Sunday, April 13, 2014

Might Just Be My Best Day Yet At The Horse Lot

In February Margaret Matry of the Virginian-Pilot wrote a spectacular story about an incredible young lady getting on her young horse for the first time that the horse had ever been mounted. The quality of the writing was among the best I have ever read. The subject was compelling.

The story caught fire on the Internet. if I understand the statistics that I saw correctly, it was shared over 1,900 times on Face Book. As a result of that story I was contacted by several people that want to come up and visit us for a weekend in order to see how to build a program like ours. This weekend we had our first guest visit for that purpose.

She got to participate in something a bit bigger than she could have expected.

It is one thing to be able to get on the young horse in the round pen and move around. It is the most important step in building a life long relationship with a young horse. But the most exciting day is the day of the first successful ride in the woods.

Yesterday the sun was shining. Wild blue berries were budding. The clover bright green and growing strong--grass breaking the surface so long gray and bare. The wind was up enough for a bit of dust to fly. Momma's cousin was planting corn in the field beside the horse lot where my family has been planting corn since before women could vote.It is much too weak of a phrase to say that spring was in the air.

Yesterday spring was in the soul.

And yesterday, for the first time, Peter was ridden in the woods. Ashley mounted up in the round pen with surreal confidence. She has always been able to relax Peter by simply putting her arms around his neck and drawing his face up close against hers. Before she saddled him she did a bit of Jeffry work, sliding up on the horses back, lying still on top of him--her face in his mane and her feet held tightly together, her body motionless except for warm hands rubbing her horse's neck.

He took the saddle easily. After having a person lay on top of him lengthwise a saddle seemed like nothing. He wore a rope halter with light reins. Our guest mounted up on Porter, a formerly wild Corolla and I rode Holland, my once wild Shackleford. We did not mount up until we had passed my huge boar, Amos', pen.

Like the adolescent he is, Peter loved to explore and was clearly delighted with the new sights. At first, when he felt a bit nervous he would scoot up closely to Holland--reassured of his safety he fell in behind him. The Bad Hole, filled with rain water , was over the depth of the horse's knees, and extended about 30 or 40 yards. Peter wanted to go around it. Ashley calmly directed him into the water. We came in through Jacob's Trails, a series of winding paths cut through 15 acres of woods, often barely wider then a horse and much of it submerged in swampy water. 

He stepped in and plowed through it like he had been doing it all of his life. As we broke into a trot Ashley let out the little giggle that girls seem to always make the first time their horse speeds up with them. She was delighted.

Me, more so.

Over the years there have been a lot great times at the horse lot, but I have not had one that meant this much to me. Last night I sent a note out to several of my long time riders who were not there yesterday and told them how wonderful it went. Before I hit "send" I noticed the names on the list.

It did not seem like all that long ago that several of them joined me in the woods for their first ride on their young horse that they trained at the horse lot.

One thing is certain, everyone of them can fully understand what a wonderful day yesterday was.

(Ashley on Peter Maxwell and me on Holland coming in after a great ride.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh how they have grown together...This is the classic, and somewhat cliche literary tale of a girl and her horse..

Except it is real...real right down to the hair he shed on Ashley's pretty white shirt on Saturday..
Peter has grown into a confident and sure footed young horse, as graceful a mover as his mother, and so has Ashley..except she is not a horse..She is the person attached to that grin..which will probably be stuck for a month or two. PROUD of them. -Lloyd