Monday, March 14, 2016

Back in the Saddle

The weekend was warm and bright here, and exciting as well, thanks to the good work of getting a stubborn horse ready for regular riding again. I know Merlin better than most of my family members now. I understand every ear flick, snort, and head tilt. Friday we worked just with a flag and lunge line. He bucked and kicked and hated being told where to stand and step by the flag (a carriage whip with a plastic bag on the end that never actually touches him, but he can't stand the way I can't stand hearing a recording of another human being chewing a banana). He will do anything to avoid it, to move away from it. After weeks of not being ridden (being told where to put his feet) he was now being asked and it was the tantrum. I let him have it. After half an hour he was calm and doing what I asked but I wasn't about to get on his back.

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.


Blogger Unknown said...

Working through lunch at my desk, but still want a little peek at CAF to see what Jenna is up to....................thanks for your wonderfully descriptive blog!

March 14, 2016 at 1:05 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Would have sprayed nose milk about the banana if I'd been drinking.

March 14, 2016 at 5:36 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Good job getting Merlin to go just a short distance. He will know that he needs to listen to you, but that you won't push him too far.

March 14, 2016 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


I love the picture, so beautiful and free!!!!! Oh he is something, but than again, so are you.........You never give up no matter how exasperating it becomes, now
that is spirit!!!!!!!!!

March 15, 2016 at 10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your ride sounds wonderful. To many more:) It's nice to hear someone who listens to her horse and compromises when needed.

March 15, 2016 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger Antler Farms said...

Wow! Amazing post… I read you few other posts and they all are filled with great content. Thank you so much for sharing with us.


March 18, 2016 at 5:22 AM  

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