This sound greets me as I round the corner; I know instantly who it is. I walk to her and demand a kiss. She swings her nose out the door and touches it to my cheek. I taught her this a few years ago, back when I still knew the location of the trickonometry book. Everything gets misplaced here.
"No, no cookies for you, big brat. You choked this morning."
I turn, walking out the back door to get my old girl. I glance back at the sound of Tammy's hoof raking against the stall door. She nods her head at me and blows, indignant and annoyed. Her blue eyes are wide; with her bald face and "eyeliner" markings, she looks startled. She's beautiful. I turn and walk out the door. Her nostrils flare and she snorts, then hollers, this time. I roll my eyes and swing my rope halter behind me as a gesture.
I shut the back gate when I see the pasture horses are out, and I pick my way across the yard to Skip's pen.
I don't see her until I walk around the side of the decrepit round pen that makes up a side of her enclosure. She picks her head up a few inches from the ground and stares at me. Today she lets me catch her; usually, one of her favorite games is to snort and trot to another corner of her pen when I get within touching distance. I put her halter on and we walk out. she nods her head three times at me, and as I turn to shut her gate, she thrusts her head into the lush spring grass that she couldn't reach from her paddock. I grunt and jerk her head, and she bows up with a jiggy trot beside me as we walk to the barn. She's twenty six, and she doesn't know it.
Susan pulls up as I'm tacking up. Tonya and her son are sitting in the entrance, so she pulls up a chair with them.
"She looks slick from here!"
"I've been scraping off pounds of hair every time I've came out lately, but she still has a way to go," I say as I fight with my bridle. Someone "borrowed" it and partially disassembled it. I put it on my horse, check my phone for the time (6:45) , and swing my leg over, surprised that she's standing for all this without much fuss. I walk out the front.
"Ooh, pretty!" susan says.
"watch out!" I say in the narrow entrance. "hopefully she won't jump on top of you, that won't be pretty!" I say as I navigate between the row of chairs and two barn cats.
"I'll beat her shiny butt! Look, Track and Oscar didn't budge." I laugh at Susan and the dozing barn cats.
I make it onto the training track. I love the track. Three nestled ovals; the outer oval is a dirt track, the next oval is a turf track, and the innermost is speckled with trees and partially used as a hayfield.
I start on the dirt track, and the soft dirt swirls up and around us. It needs to rain. she picks up a brisk, jiggy trot. I keep contact on her mouth to keep her speed in check. She ruts her nose against it a few times and I give her a growl.
She flicks an ear back but stops the motion, and thrusts her head down to cough. My reins are short purple game reins with a bunch of knots, so I lean up to give her some head room. A half of the way around the track, she kicks it up into a lope. I lope the corner and pull her back down to a fast trot. We make it back past the barn and she surges again. I giggle, turn back, and shout to the group, "she wants to go today!"
We pass the opening and I cut off onto the turf track. My hair flops in my face and I'm longing for a bobby pin. She breaks back into a lope and this time, I let her get away with it for a stretch. I pull her down on the second straightaway. We trot it, and this time it's slow enough for me to sit. Her neck is a little damp but she isn't breathing hard. we pass the openings again, and I put my right leg on her. I check her over the low ditch so she doesn't try to hop it, and we ride to the inner field.
I switch my leg and we follow along the fence line, counter clockwise. Where the line of tree-shade ends, I drop my reins and we lope down the field. Reaching the end, I switch my leg pressure and we lope along a concave arc of uncut grass. Again, we serpentine and head in the direction of the entrance. I put my outer leg on her, flick my wrist, and we lope a circle just ahead of the tree area. We back down into a walk for her to catch her breath and air out, and I look around. Everything looks so glowing and golden outside from the sun going down, and the grass is emerald green.
I pick up a lope again on the shaded side of the field. Leg and a lean, different direction. Other leg, we switch again. She's the most responsive horse I've ever ridden regularly. I bump her mouth again and we settle to a trot, exiting the middle and back onto the dirt track.
We turn left and I slow her to a walk. She's calmer now and doesn't speed up when I release contact. I let go of the reins and put my hands on my head, and then my hips. We reach the exit in front of our barn. I don't use it and she flicks an ear back at me and jigs back to a trot. I mumble an "Agh! Quit!" Tonya sees and giggles.
I almost always take the side exit to get off of the track. there is a wide path I use to go back to the barn; it used to be a road, but now Stable drive dead-ends at our place and the road is overgrown with thick grass. Some thoroughbred youngsters pick their heads up at me and come over to the fence. Two greys and a blazed face bay. Skippy flicks one ear, then the other back towards me. She doesn't play well with others. we turn and follow the path to the barn, passing by the training gates and some ancient farm equipment. I look to my left to view the neighbor's vast pastureland. They show western pleasure, and their herd is on the other side of their pond, grazing. The members of the group are fat, sleek, and a myriad of colors. Tobiano, two palominos, some bays and sorrels, and even a funny looking, chunky little appaloosa. The trees around the pond frames the scene, while the sun casts the perfect glow for the ending to a perfect ride. My geriatric spunky mare had minimal fuss, and it's the first ride I can remember from her without any bucking.
I ride up the gravel road to the barn entrance. the three are still sitting there.
"How'd she do?"
"Perfect! I was expecting a little more attitude than what she gave me. It was very nice!" I say as I slide off. I take her bridle off, loosen her girth, then lead her over to a patch of grass with her tie-down/noseband. I check my phone. It's 7:30.
"She probably was just glad to get out." Susan replies.
"Yeah." I ruffle the hair on the back of my head. "me and her both."
2 weeks ago