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.
After a few lessons last fall, we had an early snowfall that never did go away. Thankfully, although it was a long winter, it seems as though spring has finally come, so I was finally able to get her back into the saddle. All in all, it was another great success, but boy oh boy, she has a lot to learn!
Back to Basics, Tacking-up Woes
SPRING!! I love spring! Well… on second thought, I love certain parts of spring: warmer sunny days, the promise of green grass, the first crocus in the fields, trees budding, and flocks of birds returning with their voices heralding the change of season. Then there is the mud. Every creature we own seems to love the mud. They walk, run, and roll in it. Personally, mud is the spring christening that I could do without. The house is always filthy with animal tracks, and you can’t even make it to the car without being painted with some.
Just recently, I was informed that spring brings another positive thing with it (I’m still trying to decide if that is the right column), and that is the start of riding season. The Task Master (aka my daughter Keara) has been riding for a while now, and of course, I have been under the gun to get back in the saddle. Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to riding again, but the conditions still seem a little unfavorable- for example, what about all of the mud?!
The Saturday before Easter was a beautiful day, perfect for a ride, or so I’m told. I had lots of preparing to do for the feast I was serving Sunday, but the Task Master had a point, the day was just calling me to get out. I did drag my heels since, in my mind, riding must occur in perfect conditions only. No mud, no wind, no snow (we still have lots- grrr!), etc. Okay, there was no wind, but lots of the other two. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately (it was hard to tell at the time), the Task Master won and I was out the door to ride.
Now, I know you have all seen the Mud Puppy in his pristine winter condition, clean and sparklingly white! This, my friends, is not what I found at all, as he came by the name Mud Puppy honestly. When we got over to the horses, there before me was one very dirty, muddy yellowy, brown spotted horse. Was Traveller even under there? Yuck! After a lot of grooming, I had the mud knocked off and what seemed like all of his hair, but unfortunately, there is still a lot more to go (note to self, do not wear fleece to groom. Good thing The Task Master had a spare coat!).
Apparently, my lesson of the day was to tack up by myself- this has been done for me in all the other lessons. I had not done this chore in over a decade when I had to help my son at Pony Club (trust me, it wasn’t always pretty)! As I opened my mouth to protest, I was shot a stern look and pointed towards the saddle on the fence. Oh great, but I listen to my order and wade through the mud, get the saddle pads out from under the saddle, and toss them up onto the grey beast. At this point, I realize that he’s a lot taller than he looks, and I’m a lot shorter than I look. Great. Next, up goes the saddle, and I’m instructed to attach the girth to the first hole on each side to start… this is easier said than done as the Mud Puppy decided to hold his breath!
Alright, time for the bridle. At this point I could just say that I easily accomplished this and was ready to ride, but I was warned that if I do not come clean about my antics, the Task Master will add the details for me… probably put differently than I would like. Okay, take the bridle off the fence, flip it over a couple times, undo a buckle or two, stare at it for a bit… at this point the Task Master hasn’t said anything yet, but I know it’s coming…. But really, there is way more stuff on this thing than I ever remember!
Finally, I think I have it the right way up, and now I just need to get the bit in his mouth, right? Pull aside all the gobbly gook, hold the bit apart with both hands, and ask him to put it in his mouth, right? I have the bit almost at his lips when I hear, “MOM, just what do you think you are doing?! I expect better than that from my six year olds at Pony Club!!” Oops.
Maybe, since I made such a mess of it, she will take over? “You’re doing this! Put the reins over his head, bring the headstall up, and slide the bit into his mouth.” Fine, guess I have to do it, but the good news is, it is coming back to me. “MOM, try not to take his eye out!” Got it, don’t take eye out. “Do the throat latch up first, do you remember how tight?” Ummm, to the hole that looks the most used? Long story short, yes, I did get the bridle on, Traveller’s eye intact. With my dashing new helmet in place, I’m ready to rock. This ride is a go!
As I gracefully leap on to my trusty steed, the Task Master calls out, “take him into some snow so I can get some pictures.” No way! How can I see gopher holes through the snow? I don’t want to (insert big sulky lip here), but she tells me that it will be fine and that Traveller will take care of me. Once again, she is right, it is fun, and after a few pictures, we went for a leisurely walk down the road (Task Master walking beside us), visiting with all the other neighbors who were out enjoying the day. Many thanks to the Task Master (AKA Keara) for getting me out and into the saddle on such a lovely spring day!
On dismount, I am told that cleaning tack is in my future… What?! I don’t like the sounds of that, but I bet it will make an interesting story!
Happy Spring Trails!!