Back in the Saddle
But Saturday afternoon he was a different animal. Just fifteen minutes with the flag and I knew he was ready to ride. I saddled him up and we rode up the mountain trails for an hour, mostly walking, but trotting and cantering as well. He was out of shape and I could relate, having just got back into running. I had ran over 25 mile the past week. I knew he'd be sore the next day. (I sure as hell was after my first long run) But the ride was great and I got to feel the wind in my hair and the feel of him and explore the forest I missed so much. We crossed streams and ran up hillsides. We walked through the muddy trails and my hand brushed past the first buds on the trees as we trotted by. It felt correct and familiar and everything I ever wanted out of this short, manic, life.
Sunday was a different story.
Merlin was sore, I am sure. I wanted to ride again and he literally just stood there in the driveway, me on his back, refusing to move. We had a stellar groundwork session and all seemed fine to ride but he was not interested in a repeat performance. Goals change. I decided to cut him some slack and instead of making him ride with sore, 20-year-old horse muscles, to have him walk gently down the road to the pond and back, a half mile or so at most. The point wasn't to "win" but to compromise. To enjoy a ride, get what I ask for, and not frustrate or injure him this early in the season. We both have pounds to lose and bodies to condition into the beasts we will become by late May. So after some more work, he walked down the road.
It will be a process, getting back into the saddle. But I look forward to it, and on days like this where it is raining and chilly, and he is out on the hill rolling in the mud and we are looking forward to the next dry day - it is even a little thrilling. Adventures await, right outside my door. I could not ask for a better friend to share them with.