I got out the grooming kit and set to work. I hadn't gotten far and was just brushing his neck, when the barn owner mentioned that I did not appear to be wearing riding clothes. Alas. I wanted to ride, but my body was not quite up to it yet. I had only gotten one good night sleep in the past week and was prone to coughing fits. I am sure that Harley would take care of me, but I have difficulty setting limits when it comes to riding. I would end up riding for an hour, working up a sweat, and possibly setting myself back another week. I am already fighting off two infections. I do not need a third!
So I purposely did not wear riding clothes. I knew that this would (most likely) keep me out of the saddle. Although, let me tell you, Harley is one charismatic fellow and difficult to resist. Despite creeping thoughts of "just a walk around the paddock", I stuck to my guns and the grooming kit.
I barely finished responding to the barn owner's inquiry by confirming that I was not riding today, when Harley started to paw with his right front foot. I was standing on his right side, brushing his neck. Before I could finish scolding him for his behavior, he deliberately brought his right front leg to the side and plopped his hoof on top of my foot! I was so surprised that I barely knew how to react. His hoof was gone almost as soon as it grazed my foot. His stunt had been without pressure or force against my shoe, so I was completely unharmed, but no less stunned by his clear demonstration of frustration.
|"...but it sounds like you said..."|
|"...no riding?! What gives?"|
(These pictures are from a different day when Harley was demonstrating how he can stretch his front legs on his own using the "elbow touch" Spanish walk precursor exercise. I thought they were more amusing in this context.)
"What do you mean? We are not riding today?"
Rather then continue my original notion to scold him, I just apologized and told him that I would give him a good grooming.
"We will ride later in the week. I promise!"
Harley is definitely not the kind of horse that likes to be idle. I think that I underestimate this sometimes. He is rarely fresh, but this behavior definitely qualified! No offense Harley. I do not like to be idle either, but I do want to be able to speak above a hoarse croak and without coughing incessantly some time in the near future, so I am just going to have to give it some time. I know that I could get up there and ride today and it would be no problem, until I felt worse later. Thankfully, spring break is just around the corner. Plenty of time for resting, riding, and cleaning my house, because that needs to be done, too!
What do you think? Did Harley recognize that I was not wearing riding clothes? Did he understand when I said "no" to the question about riding? What does he understand exactly?
Apparently a great many things!