Lily and I are on our journey together. Each time I go to the paddock she comes up to me. But she's used to a different rhythm in the stall. There the rhythm is to come in for grain, then head back out to the paddock for hay.
So it's different now, when I come in and grain her in the mornings. Now she's my horse to ride, to work with. I understand this is the transition we are in.
When she's been grained and expects to be turned back out, she walks to the gate at the far end, to go back to the paddock. I stand patiently on the other side of the stall, halter in my hand, waiting for her to understand.
It takes a few seconds. She turns around, sees me standing there. I cluck to her softly, she walks over and drops her head for the halter.
Friday I noticed something was different. Her eye. It was a little swollen and I felt the warmth. I washed it out and put in some ointment. When we were done, I stood in front of her, checking her face for a scratch or something that would show where this came from. She leaned in to me and rested her head on my chest. I gently rubbed the area, feeling the slight heat under my hands.
Lily has always taken well to doctoring (unless you try to put her foot in a bucket which is NOT ALLOWED).
She seemed otherwise in good spirits, so after a thorough brushing, we saddled up.
Stephanie was there to ride with us, which is good, since Lily is not great about solo riding, not yet. We rode out on the trails and both our horses were terrific, and we even galloped up some hills. Both our horses are ready for more conditioning and adventures, and we're anxious to get out and ride together now that I'm not limiting myself. And we both have a similar style to riding, we don't tear through the hills, but now I can finally canter for some time on a horse in whom I have total confidence.
So much so that I keep forgetting my helmet. It's amazing how much anxiety is unconscious (but yes, I'm still going to wear my helmet).
There are a few things I want to discover about working with Lily, now that I have time for her alone. I want to stop her walk off while mounting, which is good some days, bad others. I want to understand why she comes out of the trailer so quickly and see if I can help her through that fear. I want her to gain confidence in going out alone with me, at least around the close by trails.
I've got a new/used saddle coming in the mail since my saddle for her is just an old big horn and not suited to longer rides.
What I really need is to find her a fine riding halter. I have a lovely bridle for her, but she doesn't need a bit at all. I can gallop her, get her to confront things she'd rather avoid, all without a bit. So why bother?
And I don't really need a bitless bridle with the complex cross overs and pressure on the poll. She neck reins and stops with my seat and pressure. My long term goal is to ride her with a neck rope.
But for now my riding halter is just a rope (although a nicely done rope). I'd like something beautiful, leather, without the rubbing that comes from a bosal or the pressure from a hackamore.
Anyone have any suggestions?
I've followed up on Smokey and he is doing wonderfully in his new home. I'm fighting a little feeling of being a quitter lately, feeling a little like a loser. But when I was on a trip trying to find a home in DFW and the entire thing went to heck, I realized I have too much to try to accomplish in my life and that now is a time to simplify when and where I can. I need this simpler relationship, this finished horse that is willing and able, or I could get to the point I'd have felt so exhausted I'd have given up on horses altogether.
I miss my golden boy. I wonder if I'll always regret letting him go, not keeping him and sticking it out. But at the same time I know I wouldn't yyhave had that exhilaration of Friday's ride, of the gallop on Lily, riding like I did when I was a kid, with total abandon, feeling bullet proof and soaring.
Back at the barn I decided to teach Lily to lift her hoof, like I taught Smokey.
And you know what? She almost has it...