I thought I was going to spend a lot of time with my horse this summer. Even with gas prices the way they are. I had plans, gosh darn it! I was going to do some trail riding, get her used to walking on the road with traffic whizzing by, et cetera. Broaden our horizons a bit.
So, of course, life started getting in the way. First, my western saddle bit the dust. It’s fixable- the stirrup leather broke- but it needs an expert’s attention, and the only local leatherworker has a waiting list. So I’m without my best saddle until the end of this month, and that makes riding a little tricky.
But all was not lost, I thought. I have a polo saddle. I don’t want to ride on the trails with it, because it’s flatter than the western one, and there are fewer ways to hang on if Bailey takes exception to a horse-eating monster that’s cleverly disguised as a leaf, but I thought it’d make a good substitute for arena riding.
Then my little Cinderella lost a shoe. I have no idea how she did this. The shoe is undamaged; her hoof is undamaged; she still has the ends of the nails buried in her hoof. She’s not lame, and the nails aren’t causing her any trouble; they just sheared off between the nail head and the shank. Very weird, and it means I shouldn’t ride until the farrier comes out next week and puts the shoe back on.
Then, as if enough other weird things hadn’t interfered with my horse time, summer arrived. All at once. It’s been in the nigh nineties for most of the past week, and call me a fair-weather rider, but when the horses are sweating while they’re just standing around, I’m not going to make them work.
There is one bright spot in this little roller-coaster of events. Before Bailey lost her shoe, I started teaching her to ground-drive. This is when you take long reins, rung them from the horse’s bridle through rings on the saddle or harness, and walk behind the horse, steering them like you would from the saddle, but further away. It’s one of the steps in teaching a horse to pull a cart, and it’s also good for their brains, because it’s something new.
Bailey was very confused by this new skill at first. The sight of the reins coming off the saddle was her cue to turn and face me instead of walking forward. I later learned that she was trained for roping cattle as a young horse, which makes perfect sense in hindsight- when a cowboy ropes a cow, he ties the rope to his saddle horn and the horse is supposed to turn and face the cow, then back up to keep the rope tight while the cowboy doctors the cow or whatever needs to be done. I suppose I should be insulted that my horse thought I was a cow that needed to be restrained, but she was just doing what she’d been taught. We got that misunderstanding sorted out, and now she ground-drives pretty well.
What a weird summer. And it’s hardly begun.