It is cold and damp today, as it is all to often in Oregon in the winter. My hip and lower back have not been happy with cold and damp since my fall from Hector at the first of the month and the recovery seems to be taking forever. On such days as this, my motivation to call in a horse from the pasture, groom him, tack him up, and then climb up is at a low ebb. No, I was not going to ride today.
Instead, with the rain forecast for the next several days calling for 4 to 6 inches of rainfall, I decided I had best take care of as many chores ahead of time as I could.
First, I pick up the yard, three dogs don’t ya know. As I did, Jupiter stood at the arena fence and watched me, so when I was done, I picked some of the apples that remained on the now completely denuded apple trees along the property line and took a few out to him. “Here ya go buddy, but I am not going to ride today, okay?”
After that, I brought in enough hay from the storage bay, into the barn, so I wouldn’t have to do it in the rain, even if the rain lasted more than the few days the forecast calls for. While I did, Jupiter stood at the entrance barn from the pasture and watched me with his soft, curious eyes.
Next, I cleaned and bedded the five stalls currently in use. Still, Jupiter stood at the entrance and watched, nickering to me each time I moved from stall to stall. I rubbed him on his velvety nose and scratched behind his ears, before heading back in the house. “Sorry buddy, but I am not going to ride today.”
In the house, I cleaned up the kitchen put dishes in the dishwasher, and considered what I was going to make for dinner tonight. Jupiter stood again at the fence, looking across the arena and into the kitchen widow. I glanced at the weather station display that sits in the kitchen window, 40 degrees, and showers forecast. “No, I am not going to ride today.”
I gathered some laundry, figuring to get one load done. Looking out the back door window, there was Jupiter again, he had moved down the fence when he saw the light in the mud room come on and he was watching me still.
Last on my list was a quick trip to the post office and back, which took about 15 minutes. When I got back Jupiter was out in the back pasture, but when he saw the truck pull in he trotted back to the front and up to the arena fence again. “It is not time to eat yet buddy.” I said to him as I took the mail and packages inside, but once there, I knew when I looked out the window, he would still be standing there.
He was waiting for me at the entrance to the barn when I opened the gate and put his head straight into the halter. 10 minutes of grooming in the cross ties and he was clean enough for tack. Saddle, bridle, dressage whip, and we were heading to the arena, me walking ahead and him following at liberty. I stepped up on the mounting block and he walked over and parked himself, the way he always does.
15 minutes of warm-up later and we are cantering in such collection as to allow me to ride in circles so small that I could place my right hand on the head of someone standing in the middle of them; flying lead changes from just a small shift of weight and turn of my body; halt, rein-back to passade. Through all of it, Jupiter is calm but animated, enthusiastic but not wound up, and oh-so attentive.
My hip hurt when I got in the saddle and for much of the warm-up period, but it either stopped hurting, or I just stopped being aware of it, before the warm-up was over. By the time the ride was over, and we were walking back to the barn, at liberty just as when we walked out, I had forgotten that I had ever hurt.
I untacked him, did his post-ride stretches and a couple of extra treats, then I turned him back out into the pasture, where he walked slowly back out to the far pasture as I came back in the house, until it was time to bring all 5 of the boys in for the night.
My hip is starting to hurt a little again now, but I don’t mind; after all, I was not going to ride today.