’t really a torturer after all. He was kind and compassionate, he just didn’t give in to my temper tantrums or let me give up. He challenged me to push beyond comfort, explaining that no muscle will become stronger without stress. Not our physical muscles and not our spiritual ones either.
He invited me to his church. It was different than what I was used to and it was a stretch at times to understand why they did things the way they did. But I learned to give a little and became richer for the experience.
As time went on our relationship also became stronger . It wasn’t long before we talked of marriage. After meeting with his pastor, we agreed to an eight week pre-marriage course. There were many stretching times. We discussed things I certainly would never have thought of. I didn’t realize marriage was going to be so much work. But now I feel fit. Fit to be tied for the rest of my life to one man.
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