It's a Keil Bay day... it's a Keil Bay day-hay-hay-hay... it's Keil's day, he has it his way, it's Keil's day...
musical notes above. This is one of the many nonsensical songs I sing
to the Big Bay, and this morning when I woke up I knew in fact that it
WAS going to be a Keil Bay day - just me and Keil doing what we wanted
to do, with no time frame, no goals, just playing the song and the time
It's been awhile since I posted photos, so here
are a few from this year. The first one is me and Keil Bay, all bundled
up on a chilly winter afternoon, getting ready for a ride:
And eating hay:
Surveying his November Hill:
With his best buddy Cody:
morning after breakfast I did a long grooming session while the Big Bay
had his hay from the hay-barrow in the barn aisle. He had asked pretty
loudly for some hay as daughter was serving it out, so I asked her to
bring the hay-barrow right to him so he could eat while I worked on him.
I brushed him from head to tail three times: first with hard brush and
curry, then with medium brush and rubber mitt, and finally with a soft
I did a tick check, brushed and combed out his mane and tail, and then trimmed his tail - it was nearly dragging the ground.
Big Bay indicated that it was time for a sheath cleaning, so I used my
fabulous electric kettle to heat up some water, made a bucket of warm
water using that and some cold from the tap, and got out the ExCalibur.
that I cleaned Keil's hooves out and dusted them with my own mix that
approximates the ingredients of the product called No Thrush - we have
used that over the past year or so and I like it, but it's terribly
expensive, imo, so I made my own. I did substitute one major ingredient
for one of theirs, based on what I know about antibacterial herbs. My
version is vastly less in cost and it works great.
all this leisurely grooming, I moved Keil to a dryer spot in the barn
aisle and tacked him up. He was clearly ready for it - at one point the
donkey boys had come into the barn aisle and pulled Keil's lead line out
of its loop of twine - and he turned to the tack room and just waited
for me, watching for me to bring out his saddle pad, the first step in
With this too I went slowly - stopping at
each step to watch and make sure he was still in agreement. I did the
girth up one notch at a time, using the minutes in between to do another
little task. When he was all set, we headed to the arena only to
realize that I had forgotten my stirrups AND my riding boots, so back we
went to the barn for those items. Keil stood quietly while I slid the
leathers on to his saddle and got my boots on.
gorgeous day today - pretty much perfect temp, with a cool breeze to
keep the flies away. We did walking only. After a bit of warm up, and
then a bit of me focusing hard (too hard) on every little detail of the
ride, I decided to do one of my "what the hell" days and just forget all
about dressage and all about riding lessons and theory and just sit on
Keil Bay's magnificent back and let my body go to its own "happy place."
looked down at Keil's mane as I reached forward to give him a big pat -
and woohoo - there was a silver corkscrew "wild hair"! They're coming
out all over the place here on November Hill and we treasure each one
and love what they represent for our aging, wiser, selves. :)
and behold, everything got better. Things had been good before, but
suddenly there was an ease of movement in both of us. We rode around in
Keil Bay's huge rhythmic walk stride and as far as I was concerned in
that moment we were just traveling together through the world.
a time and a place for goals and focus and all the things we think
about when we try to do the right things in our riding. There's also a
time and a place to let go of all that and just enjoy the moment.
Sometimes I get too caught up in what I'm doing, if and how Keil Bay is
doing what I'm asking, and I get very stuck in thinking I have the
ability to control/cue things perfectly. I don't, and even if I did, I'm
not the kind of rider who expects a horse to respond like a trained
monkey. (I wouldn't even expect a MONKEY to respond like a trained
For me, riding is always going to be a
conversation, and I'm always going to allow the horse to have an opinion
and some say about what happens in the process.
It almost always happens that when I let go of trying
to do something very specific while riding, the good stuff happens on
its own. So I let go, and did the Sally Swift soft eye thing, and just
let my body sit in the saddle the way it felt most comfortable, and let
Keil Bay take care of his own self and walk his normal walk, which is
beautiful and bold and panther-like, and you know what? He was just born
with that walk. No one has trained him to do it, and I don't have to do
everything an exact way to get him to do it.
We had a lot of lovely, aimless, walking once I gave up on my overthinking. I gave up thinking at all.
the ride, Keil Bay got two big handfuls of oats and stood completely
connected to me while I untacked him, and even after I was done brushing
him down again, he stood and kept me company in the door of the tack
room while I oiled his saddle and bridle, my riding boots, and tidied
things up a bit in there. This took at least half an hour, and the Big
Bay stood relaxed, his big head and neck inside the tack room, calmly
watching me and simply being there with me.
I had to convince him that it was okay to go in the open stall next door to have some hay and enjoy the fans.
eventually ended up in the stall eating hay, with everyone in different
stalls today - the pony right beside Keil Bay, Cody across the barn
aisle in his own stall, and Salina and the donkey boys taking up two
stalls that were open to the back paddock.
gathered my things to come inside, Keil walked out with me into the big
barnyard, and then he went back and stood by Cody's stall door. So I
opened it up - and after one last pat, Keil Bay and Cody walked off into
the barnyard together, to graze.
It's a Keil Bay day - and when I let things go his way, when I listen to him and follow his lead, he never steers us wrong.