Hooray! Today was a big day for me and Huey The Wonder Horse: it’s the first time I’ve ridden him just to ride him rather than riding him as part of a lesson! And it was terrific! We spent a half-hour practicing leg yields. For the non-English-riders, this is a complicated (to me) maneuver where with some major (to me) coordinating between one rein and the opposite leg, you can get the horse to move forward and sideways at the same time. It’s like facing the front of the room, and moving diagonally towards it, but not facing the diagonal.
Here is some random individual on YouTube demonstrating a leg yield:
I learned how to do what this guy is doing last week. Today I got the Bright Idea to expand upon it and see if I could get Huey to do it – not for 6 feet like in this video – but all the way across the arena from one corner to the opposite corner on the opposite end. And he DID! What a smart boy!! And then we did it a few more times just to make sure the first one wasn’t a fluke! Gosh, I’m so proud of him. We’ll make a Dressage Horse out of him, and a Dressage Rider out of me yet!
I considered that a Rousing Success. I’m going to really like having my own horse, although I’m back temporarily in a state of disbelief. I can’t believe, right now, that he’s going to be my Special Boy in 3 weeks. I’m sure I’ll get over that feeling, at least temporarily, when the truckload of Horse Swag I scored from Dover yesterday shows up. Buckets galore, a tube of dewormer, a couple of cute little crocheted ear hats to keep the flies out of his face when we’re riding. And something else, but I can’t remember what. So it will also feel like a surprise!
One of the best pieces of this morning is that it was my husband’s first trip to the barn. He wanted to meet Huey, and see me ride, and had some free time unexpectedly open up. We agreed on a time to leave, and he showed up downstairs, bright and perky, in a nice t-shirt, a pair of nice shorts, and birkenstok sandals. He was dressed for a picnic in the Berkshires, or a trip to Tanglewood, or even an afternoon at a sidewalk cafe. But for a trip to the barn, not so much. I reminded myself that Boys From New York City didn’t typically have a lot of experience with trips to a barn, so I told him that he might wish to make some changes in this outfit, like putting on a pair of beat-up jeans and his scuzzy emergency-backup running shoes. Something with a closed toe, I said. Barns tend to be on the manure-y and prickly side of things. Having me tell him to dress down was a first for both of us, I think, but he got on board with it.
He came out, met the barn owner, walked over with me to the paddock where Huey was turned out. Someone (Huey? other horse in the paddock? unspecified third party?) had upset a very large watering trough and made a nice big mud wallow, which Huey was happily standing right in the middle of, looking at us with a friendly smile while churning the mud up with his feet.
“Eeuuw” said my spouse.
I muttered that he didn’t know the half of it while I contemplated the Nastiness of having to pick those hooves out in the near-term future. I rounded Huey up – this was my first time to collect him out of the pasture, and he was such a good boy about standing for the halter. He was sporting the glamorous new blue plaid fly mask with fuzzy trim I gave him yesterday, and looked Quite Dashing. I took him out and handed the rope to Jeff while I closed the gait. “You can pet him” I said.
I don’t think he’d expected to be on the end of a rope today, but I figured this was the first of many marital trips to the barn, and he might as well get used to holding the horse sooner rather than later.
I tied Huey up and went to work. His hooves were, as expected, very nasty.
“That’s a lot of work!” my husband said, with surprise, after watching me brush out the horse and do his feet.
I laughed and told him I hadn’t even started messing with the tack, and that Huey was making things very easy for me by standing so patiently. My husband laughed and asked if there was some place he could sit. I pointed at the plastic chair positioned at the side of the ring for exactly that kind of thing.
He looked at it dubiously.
“Is there a cloth, or something?” he said. He wanted to clean it off. I’d just taken my helmet out of my tack bag and put it on, so I offered him my helmet bag. My helmet lives in its own bag, because even though my standards of cleanliness have taken a real hit with all this horse stuff, I still do not want my manky paddock boots shedding hair, dirt, and manure right into my helmet. Ugh. “Here,” I said, “you can wipe it off with this.”
He regarded the helmet bag, also with deep skepticism. Then he held up Huey’s Glamorama Fly Mask, which I needed to take home to alter, and said “Is it OK if I sit on this?”
Er. I’m not sure what he was seeing on the chair that made dusting it with the helmet bag a less desirable option than sitting on a fly mask that a horse has been wearing, rolling in, sweating on, and chewing. But hey, to each his own. “Sure” I said.
He plopped down and assembled himself in a Suitable State: I told him he looked like he was watching a ballet recital. For a 6-year-old.
Afterward, while I was untacking Huey and cleaning him up, he did what he usually does after a nice little post-prandial workout. He made a Deposit into the Compost Bank. I didn’t see at first, so my husband called my attention to it.
“Er,” he said. “He made a pile.”
I sighed. Naturally, he had stepped right into it, too. I fetched the manure fork, pushed the horse butt out of the way, and tidied it up in the usual way, by kicking the final horse apples onto the fork with my boot.
“Oh.” he said.
When we got home, I asked him how he’d enjoyed the trip. He’d had a great time, he said, but…
“You didn’t think it would be so…” I supplied.
“Yes. Earthy. I didn’t think it would be so EARTHY.” he said.
I’m still laughing. He thought this was earthy, I can’t imagine what he’ll do when he finds out about sheath cleaning.