My Furry McYellowface (and his rider) longs for wide open spaces and natural obstacles

Here in the Great Northwet . . . errr Northwest, our covered and enclosed arenas are undeniably crucial to our sanity training and the maintenance of our horses’ show conditioning. Much as we appreciate them however, we cannot WAIT to get out of them as soon as Spring arrives and the weather begins to turn for the better.

The past several weeks have seen somewhat higher than average temperatures and enough sunshine to almost convince us that summer is truly on the way. For myself and my favorite Furry McYellowface, the first good stretch of warm and dry around these parts really only means one thing: Time to mow, inspect and most importantly, RIDE the Cross Country field at my trainer’s farm.

A winter’s worth of gymnastic drills, though undeniably vital to our training, by mid-March or so usually has us both feeling a little cabin feverish and longing for the open field with its solid logs, hedges, banks and ditches. A secondary perk to this particular field is the large flat spot on which a full dressage court is set each summer and next to that a stadium course where all the brush boxes, panels, gates and other stadium jump “fodder” are allowed to emerge from their winter hibernation. For a few months out of the year, inside this little piece of paradise, we all get to feel a little like equestrian royalty. A full dressage court and stadium course and XC field literally in our proverbial backyard!

Late last week following a particularly pleasant dry spell, my trainer spoke the magic words. “We finished mowing the field this morning . . .”. I’m pretty sure I didn’t hear the rest as I was tacked up and out the door in seconds flat. Though the first ride in the field always consists of an initial trolling for mole holes and other hidden treacheries lurking amongst the obstacles, that first ride is also somehow a little more magical than the rest.

On this day, the sun had begun to sink and afternoon was cooling well into evening. A light breeze had sprung, twirling the freshly cut grasses and chasing away the mugginess that sometimes settles over the field on warmer days. The grass was still long on the outskirts and rustling gently as we cantered care-free around the obstacles to get our bearings and make one last pass in search of “ware holes”. Then we were flying, one after another over the wall, the fallen tree, the coop that occasionally becomes the “dog obstacle” when the resident Labradors choose to sneak in and rest beneath.

We arrived at the bank, the base of which still awaited its appointment with a weed eater.

Sir Yellow was pretty certain that vicious, Buckskin-devouring monsters lurked in those weeds below. I figured he must have a special sense about these things so we skipped that one . . . for now. A couple more passes over the hedge, the lusciously overgrown ditch – also awaiting its weed-eating appointment, we’ll revisit when it’s officially a ditch again – and a wall for good measure then we called it an evening and a job well done.

As I gave him his head, the golden boy snagged a mouthful of the sweet, freshly cut grass and munched contentedly as we wandered slowly back to civilization, prolonging those few peaceful moments for as long as we possibly could. The field behind us still whispered softly with the gentle breeze. A lingering promise, perhaps, of a glorious summer yet to come.