It was Saturday evening. Feeding time. At the main barn, which houses eight horses, two stalls were filled. Two elderly Arab wonders were in, having been fed half of their dinners a while ago. They waited for the rest of their dinners, keenly aware as the BO and I entered the barn. They started nickering, anticipating their feed. I grabbed their feed scoops and headed to their stalls. The first one, an elderly school master, nickered as I went into his stall and dumped his feed into his bucket. As I headed next door to his companion’s stall, Countess, a lovely gray Arab mare, nickered, and added a lovely melodic song to her nickering! It was beautiful- a nicker that stretched out, higher pitch, with a sing-songey voice to it! She was singing! Amazed, I gave her her feed and praised her singing! The BO mentioned that she had sung to me! Awesome- I’ve never heard a horse sing before. But this was definitely much more than nickering and not at all like a whinny. What an amazing thing to hear!! Did you know that horses can sing?
To back up a little, I took Friday off of work and went to the barn. The weather was perfect – in the 50’s, sunny with a clear blue sky. I got Buckshot from his pasture and groomed him, with his shedding winter hair swirling around me, sticking to me, going into my mouth and nose, trying to get the hair off of him and not wear all of it on me!! We headed to the main arena and did our walking warm up, doing lots of circles, spirals, and curvy lines, as a change of pace from warming up on the rail. We did some nice trotting and cantering, and then, I headed us down the road, to go to the other arena.
Buckshot started off strong and purposeful, then developed some uncertainty. I squeezed him, said “Walk on” and occasionally tapped his shoulder with a crop. We walked a few steps, then he slowed. We walked a few more steps, then he slowed. I was determined we would get to the arena and enjoy it on such a perfect day. But it might take some creativity on my part. So we slowwwwly walked down the road. I then dismounted and led him on foot. Again, he walked a few steps and then slowed. Then his legs planted. He didn’t do any other behaviors, just stood still until I coaxed him or praised him or begged him to move forward. At one point, his legs planted, I had an epiphany. If what I’m doing isn’t working – going forward – try something else. So I started leading him in an S-shape and his feet instantly became unstuck! We got to a barn that had a mounting block in it, so I mounted him, and headed him toward the arena. Oh, no, he said, we should go back. Smiling inside, I made him go in the direction I wanted. He twisted and turned, but after a mild argument, would follow my direction. We walked over some mighty nice grasses and he wanted to sample them. I didn’t let him, but made a mental note to stop there on our way back. A few more minutes and we arrived, finally, at the arena!
We started riding and had a wonderful time! Buckshot had great energy, and we even cantered longer than ever before. We did two whole turns around the large arena, with a good pace throughout! I was ecstatic! When we walked back, I was delighted to let him stop at the sweet grass and eat! I’m not sure why some days our cantering is wonderful and other days it isn’t, but this was a really great time. I was very proud of Buckshot.
On Saturday, Buckshot and I rode in the afternoon class, with four other horses and riders. We had a good time- nice weather and good footing. And on Sunday, after Easter breakfast, Buckshot and I had a nice long, two hour ride. We rode in the arena, and after other riders joined us, went through the woods to the field arena, rode there for a long time, and then returning home through the pleasant springtime woods. Even though my legs were sore, it was a nice ride and I had a great time with Buckshot. I hope you had a nice Easter weekend as well with your horses.
I’ve started reading National Velvet, which I picked up as a used book for sale at our public library. How cute it is that she (Velvet, the main character) had paper horses, that she took out “riding” and would bring home and rub them down after she rode them! What a sweet, smart girl – to make sure she brushed her horses after she rode them, even if they were paper horses!
Her innocence and caring remind me that I should never forget how majestic horses are, and how much a gift it is for me to have one in my life, and how wonderful Buckshot is, and never to forget the joy and wonder of riding horses, and the marvel to know them personally and to get to know a horse over time and love him and trust him, and have him trust me. Really, horses are an amazing gift to us. And now I’ve heard one that sings!