Rarer still is the musician who has personally ridden and knows horses well enough to truly understand and appreciate what it really feels like to ride, care for and love horses.
All of the songs are wonderful in their own way, but the one that immediately struck a strong chord for me was Emily Flies. Let me show you why.
And when Emily’s lifted up into the saddle
she gets this look on her face
Sal thinks it might be joy
or at least some kind of grace
And she could swear as she leads them round
when she looks at Emily’s eyes
that though Cody may be only walking,
steadily, patiently walking,
Cody may be only walking,
but Emily flies
The song is about how horse riding brings a sense of freedom to a 14-year-old girl named Emily. It is also about a Standardbred horse named Cody, who is being used as a therapeutic riding horse. This is where I have my own personal connection to the song.
My very own Standardbred mare, Kayla, now 31 years old, once tried her hoof at being a therapeutic riding horse.
Although she did possess the calm, steady characteristics that Cody in the song displays, her one downfall as a therapeutic riding horse was that she walked too fast! The riders didn't have a concern about Kayla's speed, but a rider needed a side walker on each side of the horse, and a person who led the horse around. As it so happened, my Kayla was a speedy walker (which made her an ideal endurance horse but that is another story). In fact, she was so speedy that she was soon retired from being a therapeutic horse because the side walkers would end up being too tired by the end of the half-hour! (True story!)
My however brief brush with therapeutic riding was enough to encourage me to volunteer at a therapeutic riding center for some time, and then to follow the paraequestrian events locally and internationally.
If you listen to Emily Flies, you might be moved to tears like I was, mostly thanks to how truthfully the lyrics portray Emily's experience and Cody's unswerving dependability. We all know how it feels to be lucky enough to "fly" on the back of a horse. It's even more significant from Emily's perspective.
But after I listened to Emily Flies, I found so much more to relate to on the other songs.
Several songs are dedicated to specific horse breeds: the Newfoundland Pony, the Quarter Horse, the Draft horse and the Canadian. Each song has its own musicality and instrumentation that relates to the characteristics of the breed. Not only do you learn all about the breed's attributes, but you also become privy to what makes each type of horse unique.
Two White Horses reminds me of two white horses that I drive by every day going to work. Complete look-alikes, they wander around their paddock side by side, leisurely munching on hay and grass. There is a sense of comfort and calm each time I spot them as I drive around the corner.
Flying Changes reminds me of one of my all-time favorite horses, a 17.2h Percheron-Andalusian cross that I had the pleasure to train for some time. Although he was entirely "too much horse" for me, I will always remember his long-strided rolling trot that taught me how to truly sit deep in the saddle (and he DID learn to do flying changes).
In Hoofbeats, Marie-Lynn Hammond has assembled twelve stirring songs that delight, educate, entertain and celebrate the horse. Check it out for yourself, and let us know what you think in the comments below!
Here are three complete tracks for your listening pleasure:
Purchase the CD here: http://marielynnhammond.com/music/purchase/
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Here are more articles, just for fun!
Living in Flying Changes: I wrote this short poem after a wonderfully exhilarating night ride.
10 Ways on How NOT to Buy Your Dream Horse! Tongue-in-cheek and just for fun! Helping future horse owners the world over!
Horseback Riders Do Nothing Anyway! Well, at least, that’s what “they” say. But we know differently, don’t we?
A Song and My Very Own Chestnut Mare: You will find me bristling at the suggestion that chestnut mares are unworthy.
Because of Horses: What has changed in your life because of horses?