Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Farriers & Saddles

Dave—my farrier and the horseman I respect above all others—came yesterday to check in with Merlin. He trimmed up his hooves in the driveway,  checked over his body condition, and smiled at the growing piles of shed mastodon fur raining around him as he worked. I guess farriers are used to turning into the color of the spring horses they are working on?  It was a fine visit and like every time he comes to Cold Antler, I feel lucky to have met the man. He is the reason I have the confidence to ride a half ton of draft horse into the woods alone. He is the reason I know how to take control of a nervous horse. He's my Equine Sage. I can not say enough good things about the man, or about mentors in general. You want to get into horses? Find someone who does what you want to do with them, shut up, and listen. That's been my plan and it's been a godsend!

I talked to him about his opinion on worming (which I do in the fall and spring) and about how often he takes his favorite mare out for a ride. He's an archer as well, so we talk bows and practice ranges and he gets to brag on his granddaughters. Smiles all around, guys. He was happy to Merlin a little chunky coming out of winter but not hay bloated and languid. He checked him over and told me I had one fine horse. My knees gave out a little. I mean,  a lot of people have nice things to say about the beast but when Dave tells me my horse is dapper, I glow. After the hoof work was done he took Merlin out into the road to show me some new training techniques. He is a magician with this horse, understanding horses in ways that will take me decades in the saddle. When all was done I had a well behaved gentleman at the end of my lead rope. I thanked Dave, wrote out the check, and told him he didn't charge enough. He smiled and thanked me.

Since Merlin was out of his paddock, all trimmed up and brushed out, I got my saddle and tacked him up. I had not ridden him since December and missed it all over. I missed it with my head, heart, and body. We only walked, trotted, and cantered on the paved road outside my house but just learning my seat again, feeling the communication in leg and hand, and hugging his sides felt as wonderful as this spring's rain.

Today I took Merlin out again for a ride and we went a little farther. We full out galloped for a little and I got to feel the way wind feels seven feet in the air again. What a rush. I can't believe I waited until I was 30 to own that feeling.

Anyone else out there getting back into spring riding? Maybe some of you are lucky enough not to live on an ice covered mountain! If so, tell me about your steeds and trails!


Blogger Christine Marble said...

Hi Jenna,
Hi Jeanna - great post. Hope to be taking a fine equine for trail rides in my woods someday... You're living the dream!

On an unrelated matter: not sure if you read a magazine called "Taproot"? There was an article about raising chickens and they mentioned your name and your book, "Chick Days" as a source - thought you'd like to know :)

March 25, 2015 at 6:06 PM  
Blogger Nikoletje said...

I just hopped back on my horse for the first time since January but here in Tasmania (Australia) it is autumn not spring. Like you I waited til later in life to start riding (37) but my journey is slower and I am still getting used to the saddle. My girl is a gorgeous black 15h standardbred called Witch - willing & strong but also quite uncoordinated & prone to pace. A bit like me really! As I brace myself for managing my 38acre farm solo (my daughter is not far off leaving home) I have discovered your blogs & vlogs. There are many parallels in our worlds (horses, border collies, growing food & aiming for increasing self reliance) except I am in the deep south of the Southern Hemisphere rather than in the north of the Northern Hemisphere. We go for little trail rides up our valley but mostly need to float our horses to find decent bush trails. Anyway, you are an inspiration! Keep being you & living your dream. PS I'd love to know more about how you manage grazing & animal poo! Do you rotate? Harrow? I only have 3 horses on 6 acres of pasture & spend an awful lot of time slashing, harrowing & picking up poo to keep horses & paddocks healthy.

March 25, 2015 at 6:25 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hi Jenna.
Went for my first ride since January today-it was great! We still have a lot of snow on the ground here in Maine-so the ride was just a few turns around the pasture-but it was AWESOME. Started ground work this week as well.

March 25, 2015 at 8:36 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Hi Jenna, Wow, you are so lucky to have a great farrier! I have found it very difficult to find and keep a good farrier. My best guy moved to Oklahoma, and I never had a good one for long after that. I don't own a horse at this time, but I have all my tack and "stuff" should I decide to own another horse, or borrow one. Take care, and keep on riding.

March 25, 2015 at 10:19 PM  
Blogger D Pontia said...

Spent all winter driving a pony up and down the short dark narrow aisles in the barn at pre-dawn light, snow piled up to the windows. Now, for the first time, he it hitched, trotting down the wide open road! Talk about being happy with glee with all the possibilities this spring! It's good to get out!

March 26, 2015 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger The Kelly's Adventures in KY said...

So beautiful!!

We just got back on our horse this weekend as well. There were three days of good weather, and the ground was not a sloppy mess. It is hard to describe, but being back in the saddle again, you realized how wound up and empty feeling you were at the same time after such a long period of not exploring the world from the back of your horse. Life is so much better with them traveling along side us.

Hope you and Merlin have many excellent rides this season!

March 26, 2015 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Betsy Earley said...

Have been getting on my mare Cricket during the past couple of weeks. We ride English (hunters) and am getting ready for a few small shows. She is generally pretty good, but is prone to bucking now and then to protest getting back to work, then she never bucks at all. She can buck pretty good for a little lady; she's 15hh, quarterhorse cross. I am 50 years old and she is my first horse. She was very green when I first got her, didn't have a steering wheel and didn't even know how to canter with a rider, now we jump courses. :)

March 26, 2015 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Montero said...

I'm riding out again on Kitty my 17 yr old Gypsy Vanner Cob after a long, busy winter. We're purely fair weather riders but have been out 3-4 times a week now that spring is here. Have to squeeze it in between lambing!

March 28, 2015 at 11:41 AM  

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