My mom has always been my largest source of support with my riding endeavours. Years of Pony Club, horse shows, farrier and vet appointments, you name it, she was there.
Last September, on her 50th birthday, I decided that it was high time that she get in the saddle and try riding Traveller. She always liked riding our other horse, and Traveller is very calm and safe in the arena. Although I don’t think I was that harsh, she seems to remember it differently!
Without further ado, here is part one of her first experience riding Traveller.
My 50th Birthday
September 20th, 2012, my 50th birthday. No big deal. Spend the day relaxing, read a good book, have a nice dinner… but, unfortunately for me, my daughter Keara had other plans. “Mom you should do something you have never done before in your life, something exciting!” I’m concerned by her definition of exciting. But really, I have already jumped out of a perfectly good airplane (twice actually), and this was before the buddy system- surely whatever she has planned can’t top that. Although the sun was shining, and the swing on the front deck and my book were beckoning, curiosity got the best of me…so I asked what she had in mind.
“You should ride Traveller. Do you know we have had him for over 10 years and you have never even sat on him?! Dad has even ridden him.” Now, I would like to clarify that he was lead around the arena, and if that is what she had in mind I was all for it, but somehow I had a feeling that things would be a little more involved. I should point out that I have ridden before, our old Quarter Horse, Bob, was amazing. Saddle him up (western saddle), line him up at the fence, climb the fence and pop into the saddle. Reins in one hand, stabilizing grab handle in the other! Bob knew what I wanted, where I wanted to go, and how fast. He was my equine babysitter, a lovely gentlemen, forgiving of my lack of knowledge.
I have always found a way to decline the invitation to ride the spoiled, hissy fitting, licorice eating, grey brat we call Traveller. He is very sensitive about everything, and I mean everything. After much debate (she took my book away), I hesitantly agreed to this crazy 50th birthday endeavor.
We start to walk over to the horses and the Grey beast spots us. He watches us and thinks to himself, “Where are they going?” As we turn the corner and begin up the road, he trots to the gap in the shelterbelt to make sure we are still coming his way. I can almost hear his mental chant, “Turn down the drive way, turn down the driveway.” He meets us at the corner of the fence and trots to arena nickering, “I hope they have licorice, I hope they have licorice”. I am the licorice lady, I have some in almost every coat I own. As I dig some out, I am admonished by Keara, “DO NOT give him a 6 handfuls before you ride – you know this!” Fine, one glorious handful later, my hand had been delicately, okay incredibly messily, licked clean (he is the most sloppy licorice eating horse you will ever meet). Traveller nudges me for more, and because I never stop at just one, he is confused. I look over at Keara. First of all she wants me to ride her arguably crazy horse, and now she wants me to upset him? She shakes her head no, and I suppose that I have to listen. Looking back at Traveller, I can see the mental wheels turning, “Is the world coming to an end? Has she forgot to buy licorice? She never forgets to buy licorice… therefore the world must be coming to an end! Nooooooooo!” Things are not looking good.
After breaking his heart, I catch him (that sounds like it is hard work, but all I really do is open the gate and he walks up and puts his head in the halter), and I lead him up to the fence and throw the rope over the rail. He always undoes quick release knots, but he knows the drill- the rope over the fence means stay! As I am the one riding, Keara informs me that I must do the work (doesn’t sound very birthday-like, does it?), but fine, I do like to groom a horse. I find it very relaxing and enjoy the end product, a beautiful, clean, great smelling (yes I love to smell a clean horse and give them sniffy kisses!) horse. Traveller, being the mud puppy he is, takes a bit longer to groom than the average horse.
I am soon accused of dragging my heels, trying to avoid the actual riding part. I tell her that this is absolutely not the case and that things take time, but honestly, I am really having second thoughts about this! I grumble as I tack him up, I think I should be able to use the western saddle for my first time; I love having my grab handle. I also think that I want to do something else on my 50th birthday, and since it is my birthday, I should be able to choose what that is.
Before I know it, a helmet is plunked down on my head and I am told, “Today you will ride Traveller. There are no handles, and you have very bad habits that you need to break. Not all horses are like Bob, so get over it, quit stalling, and get on!”
Oh boy, what did I get myself into?