Saturday Buckshot and I had a good time. It was a coolish, humid day, with low, thick clouds. Weird early autumn weather. I got Buckshot groomed and tacked up, and we headed into the arena, where I closed the gate after we were inside. I walked him around in hand, stopped him, stood in front of him to check the position of the saddle, tugged on it a little, tightened the cinch, and mounted. We did our warm up twenty minutes, and started trotting. His energy level was moderate. We did a little cantering but not much. I wondered if my closing the gate tamped down his energy – no way for him to get to trot or canter right out of the arena, which I think he likes to do. The BO came into the arena on one of her horses and we rode for a while, then she opened the gate and we rode into the woods. It was nice on the trail – more autumn cooler temperatures, and leaves underfoot but not so crackly that you can’t talk. When we got to the end of the trail, and went into a big hay field, we trotted along the perimeter. We made our way to the other arena, and did some work there. And then headed down the farm road, back to the barn, and ended our ride. Nothing spectacular, but a nice ride on a nice day. On a wonderful horse!
After I untacked Buckshot, I could see that he wasn’t sweaty so didn’t need a shower. We started walking back to his pasture, and he walked me straight to the wash stall. I let him sniff the bucket that hangs on the wall, usually with a bit of grain in it for the washed horse to nibble on. He didn’t like that the bucket was empty nor that I wasn’t tying him up. I walked him out to the grass and stopped, saying, would you like to eat grass? But he had other things on his mind, so he walked me again into the wash stall! He is so funny! He would be glad to be rinsed off so he could have some grain!! Why didn’t I realize that?? But instead I headed him back out of the stall and to the grass. And he stopped, dead in his tracks. No, no shower today, Buckshot, I explained. And touched my shirt. And then he started walking. Because he knew the next secret was in my shirt.
A bit of background here. Last spring, I decided to buy some short sleeved blouses to wear at the barn during the summer, hoping they would be cooler than t shirts or polo shirts during the hot, humid summer. I looked at REI (an outdoor gear store) and found what is called a safari shirt, made of lightweight fabric that dries easily and is hand washable. I bought several of them. An interesting feature of them is that they have secret pockets – pockets that have zipper closings that you can’t see. I have been sticking breakfast bars in these secret pockets when I untack Buckshot, and when I walk him back to his pasture, I am usually famished and tired, so I stop and unzip the pocket, take out the bar, open it up and eat it. Well, after the first time, Buckshot sniffed it, and said he wanted a bite. So I would then alternate, bite for me, tear off bite for Buckshot, bite for me, etc. He loved them. Eventually I was putting two bars in my secret pocket. So now, Buckshot eyes me carefully when we are walking back to his pasture, since he knows the breakfast bars are coming. I will touch my shirt and he can hear the wrapper crackling inside and he knows a yummy treat is coming. Isn’t he funny? It’s the only thing we eat that we literally share, and it is sort of a warm, cozy moment when I share the breakfast bars with my horse. I hadn’t mentioned it to anyone lest they think me odd or a little crazy. But a special horse like Buckshot does that to you – tugs at your heart in certain small, intimate moments that you share, making wonderful little memories with them, such a sweet thing. I love those moments with Buckshot. (And by the way, safari shirts are great! I love them.)
On Sunday, the weather was nice again, a pretty blue sky and temperatures a little on the warm side. When I got to Buckshot’s pasture he was eating hay in his stall. So I took a training stick over to the persimmon tree in his pasture and whacking the branches, made some of the fruit fall to the ground. Buckshot and some of the horses in the adjacent pasture love to eat the persimmons. But they fall to the ground rather slowly, so I thought I’d speed things up and get some of the fruit down myself. I left some of the persimmons under the tree for him to find later, and I took a few over to him in the stall. Later, when we rode, Buckshot and the other horses were all in a low energy, isn’t-this-a-nap-day kind of mood. We did a little trotting, no cantering and a lot of trail riding. It was a lovely, slow motion kind of day.
Buckshot got a West Nile 5 way vaccine booster a few weeks ago. The vets here recommended one this year due to the danger of West Nile transmission. A horse in Virginia contracted West Nile recently and had to be put down. The horse hadn’t had a vaccine in three years. I’m sorry about him. But I’m glad Buckshot got his booster. I know it’s not a complete guarantee but it gives me piece of mind.
Hope you are enjoying cooler weather and nice rides as well!