I have been busy. Do you want to know how busy? I haven't ridden Harley in six months.
Except for a couple short walks in the yard or through the woods, we have not been riding. At first this was because my schedule is insane. I am a new Mom and I work full-time. My husband and I live a juggling act right now. Many of my barn visits this winter were in the dark. Once or twice I stopped for a couple moments and caught a gorgeous sight: the stars over my horse's head, bathed in moonlight. It was stunning and made me realize just how fast I have been moving and just how much my life has changed over the past year. Some of it has been the most wonderful moments of my life, some utterly stressful, and others have been sad.
You see, for a while now, my lack of rides on Harley cannot be blamed on my schedule. Reality led to feelings of resignation. My horse has a respiratory condition (coughing due to allergies) and there is not a whole lot that I can do about it. I want him to be comfortable and happy, but I want other things, too.
I want to ride.
I love riding and nothing makes me happier than riding my horse. Somewhere in October, I gave up riding him. It was too upsetting to tack up and get on only to get off two minutes later because he was starting to cough. More than once, I pulled his tack without mounting. More than once, I left the barn in tears. Eventually, it was easier not to try. Of course, then the weather got terrible and no one was riding, so I just took care of my horse as best I could and tried to enjoy him as a pet and carrot-eating machine. There were other difficulties that arose due to his respiratory sensitivities, but I am glossing over them for now. Needless to say, it has been a really long winter.
And then last Saturday happened.
It was 60+ degrees and I decided to sit on my horse with just a saddle pad and his bridle. I have been hopping on his back in just a halter now and then for short walks, because I just missed it so much, but this time I decided to take down his bridle...
...We walked around for a bit and I got the idea to ask for some leg yields (this is part of my motivation for riding in a halter. I can't resist doing more). I shortened my reins a little and started to apply my leg and just like that we were trotting! I started to laugh and then remembered that I was not riding in a proper bareback pad. I asked Harley to walk and told him how happy I was that he wanted to trot, but that I had asked for sideways. We went back and he gave me the leg yields eagerly. To the left was super easy. To the right was crooked, but I could not have been happier. Harley was in my hands a bit now and I could feel the impulsion brewing even though we were only walking. He was begging to trot. All he needed was a whisper from me.
I let him trot and he stopped abruptly in a mild coughing fit. I patted him knowingly, not wanting to go down that path of disappointment, but then he stopped coughing and I felt the energy bubbling up again.
I am weak. I just can't resist the feeling of riding my horse. Of thinking together, moving together, and sharing happiness.
I let him trot again, but this time, he didn't cough. In fact, he was full of it! I stopped him because he wanted to rush off. He wanted speed. He wanted to canter. He wanted to ride as much as I did!
After a couple tiny trotting spurts, I had a tough time convincing him that that was all we were doing, so we left the ring and walked around in the yard.
Cue snorts of happiness. (from Harley, not me)
My horse is not fit. He is not 100% healthly (although he is totally sound of limb) and I am not sure what level of activity or fitness he can manage. He has good days and bad. But maybe, he is not quite ready to stop riding.
Maybe. I am cautiously optimistic.