Jay and I took a break from our own horses and headed up the hill to go out on a ride with Bill.
I haven't been out on the trails since my birthday ride last year, so it's been about fifteen months. (I'm not sure I even blogged about that ride because I was so heartbroken over having to do it on Washoe instead of my Estes.) It had been even longer for Jay. He and Washoe had a blow up a couple of years ago, which just about turned him off of horses forever. Washoe didn't dump him, but he tried to decapitate him and was just such a shit that Jay lost interest in riding for a while.
I'm very glad that Jay's interest in horses was re-kindled with Skeeter's arrival and that he's built such a good relationship with Copper. Jay's such a natural with Copper and Skeeter that it's easy to forget he's a greenhorn. By spring, Jay will be riding Copper and he thought it might be a good idea to get back up on a horse other than his own to get back into riding.
The weather yesterday couldn't have been any better. The sun was out and the breeze kept the temperature just perfect. Mom and Bill put Jay on the Old Man (Ranger) to start with, just until he got comfortable again. I took the Wonder Idiot (Washoe) and Bill rode out on The Mare (Jesse).
It felt so good to be back up on a horse, and what a treat a finished horse is! It's easy to take it for granted when that's all you've been riding, but after my two very short rides on Skeeter, it was nice to just be able to tighten a leg and flick a wrist to get a turn or make a steering correction.
Still not a fan of saddles, though. It's hard to remember a time when riding bareback was still a novelty and terrifying, but I definitely prefer it now. I'm sure once I put the money into finding just the right saddle for me and Skeets, I won't hate them as much, but they're torture devices, I swear.
Ranger took really good care of Jay for the first part of the ride and then he was done. Jay and I both weight a bit more than Bill and Ranger wasn't going to go one step farther until he got his human back, so we played musical horses.
Jay went to Washoe, Bill went to Ranger, and I went to Jesse.
Me riding Jesse is monumental. I don't like Mom's horse. Never have. To say we've had a "personality conflict" for her entire life would be an understatement. In all honesty, I never had any plans whatsoever of sitting on Jesse. But, I gave Jay the choice of greys and he chose Washoe, which left me with Jess. I took a moment to scratch her and try to make friends before I mounted up and sent up a quick prayer that she'd be in a good mood that day and not want to kill me.
Washoe tested Jay a bit, but didn't throw a temper tantrum. He just refused to do what Jay asked, until he asked properly, with clear signals. It was a really good lesson - who says horses can't be good teachers?
Once Washoe got Jay straightened out on how to steer, the ride went smoothly until we got to a downhill, then Jess put on the brakes. Bill and Jay merrily tromped down the hill and Jess was going nowhere. Period.
I couldn't figure out what the hell was going on. She wasn't upset about anything, there were no animals around, she just was NOT going down that hill. I tried everything I could think of to get her feet moving. She would circle. She would go uphill. But downhill was NOT going to happen. So I let out a big sigh, hopped down and lead her down the hill to where Bill and Jay were waiting.
I finally found a place to re-mount, checked the cinch, which was a bit loose, but didn't think anything about it until I put my weight in the stirrup. My assessment of a "bit loose" was maybe an underestimate. I took six inches out of the cinch. No wonder she didn't want to go down the hill with the saddle that loose. Once I tightened it up, we didn't have a single problem the rest of the ride.
In fact, Bill even took a cute picture of me and Jay with Mount Meeker in the background.
|We hope that next year we can recreate this picture with our own horses.|
Jay has been wanting to go riding since mid-summer, but our schedules just never worked out. Now I'm sad that we weren't able to make it up until October and we missed all of the beautiful greens and summer mountain flowers. Next year, though, we'll be up there, if not on our own horses, at least ponying them to get their muscles conditioned to moving on mountains again. It's been a few years since Copper and Skeeter have had to go up and down hills.
I should have had my camera out to capture the look on Mom's face when she came out of the Lodge and realized I'd just dismounted from Jesse. *That* alone was worth climbing up on Jesse's back.
The horses don't look too fuzzy in the pictures, but it was apparent, after we took the saddles off, that they've definitely grown some winter fuzz.
|It almost looks like Ranger has tan lines.|
Mom, of course, had treats for the poor, abused beasts when we got back and handed them out. None of her horses had ever tasted peppermint, but they all agreed that peppermint is pretty yummy.
The greys weren't so certain at first, but quickly decided they would have more, please.
And Ranger broke out his super powers to get the last stick.