Friday, May 18, 2012

it's a Keil Bay day!

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...

Insert 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 by ear.

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:

This 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 brush.

I did a tick check, brushed and combed out his mane and tail, and then trimmed his tail - it was nearly dragging the ground.

The 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.

After 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.

After 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 tacking up.

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.

It's a 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."

I 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. :)

Lo 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.

There's 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 monkey!)

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.

After 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.

He 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.

As I 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.


Grey Horse Matters said...

Sounds truly wonderful to have such a connection with the BigBay or any equine. I can hear your smile through your descriptions.

Victoria Cummings said...

As it should be. I'm happy to see that all is right in your world.

Máire said...


billie said...

A, I think we can all find these incredible connections with our horses if we simply open our eyes/ears and pay attention to what they say to us. I am lucky to have this herd, and while I love each one dearly, I do NOT think they are unique in their ability to teach and bring joy to their people.

billie said...

Thanks, V - it's a good month down here!

billie said...

Maire, thank you! He's a fabulous boy!

Greta said...

I don't always understand the equinely correct terms (like being politically correct) but I always feel warm and better after reading about the horses. thanks.

billie said...

Thanks, Greta - I love that you enjoy reading about the November Hill herd!