Thursday, April 11, 2013

Happy trails

Spring has sprung here in Central Virginia, and just like winter hanging on with a vengeance, spring has apparently decided to ramp right up into summer this year. It was 90 degrees yesterday. Two weeks ago, it snowed.

Today was glorious, though. Seventy-five degrees, slightly breezy, and totally and completely sunny. I wore shorts and flip flops out to the barn, which I almost never do, and reveled in being in the sun without five layers of clothing and my big winter coat. This past winter, I definitely felt the cold more than I usually do, and so I was determined to soak up as much sun as possible. I sure do need the Vitamin D anyway.

Poor Champ, along with the rest of the horses, still retains a winter coat, and although he is shedding, it's not happening fast enough for the weather. We don't clip the horses, either, so he was one hot Quarter Horse.

I noticed he was acting weird and not really wanting to work for me on Tuesday -- he takes a good bit of leg to get going and keep him going, but this was ridiculous! I had to completely hose him off afterward, because he was soaked in sweat, the poor guy. Today was shaping up to be the same.

He walked out of the barn toward the ring after we tacked up, and then he just stopped. Stood there like a bronze statue in the driveway and would. not. move.

I got a lunge whip to urge him along, but it still took me ten minutes to get him about 30 yards. I should have known. He just did not want to work.

The lesson plan for myself and Allison, who rides with me, was to work on dressage and then jump a little at least. But after about fifteen minutes of half-assing our way around the ring, and the horses getting sweatier and sweatier, Kathy said that we should just go trail ride.


And we did.

I haven't been on a trail ride in at least fourteen years, and I haven't been on a GOOD trail ride in more than that. Champ was just wonderful to ride out with -- he crossed the road, rode on the shoulder and across gravel driveways, and into and out of the woods without even batting an eye.

When I say it was a joy to be in the saddle today, I mean it with the whole of my heart. I could ride like I did today every single day and be happy.

Chatting with my companions, the swing and sway of the horses walking along, and sun on my shoulders and arms, the occasional trot.....seeing the trees in bloom and the sapphire sky...just glorious. My heart was full to overflowing, and my mind was calm. The peacefulness settled deep into my soul, and I still feel it, even hours later. I want to go back and do it again. I wanted to stay out longer and go farther.

My time was limited -- the 2pm preschool pickup constrained me today -- but there will be more rides out, this season, into the summer, and into the fall, for sure.

I am so proud of myself for being comfortable, for trusting Champ to not freak out (not even close), for just enjoying the walk and the company and the horses. THIS is what owning and riding horses is about for me. If I never went to another competition, if I never did anything but had my weekly lesson and then trail rode all over the place, then I could be happy for the rest of my riding life.

I'm already pretty happy.

See? Even Champ is smiling!

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