Friday, January 13, 2006

The Cow Jumped Over The Moon

I haven't ridden a horse in about a year and a half. This has made me very, very sad. Kali decided this needed to be remedied. So we got out her horse, Cookie (she didn't name him). He's a paint gelding that they just got this summer. He hasn't been out for most of the winter due to a lack of non-slippery place to ride. I was worried, because I'm a bit better, but still weak and I move slow. Quick reaction time is a really nice thing to have around horses, especially ones you don't know! But the drive to ride was stronger than any worries. We got him brushed and tacked up and led him out to the road, because the yard and fields were covered in ice, snow, mud, and puddles. Not prime (or safe!) riding conditions. The gravel road, however, was much better. It was awesome just brushing him. I didn't even realize quite how much I've missed working with horses.

Kali got on him first to work out some kinks. He was full of himself and ready to go, but seemed a bit nervous. I chalked it up to him being away from the other two horses in the herd. He kept trying to turn and go back to the barn, but Kali managed him pretty well. She got him going down the road away from the farm quite a ways. I stood on the road waiting for her to come back. I began to wonder if I was going to be able to control this horse. I knew I was weak, but not sure of how much, and didn't want to test it on an unruly horse. But things started looking up for Kali and Cookie seemed to tame down. I started looking at the cats and the trees and the fields. Rapid hoof beats brought me out of my zone. I turned and saw Cookie quickly cantering towards me. I was very curious why Kali had him going so fast. But they were too far away for me to say anything. Cookie finally got close enough for me to yell, but then I noticed that Kali wasn't in the saddle. Carp. I stopped watching Cookie for a second and saw Kali walking a ways behind him. Cookie cantered up to me and I caught him and walked him back to Kali. She said he'd spun around quickly and suddenly there was no horse under her. I've had that one happen to me before! I suggested we lunge him a bit to get some energy out and then get her back up in the saddle. So she grabbed the lunge line and whip and the fun began.

I assumed, because Cookie was fairly well trained, that he knew how to lunge. Wrong! So we had lunging 101. I spent about 45 minutes trying to get him to go in a circle and not either A) run away from me B) run into me C) spin around and tangle himself up in the lunge line. My arms are still sore. It was fun for Kali to watch, though. After awhile he seemed to get the picture, but it still wasn't what I'd call great lunging. (If my riding instructors had seen me, they probably would have died.) It was at this point I decided that maybe if Kali rode Cookie and I rode Silver (her younger sister's Welsh pony), that might help things. So Kali grabbed Silver and put a bridle on him. (The saddle is too small for posteriors such as mine, so it was bareback time.)

I've never been fond of ponies. I think they give people a false sense of security by being small. I know by nature they are more ornery and I've been spoiled enough to ride Arabs. I have ridden a couple of ponies. One was a Shetland who wrote the book on how to annoy a rider. Seriously, I've never had an animal try so hard to unseat me. (But he didn't!! Shazam!) The other was a Shetland/Morgan cross, so she was sweetly ornery, if that makes any sense. I don't really have a problem with ponies, I'd just rather ride a horse. But I knew Kali needed to get back up on Cookie and I didn't think I could handle him from up top and I looooove to ride bareback. The only problem is getting on. Back in the (healthy) day, I used to jump up on "my" horse bareback without much of problem. I figured I could do it with this pony. I tried four or five times to no avail. I finally asked Kali for a leg up and she let me put my muddy boot on her knee and jump. Unfortunately for me, I jumped with the same amount of force I'd being using before. I did something I had teased one of my fellow riders about relentlessly for months after she did it. With an, "Oh [edited]!" I went right over and landed on my face in the mud on the other side. I wasn't hurt. The ground was soft. My elbow actually went into the soft dirt about five inches. But I was covered in mud and dirt and Kali saw the whole thing. Needless to say she laughed at me. But the second try proved successful and I was riding tall. For a short while at least. Kali got on Cookie and things went okay, but I could tell that I wasn't nearly strong enough to control Silver and that I was fighting a losing battle. I ened up doing a emergency dismount and led him around for awhile so Kali and Cookie could work stuff out. Even though I didn't get to go for a big trail ride, it was still so much fun. I got to do the thing I love most in this life.


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