Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Three French Hens

On the third day of Christmas, I went out to see Dink, with a big, juicy apple for the little horse.

One, I needed to administer wormer to the old dude, which he loathes, but tolerates remarkably well, in a most gentlemanly manner, neither rearing nor biting, even though I'm prepared for both. When I give him the squirty paste worm medicine (all horses need this treatment on a regular basis), I always let the lead rope untied, so that if he wants to throw his head up, he can, without feeling trapped. (My son-in-law, years ago, demonstrated an easy and quick way to do this dosing, which, oddly enough, the so-called professional horsewoman through whom I bought my first horse did not know, she being of a mind that it took two people to dose a horse.) Dink was not thrilled to smell the wormer, but after a bit of lip-clamping, he relented and let me squirt the gunk onto the back of his tongue.

Two, the old gent needed some exercise under the saddle. He's such a good horse, and even though it's been almost a month since I rode, he was as steady and calm as if he was ridden every day. The day was cold, the bit of the bridle was icy cold, yet he still put his head down to take the bit in his mouth. I could tell he didn't like the chill, because he drew his lips back, and picked up the bit in his teeth for a moment before taking it into his mouth, but he did it anyway, because he wanted to go out for a jaunt. I've known horses that threw their heads around in refusal to take a bit, horses who had to be tricked with an apple or honey to reach for a bit, horses who had to have special rigs so that the rest of the bridle was attached and the bit attached at the last in order to get it in the horse's mouth. Not Dink. He knows that if we're to go out, a bit is part of the rig.

Our ride was short, just around one orchard block. It was good; we saw a jackrabbit scooting off through the orchards, and Dink showed no hesitation about us setting off by ourselves without any other horsey companions. Not all horses will do that, and so I appreciate Dink all the more.

Three, I needed the exercise on the saddle. It's too easy to become a couch potato, or a woman who exercises only by walking. But the fact is, I love being on a horse, the feel of the movement beneath my Wintec saddle, the sound of the horse's hooves, the smell of the horse's hide. Every movement has a communique; every tug on the reins sends a message. With legs and hands, I let Dink know what is to be expected; with tons of personality and acknowledgement, Dink does what I ask. I can open and close most gates from his back; he responds to leg and rein and heel cues to such a degree that if I am paying attention to what's about us, I need never be scratched by branches above us, or worry about him accidentally smushing me against something. I can, if my hat is blown off by the wind, use my crop to pick it up from the ground without getting out of the saddle.

Good horse.

Also, he's got the cutest red ears on the ranch.

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