Wednesday, March 20, 2013

first day of spring is officially here

And it has dawned colder, grayer, and much less spring-like than yesterday. So I'm going with the thought that at least here on November Hill, yesterday was the first day of spring.

It was sunny and warm without being hot. I spotted one fly but there are notably no carpenter bees out yet, which makes me wonder what winter weather we might still have in store. The carpenter bees seem pretty savvy about calling it correctly.

I woke up yesterday determined to get in a leisurely groom and ride with Keil Bay no matter what else had to go undone to make it happen. After breakfast tubs I let him eat a little hay in the barnyard while I did a few small barn chores, and then brought him to the barn aisle. He's shedding now, and his winter coat is holding on to all the dust he's packed in by rolling, so I went at him head to tail with four different combinations of brushes and curries. This felt so good to him he licked and chewed and soft-snorted with great satisfaction.

He requested a sheath cleaning and got one. He requested an under the tail cleaning and got one of those too.

He got a face wash with a warm wet cloth and even loved that!

I was happy to see healthy hooves, even with the on/off saturated ground we've endured the past two months.

Since I forgot to bring out his sheepskin saddle pad, we rode with the one dressage pad that happened to be in the tack room (I keep them inside after washing). It was the first dressage pad I bought when Keil Bay came to live with me, and it is as soft as a rag now - no tears or damage but so soft it doesn't stand up at all at the withers. I use it as a cover for his saddle when I'm washing the actual saddle cover.

But I figured it would be a good test of current saddle fit - and of general back comfort on his part.

We had a long ride at the walk with a little spontaneous trot thrown in by Keil once we'd warmed up. For the most part it was wonderful. There were no noticeable issues. The wind gusted a little as we went into the arena, but it was no big deal. Keil was soft, alert, and warmed up into a really beautiful stretching walk. We did changes of direction across the diagonals, a few 20m circles, a few 10m circles, serpentines, and just a little bit of leg yield. Everything felt terrific.

Sometimes when we ride at just the walk the entire time it feels like we're not in the arena but traveling together, on a journey out in the world someplace, alone with the landscape. There were birds singing and squirrels rustling and we watched and listened and walked on and on. The way I imagine it might have been before automobiles, when people traveled on horseback.

The only question being: do we travel well together? And yes, we did. 

I was happy to see that the saddle pad didn't slip at all, and the dust pattern was balanced and even from front to back and side to side.

Most of the ride we were kept company by the handsome chestnut Cody, who stood with his head hanging over the arena fence, his eyes on us the entire time. I considered getting his halter on and letting him pony along with us, but knew he'd get his own ride later in the afternoon. It felt like he intuited that we were indeed "traveling" and wanted to be with us along the way.

It was one of those days, not unusual, where I kept noticing how handsome the Big Bay is, how expressive, how cooperative, how perfect. And on this first day of spring I feel again that I'm the luckiest woman in the world to have this horse as my equine partner.

I sure hope he feels the same about me!


Ingrid said...

Wonderful and touching post!

billie said...

Ingrid, he is a wonderful and touching horse! :) Thanks so much.

Christine said...

I love spring and all the anticipation it brings! And thankfulness - lucky you! :)

Matthew said...

Such beautiful writing about a wonderful day riding the king.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this!

Máire said...

A lovely image of a world before automobiles. What a great partnership you have.

billie said...

Christine, spring is not my favorite season, but every winter, as we near the end of the cold, I welcome it with open arms. :)

billie said...

Thanks, Matthew. He is such a great horse. But of course you know that since you get to hang out with him every day too!

billie said...

Maire, he's really special. I am lucky to have him with me on this journey.