It’s Sunday night, December 26, 2010, and Virginia received quite a load of snow today. I stayed home, snug and warm, and did some painting and baking. Someday I’d like to see Buckshot during snow, but I live too far from the boarding farm to go out and visit while it is snowing. I stay put (or go to work if it is a weekday) and go visit Buckshot after the roads are clear.
Yesterday was Christmas, so I stayed home and cooked in preparation for our family get together yesterday afternoon.
But Friday, Christmas Eve, I not only got to the barn, I got to ride Buckshot! I went to lunch with the BO and BOH, and afterwards, we all felt like a trail ride. The arena was still covered with snow and ice (from a previous snowstorm!) so we couldn’t do any riding in the arena. Instead we decided to go on the trail through the woods.
And I did so many things wrong! As I got Buckshot tacked up, I noticed that the last time I cleaned the saddle I had attached the cinch backwards. So the off side, in which the end of the cinch is supposed to tuck nicely into a keeper, had no keeper! The keeper was on the near side (where it wasn’t needed, of course). But since the others were waiting for me, I thought I’d just go with it. In the back of my mind, I thought, you shouldn’t ever cut corners on tack! You know that! Tack is critical! A few minutes won’t matter! But still I left it, and hoped that the end of the cinch wouldn’t hit Buckshot’s shoulder or leg.
Then I took him out to the mounting block and quickly tightened the cinch, but left it a bit untightened. He has long winter hair and I didn’t think he would sweat under the cinch, so I thought it would be okay.
After I got on Buckshot, I reached down to give him a post-mounting treat from the saddle, without a glove on, and my aim was off and somehow my fingers ended up in his mouth! Ouch! I pulled my fingers out and shook my hand. And the darn treat had fallen on the ground! But the others were headed to the woods so I got him walking. Darn, darn, darn. I know better than to feed him treats from the saddle without a glove on! I know it! But again, I hadn’t listened to what I know is right. I tugged my glove on, and flexed my hand and it felt a bit sore, but not too bad. (Later I went to take the ring off of that hand and it was bent into an oval! Buckshot had bit down on both sides and bent it! The more I thought about that, I think I was lucky the ring gave him some resistance – what if it hadn’t been on my finger! )
So we started off with me feeling a bit out of sorts about these events. We headed into the woods and the footing was great, nice and soft, no ice or snow, not even any muddy spots. As we approached the bridge (a short bridge over a small creek), I know I should have called out and volunteered to go first, since Buckshot crosses the bridge calmly and confidently. But I didn’t, and the BO’s horse acted up at the bridge. By acted up, I mean danced and then backed up. Right up to Buckshot and I. I didn’t know quite what to do, but I turned him into the brush and tried to stay out of the horses way. After a minute, she got her horse to walk over the bridge. At this point the BOH was in front of me, close to the bridge, and Buckshot and I were behind them. This horse also acted up and backed up quick and far. I wheeled Buckshot around fast to stay out of their way. So I offered to go before him and we did- clop, clop, clop ( a lovely sound when around bridges!:). The BOH and his horse followed calmly. (Note to self: when you think other horses in front of you will have problem with a bridge, back up and leave plenty of space in front of you- in case they fly backwards!)
The rest of the ride was calm and quiet; we enjoyed the comfortably cold temperatures and sunshine and quietness of the woods. I checked the tightness of his cinch a few times, and it wasn’t too loose. And I did look around for a stump for remounting in case I decided to get off and tighten the cinch. Overall, the cinch seemed okay to me, but in the back of my mind, I was concerned about it because I knew I hadn’t been as thorough about it as I should have been.
After we turned around and headed back to the barn. I called ahead and offered to go first across the bridge, and the BO agreed. So Buckshot and I led – clop, clop, clop and clop – and then the other two horses followed, calmly. Wonderful sound to hear their steady footfalls this time.
Even though I had taken some tack shortcuts I shouldn’t have, and didn’t follow what I know to be the right way to handle things, Buckshot was great and he did fine. (And I gave him extra treats after the ride to make up for the ones he lost.) As for me, I have promised myself (outloud) to Never, ever, ever give treats from the saddle without gloves, and Always, always, always get my tack correct before riding. It is far, far, far more important than making a riding partner wait another minute.
But it was a great ride, all things considered! I hadn’t ridden for a week, and as it turned out, it was the only ride we got to do all weekend!