I was determined to ride Finn today. And Hubby was encouraging me to have a ‘horse day’. He wants me to get back into the routine of riding more and working less…
You see, it has been really, really long since I’ve been in the rhythm of riding all the time. You know what I mean?
For example, previously, when I had a few hours to ride, I would seize the opportunity, grab my stuff, grab the first willing horse and be on my way.
Today, nothing I did was fast… it took me forever to get out of the house… I felt like I was going away for the weekend instead of just going on a ride. All of my gestures seemed vaguely familiar but not at all second nature. That upset me a bit…
RUNNING IN CIRCLES
First off, who shrunk all of my riding pants?
Do I have a top long enough to cover … everything?!
After my “I’m old and fat” tantrum, I proceeded to prep for the ride… But, I couldn’t remember my sequencing.
I’d run outside to check on one thing and then remember something inside…
I must have taken my boots on and off 50 times.
Silly girl. Fat and old silly girl.
(Can you tell that my birthday is coming up?)
Once I had my water and treats packed, half chaps in hand and extra layers… I ventured outside for good to get Finny.
There he was. Standing in the middle of BG and Wrigley. There was no way I was going to get him without the other two wanting to come, too.
How did I do this in the past? How did I get Finn so easily before? What trick am I forgetting?
I did remember that I had replaced the bent and malfunctioning gate, so I had that going for me… but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember my trick to grab Finn while distracting the others.
Finally Finn took it into his own hands. He chased the others away and then ran to the gate.
Finn: “OPEN IT, HUMAN! CAN’T YOU SEE THE END RUN I JUST DID FOR YOU?”
Finn: “Quick, Quickkk, QUICK!”
Finn: “What is the matter with you?!!?”
Me: I’m old and fat.
Finn: “You’re fat? Oh great. You want to ride me and you’re fat? Great. Now my day is ruined.”
Me: (sniff) I cannot remember how to do anything… I haven’t ridden in so long, it has taken me an hour to get ready.
Finn: “Oh Boo-Hoo. Snap out of it and give me a treat for saving you.”
Me: I forgot the treats.
Finn: “Oy. This is going to be a looong day.”
Finally, we were on our way to the big equestrian park.
I was all worried that my horse would arrive at the big equestrian riding park having not been properly groomed. Yes, embarrassing … but I thought that was better than not finding a place to park.
See, I had decided it was best to leave early before I had groomed him so that I could get a parking spot. After all, I could groom him in our nice parking spot… but if I didn’t find a spot, I’d have to turn around and come home – and groom him.
Holding my breath, I careening my eyes around the final corner to see…
…that there was not one trailer visible! Not one.
Wow. On a holiday weekend, there wasn’t one trailer in the parking area.
BUT, there were a zillion people with dogs, bikes, babies, strollers…. you name it, they had it – crammed into the smallish pedestrian parking lot.
When I pulled into the wedge these people had left for the horse trailers to venture through the sacred gates into the horse parking area, I felt like a guest of the band or something. As the horse gates opened, I saw a hundred faces peering at me, wishing they could, too, venture into the vast equestrian parking area…
I parked in my favorite spot. I took my time grooming Finn and he was very, very relaxed. Gone are the days where he would holler, prance and – my favorite – break his bridle whenever a motorcycle vroooomed by.
Today, Finn was rock solid in the parking lot.
In fact, he even let a little girl come up and pet him.
My boy had matured! And it only took 12 years…
Horses are such creatures of habit. So am I, come to think of it… I always park in the same spot. I always wear the same clothes and bring the same things to eat. And, I always ride the same trails when I am first out for the season. The easy, predictable trails.
So, we took off on the easy, predictable trails! Finn knew exactly where I usually mount, and he stopped there.
Finn: “Hey fatty, are you getting on?”
Me: Yes. Don’t call me ‘fattie’.
Finn (sniggering): “I didn’t. I called you ‘fatty’.”
As usual, Finn started his ride by stopping every 3 minutes and doing his ‘Stevie Wonder’ head bob, asking for a treat.
I thought about this and wondered why… why does he constantly stop at the beginning of our rides? And then it came to me.
First of all, let me say for the record, I will never, ever, ever treat train a horse. It becomes very annoying.
Here is what I mean… When I first start a ride, I talk a lot to my horse…
Me: Good Boy, you’re OK, that’s right, good, yup, to the right…
Finn: “She said, “Good Boy”, that means I get a TREAT!”
So, he stops to get his treat every time I say “Good Boy”.
I started singing instead.
I usually find myself singing, “Tonight” from West Side Story. Except I change all the words.
“Finnnn, My Finnnn, I love my Finnny Finnnn. Today we are ri-dinggg not in the riiiing…”
As long as I didn’t say, “Good Boy”, we were good to go.
INSECURITY SUPERIORITY COMPLEX
Finn is very dominant at home. But, bring him to a new place and he isn’t so sure…
We remedy his insecurity by me getting off if he needs me to lead. Usually, he will start to fret and then turn around to look right at me.
Finn: “Can you take this one? I’m a little nervous and you are so good at this sort of thing…”
Me: Ohhh, NOW you flatter me, eh? No more ‘Fatty’, eh horsey?
Finn: “Just get off and I’ll follow you with my head in your cushy back.”
Me: My back is not cushy.
My boy is such an odd duck.
He will freak a bit when he is on a trail and he cannot see around a corner… Yet, he looves to go off trail and seek new paths where no horse has gone before.
So, he is MR ADVENTURE on an unknown single track, but he blows a fuse on a regular trail that he has been on a hundred times. It is as if he knows the wide trails will have traffic whereas a single track will be all his.
And when it comes to potty time, he has to pull over and make sure that no one, not a single other person, horse, bike, rabbit, squirrel, bird, lizard, mouse, spider, ant or … rock – is watching.
BLACKBERRIES AND BUSHES
Once Finn knows something, he doesn’t forget it.
If he feels a branch brush against him. He will automatically stop.
Finn: “Are you gonna get that?”
He waits for me to get out my clippers to take down the offending branch.
This always amazes me… If there is a branch on his foot or if he sees a low hanging branch ahead, he will steer us right towards it, stop, and await the sound of me grabbing my clippers.
For some reason, this is very important to him.
And, if he sees a big blackberry patch, he will wade in and stop.
I’m supposed to then get off and feed the juicy fruit to him.
Except, he doesn’t understand the concept of seasons.
Today, he waded into a huge blackberry bush…
Finn: “OK, get off. I’d like some fruit.”
Me: There isn’t any.
Finn (turning around to glare at me): “Get OFF and please get me some of those juicy things!”
Me: Do you see any?
Finn (fidgeting): “What?”
Me: Do you SEE any?
Finn: “Uh. No.”
Me: There aren’t any yet.
Finn: “OK, I’ll stop at the next one and you can get off and get me some there.”
The best way I can describe riding with Finn is to compare him to anyone with ADHD.
He never stops thinking… and nothing stops him from thinking… he thinks about everything and anything all the time – for very brief moments.
Finn: “I see some dogs… hey is that a blackberry – Oh, I like this other trail much more can we go there – WHAT WAS THAT? – hey do you have any treats? – did you see that huge dog? something itches, can you get it? Can you get off and lead – I think I have a stone in my foot – NO WAIT, I HEAR SOMETHING…”
If I get off him to do anything, he will continuously nose me or fidget. I don’t know if he is nervous or excited The boy cannot stand still … unless he hears the zipper to my treat bag…
BACK TO THE TRAILER
We made it back safely and easily.
Finn walked directly up to his trailer and put his nose right on the leadrope attached to the trailer ring.
Finn: “See how smart I am? Do I get anything for being so perfect?”
Me: Sure, a big hug!
Finn: “OK. That will do for now – until you open the tack room door and I beg you for something savory.”
Me: Note to self: Never treat train a horse again.
And as we drove away, he reminded me of another aspect to our rides that I had forgotten… If I drive too fast, the bridles hanging in the tack room clang against the aluminum walls.
He hates that noise.
If they clang, he bangs.
Clang!! Clangity clang clannnnng.
…and shortly thereafter follows….
BANG! BANGITY BANG BANNNNNG!
Yup, I’m a bit rusty – but my horse remembers everything…
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!