Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The World Turned Right-Way-Round

Yesterday I rode my daughter's horse instead of my own. It did not go well. It did not go disastrously--my daughter's horse is well-trained and in general an amiable if excitable guy--but Mickey was angry that it was me, not my daughter, riding him, and also had I noticed that she seemed to have disappeared? Where was she? Did she not love him anymore? He hoped I wasn't getting any idea that I might be HIS horse, because no. Just no.

I was only riding him in the first place because he's getting on a trailer Thursday morning to go join my daughter at college, and it seemed reasonable to be sure he in good shape for the trip.

Meanwhile, Sarah, my mare, and Gully, my old gelding, were both annoyed that I was riding someone other than them. Gully has a new person--I'll tell that story soon--but she wasn't present and Gully would like some attention, too.

Sarah sulked. She's large and sulks exceptionally well. They all three went back out to the field in bad moods, and Gully--it had to be him, Sarah wears a grazing muzzle--bit Mickey on the ass.

Today was different.

First thing, of course, I gave the Ancient Toothless pony his afternoon soup. He's recently gotten to the point where he can't even manage soaked chopped hay, but he dives into a soup of pelleted feed with such enthusiasm I figure he'll live another decade, just to spite me. Then I fed everyone else. Then I attempted to scrape some of the hundreds of bot fly eggs Mickey's managed to pick up since Saturday off his hide, but he hates the bot-fly knife even when it's wielded by my daughter. He didn't bite me, but he made faces at me with his teeth exposed, to tell me that he would certainly bite me if he weren't so extraordinarily well-behaved. He also danced around me in circles. I gave it up. He'll arrive at a fancy event barn in eastern Pennsylvania covered in bot fly eggs. It won't be any worse than the time he arrived at the U.S. Eventing national barn with his winter coat half-clipped, in patches.

Then I took Sarah out of her stall. Her expression went from petulant to bliss. I brushed her, and she got happier still--all relaxed and cuddly. Gully, meanwhile, had gotten ridden by his new person earlier in the day, and he was content.

I saddled Sarah and we went for a long hack on the farm. The hay fields have just been cut; we rode through them, admiring the view. The heat's finally down a bit, and the humidity is gone; the mountains are dark green and blue beneath a pale blue sky. We went out to the seven-acre field for a good trot, and I could tell Sarah felt the change in the weather. She stepped right into her foxhunting trot, a long, loose, swinging stride she can maintain for miles. Sarah loves riding to hounds, and she's right, the season has started. We'll probably hunt for the first time this Monday. I had no way to tell her that, of course, but she'll know soon enough.

We made loops of the field until I thought my ankles were bleeding. I'm breaking in a new pair of riding boots, the first in eight years. People all told me that boots were more comfortable these days but it's bunk.

I pulled Sarah back to a walk. We said hello to the neighbor's goats, then went out to the jump field. Sarah was keen, so I let her gallop a couple of laps of the jump field and then one more lap of the seven-acre field. When I pulled her up she was hardly blowing. She'd have been glad for more.

Back at the barn the old pony had finished his soup. I rinsed Sarah, cleaned the old pony's stall, and let the riding horses back out to pasture. Mickey stood, wanting my attention. He's a very communicative horse; he generally has a lot to say, and he tries hard to talk to humans when something is upsetting him. Now he looked at me earnestly, eye to eye, widening his eyes a bit and leaning forward.

Where is she? Why isn't she here?

It's okay, I tell him. She misses you as much as you miss her. You'll see her Thursday.

But I didn't have a way to explain it. I scratched his neck, and he sighed and stepped past me into the field. Where Gully tried to bite his butt again, just on principle.