Monday, April 30, 2012

back in the saddle

After the chores were done, the goat milked, and the dogs walked I headed down to see Merlin 11 miles south of my farm at the opposite side of Cambridge. I gave him the day off yesterday (and myself) but wanted to return soon to go back into that scary outdoor arena and do some ground work and try out our brand new saddle. I was still in my work clothes (a sweater and a canvas kilt with brown suede lace-up boots) but that was okay. We were just going to groom and work on the ground. No riding tonight.

Anyway, the saddle! A reader from Kentucky named Natalie sent along a well-loved brown leather English saddle. It arrived today at my office and when I opened it up, Lord! It was the most beautiful thing in the world to me! It looked like old violins look, weathered and changed in all the handsome places. It was broken in and ready for a wide draft pony. Natalie had included a pair of black leathers and I ordered a set of stirrups, which were waiting for me at Riding Right from an online horse supply superstore, Smartpak.

Merlin was in his stall and I greeted him with cookies. We went out to the cross ties and I groomed him slowly, going over all the parts of his legs, belly, and feet. He seemed fine. After a good brushing I tacked him up in his new saddle and a borrowed girth and a woman tacking next to us showed me how to slide the irons into the stirrup leathers and attach them to the saddle. Within no time I had it all together and the bridle on.

We walked out the the arena with barely any fuss (nothing my crop couldn't nudge) and worked on a lunge line out in the same place chaos reined 48 hours earlier. I could tell he was nervous, but biddable. His eyes wide and ears back, but willing. He was being very brave in his pony way.

After he got a sweat going I called him to me and he walked forward, those heavy feathered feet and long bangs falling over the Celtic knot on his brow band. Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall. Right now we were on Spring, the first season of the four-part knot. We have three more to go before I feel I will really know this animal, and he'll know me.

After a few sweet words we walked calmly together around the arena. He seemed worried so I decided to act as if this was nothing to me, the gentlest place in the world. I sang to him an old Scottish song, I Will Go, and he seemed to perk at that. When all was right with the world we walked right back up the arena and I jumped right up on him for a short ride at a walk and trot.

And I did it in my suede lace-up boots and a kilt. Quite a scene in the dressage barn, this long-maned black hill pony and his owner in a green canvas quilt riding past the leg-wrapped riders in their breeches and mane-shaved warmbloods. I felt feral. I felt like me.

On the way out of the barn I picked up an entry form for the May 13th Dressage Schooling Show. Merlin and I might just enter the beginner class. What's the worst that could happen?

Oh, right...

Photo by you know who.
P.S. Sue Steeves, your violin was shipped this week, sorry for the delay!

6 Comments:

Blogger Sue Steeves said...

Good for you!!!!! No worries about the fiddle, I was not expecting you to have enough free time until after lambing season! I think you guys should most definitely enter the show. The great thing about dressage shows is you get a comments section of the scorecard where the judges usually provide some excellent feedback.

p.s. I found something that I think you can use with Merlin! Will send later this week ;)

April 30, 2012 at 9:38 PM  
Blogger Bethany Nash said...

"I Will Go" is a great song. :)

April 30, 2012 at 10:16 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth from the Berkshires said...

Is this the song?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMI7otICtZ0

May 1, 2012 at 7:29 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

yes! that man is good with a bodhran!

I love the scythian version!

May 1, 2012 at 7:34 AM  
Blogger daisy said...

Sounds like the perfect way to end a workday. Merlin is one lucky pony.

May 1, 2012 at 8:03 AM  
Blogger Rosie said...

Natalie was a wonderful thing to do. Bravo and bravo to you Jenna for getting back in the saddle!!!

May 2, 2012 at 6:26 PM  

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