Monday, February 22, 2010

Commander gets wise to me

Today was another soft warm day, so I decided to ride the little guy again. This time when I entered the run-in paddock, bridle in hand, Commander looked at me, looked at the bridle, and made a slow-motion escape attempt. Ha! He's figured me out. Since he had nowhere to go (the run-in paddock being rather small, and the fields beyond being shut off as too muddy to let the boys out onto), his half-hearted rebellion fizzled out fast, and he resigned himself to his dreadful fate.

I got him to stand on a lower patch of ground next to the mounting rock this time, so the boarding process was somewhat closer to graceful than the last time. We did a bit of ringputter, then I dared to take him out into the wilderness. Yes! Out into the great beyond!

We headed out from the ring, out along the farm lane, out across the culvert, out past the knoll to the rise of ground on its far side. By golly, I believe we travelled as far as 60, maybe even 80 yards away! Commander was dubious about this mad venture into the unknown, what with the narrowing of the lane over the culvert, the water puddled along it, and the evil-looking grubby swathes of snow flanking our path, but when I refused to accept any sucking back he bravely went on. In fact, by the time we turned around he seemed relaxed and even intrigued by the new stuff to look at. I'll give him his due: He didn't try to rush when we headed homeward into safe familiarity, just pattered along on a loose rein at his usual rate.

Commander's a bit of a lazy boy, and would rather not work, if you don't mind; but if you do mind, he says okay then, I'll do it, and does it. I love Ben dearly, but he's a lot more work, needs a saddle, needs a warmup, and needs effort to ride his big elastic gaits. Commander's a no frills, no effort quick spin. If you've only got a few minutes to spare for some riding fun, he's perfect for it.

He's also polite about taking his Meadow Mints from your hand afterwards.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Today I rode Commander

Yes! Today I rode my fiery Morgan -- well, my fresh, not-worked-for-months Morgan -- okay, my laidback, yeh-whatever Morgan. It was a mild soft day (for February, anyway), so I figured, what the heck, just pop on his bridle and hop on bareback.

Yup, bareback on a horse that hadn't been worked for at least a couple of months. Bareback by a mostly sedentary over-60 rider whose primary exercise comes from mucking and wheelbarrow pushing. Who hasn't been on a horse for at least a couple of months, and hadn't done all that much riding for ages before then.

This is, shall we say, not exactly the smartest move one could make, eh? Indeed, my knees were a bit weak as I got going on my folly.

Commander wasn't thrilled to be taken away from his hay but he submitted to being bridled with patient good humor. He led quietly to the mounting rock, stood quietly next to it as I slung my leg over his broad back, and stayed quietly still as I lunge-leaped the few inches required to heave my body far enough across said broad back to get aboard. He actually waited till I was more or less centered and upright, in fact, before moving off at a sedate walk. I tell ya, if he'd wanted to dump me he'd have had no trouble; if the rock had been an inch or two lower, or his back an inch or two higher, I'd never have made it, and I am very glad there was no one there to point and laugh during the mounting scramble.

So, off we went, me grinning with silly triumph, Commander no doubt wondering what he'd done to deserve this. We ambled up around the barn to say hello to Noah, farm-son (Maria, farm-wife, was out for the day; Peter, farm-husband, as it turned out was inside and watching with bemusement) and to let him know that he need no longer be alert for any screams for help or dull thud followed by appearance of riderless horse. Then we ambled down to the ring and puttered about for several minutes.

We trotted! Okay, we jogged. Short distances. Commander has the most wonderful tiny jog-trot; it pit-pit-pits under you while you just sit there gliding along. It makes a riding lawnmower look like a rank bronc. When I'd tired of ringwork (ha! more like ringputter) I rode back up around the barn, jogged a bit in the driveway, then ambled back to in front of the paddock and slid off, praising my magnificent steed mightily.

Said steed took it as his due. He cheerfully followed me back into the paddock, amiably stood for the removal of his bridle, then went back to his hay -- Well, no. No, actually he stood facing the gate, looking at me expectantly. Waiting. Beaming a simple steady message at me: "I worked for you, now you reward me." Apparently neck skritches and verbal praise don't qualify. Fortunately, I had a stash of what would qualify in the barn, and once he got his horse cookies (Meadow Mints, to be exact) he decided the deal was complete and went back to his hay.

This guy is a hoot.

Update: And here we are!