Harley turned sixteen years old and Sweet Pea turned ten months old on the same day! We celebrated with a barn visit and carrots. Thankfully, the weather was beautiful. I tossed carrots to Harley while Sweet Pea giggled with delight as he gobbled them from his feed tub. It was almost a game of fetch, except there was crunching instead of retrieving. After the snacks, I walked around the farm, visiting and taking in the fresh air. We have been stuck inside quite a bit this winter, so that was a very nice change. When we returned to Harley's paddock, he reached his head and neck over the fence to commune with us. Sweet Pea reached out a little hand to touch his face after watching me pet his nose. Harley dropped his head and let her feel his long, sun-bleached forelock, which she thought was very amusing. She tested his hair with a little tug. Harley didn't move a muscle. We stayed and petted him for a while before returning to the car. It was very enjoyable.
Which Sweet Pea was having her fun, a couple times Harley made eye contact with me. I could almost hear him saying that this is not how we normally spend our time. Normally we groom for an hour and then tack up and ride for another hour. More time would be spent untacking, grooming and grazing. Gosh, I used to spend hours at the barn, any day of the week, any time that I wanted (almost). A lot more planning and prep goes into my barn visits now, and obviously if Sweet Pea tags along, Harley and I stay on opposite sides of the fence, but at least he gets attention and carrots and Sweet Pea is getting some early lessons in how to be around horses. I had to wait until I was seven years old and beg for months before my parents agreed to some lessons, so she is very lucky by my standards.
Speaking of riding, guess who rode for the first time at eight months old!
I hope to repeat the experience again (and again). Harley, Mommy, Daddy, and baby all have to be available and willing and the weather has to cooperate. This first ride was spontaneous. Harley was feeling good, the day was warm enough and my husband happened to bring Sweet Pea along for a barn visit. Harley was excellent. So patient and slow. He didn't mind when SweetPea started babbling excitedly. She loved it. So did I.
And I got to ride, too. Yesterday, I rode Harley for twenty minutes at the walk. Even though we were only walking, I tried to relish the chance to move around. I challenged myself to ride from the middle of my horse and my body. I encouraged his posture with my own. I tried to imagine him staying round and balanced as we circled, turned, and took a few steps of shoulder-in. The reins stayed pretty loopy, but my horse moved with a nice soft arch over his back and neck. His muscle memory was intact, even though we were both out of shape, to say the least.
Then I asked for trot. We had a false start with some coughing, but then he zoomed off and I had pay attention and sit up, because he was so energetic. He felt great! We only trotted for a couple minutes. A few circles in each direction. His tempo was very erratic but he was stretching to the bit eagerly and thoroughly enjoying pushing off in trot. I forced myself to keep the trotting under five minutes by watching my clock. No sense in ruining a good thing or over doing it. I loved every minute.
|Happy Sweet Sixteen Harley!|