Thursday, March 6, 2014

Still Riding

                                                by Laura Crum

            I post a lot about other things here on this blog, but I AM still riding. I don’t post about my riding very much, because it’s just not that exciting. Short trail rides and just exercising the horses here at home is all I am mostly doing. Some days my son and I get Henry and Sunny out and ride them at the walk and trot in the riding ring for twenty minutes or so—until they are warmed up—and then let them gallop up the hill from the front gate to the house a few times (less than a quarter of a mile). And that’s it.
            Not very interesting blogging material. We are just trying to keep our older horses from getting stiff—and also keep them a bit legged up. The goal being that when we do want to do a more ambitious trail ride (which for us is a two-three hour trail ride) the horses will be comfortable doing it.
            There isn’t much to say about it. Our horses are well behaved and my son and I enjoy cruising around in the spring sunshine. It’s very relaxing. The horses enjoy it, too, as far as I can tell. They certainly meet us at the gate to be caught. We turn them loose to graze afterward…and I KNOW they really enjoy that part. We all seem to get a kick out of the short gallops up the hill. It’s a pleasant part of the day for all of us.
            But I am not teaching these wise old horses any new tricks, or preparing for any exciting event. I am not improving as a rider…rather the reverse. I cannot now do many things on a horse that I could easily do in my younger days. I don’t mind. I enjoy my horse time now as much as I ever did.
            It’s a lot about sharing time with my son. It’s a lot about wanting my horse time to be relaxing and stress free. It’s a lot about not wanting to work hard at the horses (just call me lazy). I want the horses to enjoy our riding time, too. They’re older horses who have given us a lot and they’ve earned an easy life. And I just don’t have goals any more with my horses—other than to share a pleasant life together with them. 
            There’s nothing wrong with any of this. It doesn’t make for an interesting blog post, though. Or for a very exciting horse life.
            On the other hand, if you are a horseperson who is longing for a pleasant, relaxing, drama-free life with horses, I am here to tell you that this is entirely possible. Choose a reliable, older horse, do things that are well within his/her capabilities, avoid events that are about sorting out who is “better” than who and/or who can complete the goal and who can’t. You must also have a bit of luck. But within these parameters it is entirely possible to have an enjoyable, stress-free life full of horseback riding fun. We can serve as an example.
            Henry and Sunny sharing a bit of camaraderie on a sunny spring day, while my son and I chat.

            Riding down the hill for a gallop back up.

            Galloping up the hill…I usually wear a helmet for this, but took it off at my husband’s request for a photo with my hair blowing in the wind. (This photo was taken last summer—see shiny horse—but the activity looks about the same right now, only on a fuzzy horse.)

            Good little fuzzy horse ready to go riding.

My son and Henry riding our local trails to the Lookout, about a mile or two from our front gate.

We do the occasional beach ride.

And we go riding in the woods.

Henry’s favorite part of the whole deal.

Sunny likes this part, too.

            It has rained for a week straight now, so I’m glad we kept up with the riding while we could. Today everything is sodden and muddy, and I am definitely a fair weather rider. But at least we are not whining about drought any more (at the moment, anyway). I hope the rest of you are having some early spring riding fun, as well.


Anonymous said...

"No one should impose their perception of fulfillment on anyone else." from Driving Force, written by Dick Francis

Your horse life sounds wonderful to me. Also I wouldn't call anyone who keeps their horses at home lazy. Horses are a big responsibility which is why they can be so good for kids.

Val said...

Is it spring? We just had another snow storm on Monday, so I can't quite tell yet here in New Jersey. ;)

I am hoping that Harley will be up to this sort of horse life. I was never much into competition, but I love arena work and we used to ride often and get really fit. Since my life includes a 9 month old (!) baby now, I do not think that I will have time for that kind of effort and Harley's allergies are certainly going to dictate our activity level. If we can venture into the forest for walks and take baby for little trips around the yard, I will definitely consider myself lucky. A short gallop would make Harley very happy, too. Oh yes, and grass.

Laura Crum said...

1sthorse--Yes, keeping horses at home is a bit of work, but I find it very enjoyable work (mostly), like gardening. If I were asked to choose whether I could keep horses at home and not ride, or board them and ride all I wanted, I would choose keeping them at home and not riding (though I enjoy riding). It's living with them that means the most to me.

Val--I came to this sort of horse life through having a baby and going through a period exactly like the one you are now in. (I know you read my novel "Chasing Cans"--that was my attempt to describe this stage of life). The thing is, it did expand into trail rides and more lively riding as my son got older, and I also realized that I really enjoyed this version of a life with horses. Here's hoping that you and your daughter and Harley can have a very enjoyable life together for many years.

Alison said...

How's Gunther doing in all your rain? I know you had commented in an earlier post that he suffered.

Sunny (with Sunny) days ahead!

Alison said...

Not Gunther -- Gunner.

Really old age is a bi#%h.

Allenspark Lodge said...

I totally agree with the choice of 'living with the horse'. We got to spend time loving on ours today and it made the whole world seem sunnier. Will be very glad to bring them home this spring - but I am also very glad they are getting to spend time grazing 24/7 - and just be horses.
Bionic Cowgirl

Laura Crum said...

Alison--Gunner is doing OK. His weight is good and his attitude/appetite is good. He got through the last set of storms without losing weight. But he is slowly but surely getting a little lamer all the time--despite pain meds. He will still trot and lope when he feels like it, and he moves around freely, but his knee hurts him. I am waiting...for what I'm not sure. I had Gunner out yesterday to groom and let him graze and he just seems too "bright" and interested in life to let go of it.

BC-- Yes, I miss that aspect of turning mine out to pasture. I felt good about the grazing and being horses part. But I don't miss worrying about them and not seeing them for a week or more at a time. It's always something, I guess.