The time of dried grasses is here.
This evening, for the first time since January 26th, I went for a ride on my trusty steed, Duquesne.
Before I attempted to saddle him, however, I let him go out to the big arena and do what he would. He would, and did, go thundering through the gate, bucked several times, galloped to the far end of the arena, and had a good roll in the dusty soil. When he arose from his dust bath, he bucked some more.
When he stopped by a fence to see if any of the mares were out, I stepped into the arena and began walking toward him. This is The Game. I pretend I'm going to catch him ( I shake the lead rope and shout, "Gonna catchoo!") and he pretends he is too wild to catch, racing across the arena in flight with his tail in the air. Meanwhile, I begin the trudge back across the arena to "catch" him. Back and forth, back and forth. The Game limbers him up and allows him to express his "sense of humor" and limbers me up for the ride.
After a few snorting, galloping passes, he stopped and looked at me. "Are you done?" I asked him. "Come on, let's go."
He knew what I meant, and began walking towards me, with an agreeable posture and friendly ears. I clipped the lead rope to his halter and we walked calmly to the saddling area.
The Little Duke is not a plug. He's a feisty, opinionated, bossy mischief-maker. To have him walk willingly to me (unbribed -- I carry no treats) fills my heart with feelings that I don't know how to describe. I'm grateful for his existence, amazed at how good a horse he is, and in awe -- and humbled -- by his willingness to submit to being dominated by a rider.
The ride itself was good, although the Stinky Dink did prance on the way back after he heard the feed truck taking hay around to the paddocks. Just a little, but enough to leave me with trembly legs and arms when we were done.
Tomorrow I'll know whether or not riding was a good idea. But for tonight, I'm happy with the image of my horse walking to put his head in my hands, happy to be my partner.