Someone recently said something about feral horses. It might have been me. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was. Someone was pretty worried about the whole getting back on a horse after a long layoff thing. That was probably me too. Someone is an idiot.
I haven't been busy blogging (did we really need a new verb?) because I've been busy riding. This is a truly wondrous thing. Even more wondrous is that I haven't fallen off, not even once, not even almost. I did have some issues with raising my leg high enough to get it over the horse's back (apparently horses, left fallow, will grow quite tall). I recognized the wisdom in the design of back supporters, particularly those amazing Professional's Choice models with their infinite adjustability and protection that would make even a linebacker sigh.
But the coolest, most wondrous, most electric realization of all is the one that came when I finally worked up the energy to throw that leg over the monster horse, Zipper. He was fine. We briefly revisited his kicking-out-to-the-side-in-protest issue, but the months off gave me ample time to watch more training videos than I even knew existed. I was able to apply at least a tiny bit of what I thought I'd seen, and a new day dawned on a happy and willing partnership. Yes indeedy, Zip and me, we're buds again and loving it.
My most important conclusion from all of this random learning is that horses may not have the same time sense we humans have. To me, eight months was an incredibly long time to do (or not do) anything. I was bored, nervous, antsy, crabby, and generally impolite in polite company. The horses were not. They were fine. They were just as I'd left them as if no time had elapsed at all. In fact, they were better than fine. Whatever might have been bothering Zip had eight months to go away, and so it did. I had it in my head all along that there was a physical cause for his mental craziness and behavioral putziness. I'm thinking I might have been right. I may never know what the problem was, and that's okay. He doesn't know what was wrong with me, either, and he could care less. I'm okay now, and that's the bottom line. We're All Okay.
So to those folks who argue that too much time off is bad for a horse, I say "Ha!" Sure, Leo, who turned 22 while my back was turned, is taking a while to get into shape, but he's running poles and doing lateral work without complaining, which is just dandy as far as I'm concerned. By the time I'm firing on all cylinders again, he probably will be too.
Zip was born in shape and seems to magically stay that way. At 11 he's got all the gusto he had when he was 5. More, in fact, as he's learned along the way that I'm not too stupid to know a squirrel from a cougar, a trust which is evident in his willingness to follow my commands without as much discussion as the five-year-old verion of him insisted upon.
Dakota is Dakota. He's kind and slow and obedient (for the most part), and we never ask him to do much, so "in shape" isn't in his vocabulary. That will change this coming spring when a real new beginning will (hopefully) find us all ready to start again on whatever path whispers most sweetly to my vapid horseperson brain. I'm thinking some long trail rides for Dakota, maybe--just maybe--some more dressage tests for Leo and Zip, and for me, less introspection and more laughing with the horses.
My new book is out, by the way, with a glaring error soon to be rectified. Horses in the Yard (and Other Equestrian Dilemmas) is the title, in case you've forgotten (said earnestly as if at one time you knew and/or cared), and I'll happily sell you an autographed copy if you email me. Note I said sell not just send. I need to become rich and famous on your dime or it's not going to happen at all. Writing books is second only to watching training tapes on the list of Good Things To Do When You Can't Do Anything Else. Make a note. Someone needs to write a book about the nonsense we foul our lives with to keep us stressed and our horses wondering why we can't see what a lovely day it is for a peaceful graze. That won't be me. I'll be out riding.