August 23, 2010

Husbands, Horses and Barking Dogs

My husband Steve came with me to go riding today! Steve has only been on a horse when we've gone on one of those western tourist-type trail rides. He plans to take lessons as we get closer to owning a horse, hopefully I can get him more involved sooner than that.... When we got to the stable we went over to get Riddle, the tall former steeplechase horse, whom he was to ride. I thought Riddle was a pretty big horse and he is but more like 16 hands. I'm just used to smaller horses, and I prefer them too! Both Steve and I are short at 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 4 inches. We got Riddle out of his run and Steve followed me to pick up Willy. We then led both horses to the indoor arena to groom and tack them up.

I taught Steve how to curry comb, then stiff brush the dirt off the coat. While he worked on each step I went back to Willy to work on him. Once we got to the hooves I showed Steve how to pick the front and back hoof, Willy did his normal resistance for the hind leg. As I reached Willy's far side I noticed Steve was still trying to get ahold of the first leg. Riddle was definitely testing Steve. So I stroked Riddle and ran my hand down his leg and up his foot went. I think Steve was just feeling a little odd not being as comfortable with horses as I am, though he would not admit that! I picked all of Riddles feet and then we got the saddle; I instructed Steve where the saddle should lay on the horses back. Riddle needed two pads, at least per Susan’s instructions so we followed suit. I looked over to Willy; there he was with his back foot resting, his head lowered and his lower lip drooping....what a cute boy! I went over and finished tacking him up except the bridle. I went over to Riddle to bridle him but had quite a time of it, we was a "head tosser" and being such a big horse that head reached up really high! It was a relief to bridle Willy who was quick and easy.

I then helped Steve up onto Riddle, since he was so tall Steve wanted to use the mounting block. Once he was on I tightened the girth again, I was a little concerned that the extra padding would cause the girth to be a little looser than it would normally. I then hopped up on Willy; asked Steve if he was ready and then we were off down the drive to the road. Riddle plodded along very slowly and meandered over to the grass and grabbed a huge mouthful. Steve was clucking and laughing at the same time trying to get Riddle to move on. Willy and I had moved down the road a ways but I saw that Riddle wasn't going anywhere so we headed back to encourage him to follow us. The same plastic that was on the ground my past couple of rides was, alas, still there.  Willy did his usual skirting around the object while Riddle seemed perfectly fine right until he was on top of the plastic. His neck stretched down and he stared at the plastic. Poor Steve was trying to get him to move on, I clucked at Riddle trying to encourage him. Eventually he moved on.

Later during our ride we encountered a little terrier barking that made Willy start. Riddle just plodded along, he dragged his hind legs; you can see a distinct worn area on the front of his hooves. The four beat sounds were more of a slip-clop, slip-clop sound. I did some trotting up the hills with Willy, he was very spunky today; I guess he was excited to have another horse with him. When we were heading back two labs came running out of a yard towards the horses but neither animals seemed to be bothered by the other. Then Willy and I trotted up another hill and he kept going faster and into a canter. I encouraged him and rode swiftly up the hill with the wind in what little hair I had hanging out of my helmet. I then walked back to Steve and Riddle as they clopped up the hill. We were then accosted by two more labs that wiggled out of their fenced yard, and came running and barking at us. Willy had the chocolate lab at his heels but all he did was move his ears back and forth in their direction, following their movements. Then the dogs ran off to three other dogs that were in their fenced yard and the whole group ran up and down the fence line barking at each other with little regard for the two humans on equines wandering past.

On our way back into the stable yard Riddle walked Steve right into the dangling branches of a tree. I was mean and laughed but at least Steve was laughing too. We untacked the horses; I was so proud of Steve who very easily picked all four of Riddles hooves. When we returned the horses to their runs Steve decided to muck out some of the Riddles stall. The whole run had areas of wet mud and dried manure spread over its entirety. We both wondered how the stall got in this condition, maybe Susan has too many horses and not enough help. I returned Willy to his cleaner run and gave him the remainder of the carrots; he kept searching my hands and “pockets” after all the treats were gone. Then Steve and I went to collect the tack. A neighbor’s Arab came over to see what I was doing, sniffing the polo wraps as I rolled them. He was very pretty and had a more refined head than Willy. We gathered our gear and headed home, Steve was quite sore but happy after having a good horsie time!

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