My sister Elisa, niece Michelle, and baby Arley set out on a 45 minute drive to D&L Ranch in Sealy, Texas to do a little riding.
It had been years since I’d been on the back of a horse, and I’d forgotten how much work it was.
What’s up with horse people? I can only surmise that they are extremely patient folks. The thing with horses is, you can’t be in any hurry to get going. If you’re planning on a one hour ride, you’re looking at three hours, really. It takes an hour just to get the animals groomed and saddled up. When you’re done, it takes another hour to water, unsaddle, wash, de-sweat and re-groom them so they can be let loose in a paddock to roll around in the mud again.
General Lee and Doc Holiday are Tennessee Walkers. I was given the task of grooming them before we went riding. The General is an excitable fellow with no interest in either personal hygiene or looking sharp. I brushed him with the curry comb until there was a cloud of dust around the two of us. I took both a hard and soft brush to him before detangling his mane and tail. When the General saw the scissors, he got a little nervous as if to say, “Nuh-unh. I don’t want any part of that.” But I held him firmly and trimmed away. When I was done, I worked some horse hair product–yes, there really is such a thing–into his mane and tail until they were silky and shiny.
Doc, on the other hand, was thrilled to be sporting a freshly-coiffed mane and tail. My sis saddled them up and we were ready to go.
Elisa lunged The General in a very small ring for about 20 minutes, then took him off the lunge line, and turned her back on him. Just as she started to walk away, he followed her, which apparently meant he was ready to follow or accept her as part of his “herd.”
While Elisa lunged Doc. I rode The General in the big ring, first keeping him close to the outside of the ring, then working him in tight circles around barrels in the center. I have to say, it was a lot of fun, especially when I found the “sweet spot” in his gait, which was amazingly smooth and fast.
Next, Michelle took The General and I rode Doc. Doc seemed to be having a little trouble with me, tossing his head and being uncooperative as I turned him in tight circles in the center of the ring. Then I remembered my sis telling me that he had a very soft mouth. I only had to jiggle the rein in the appropriate hand of whatever direction I wanted to go, and Doc complied. His gait was a little rough right before he broke into a canter–at one point I thought my helmet was going to pop right off my head–but then, what a beautiful, easy canter! I leaned my body forward and pressed my heels into him like I was a cowgirl out on the range. Woohoo!
I’d also forgotten how dirty and sweaty a person gets, riding and being around horses. It all came wafting back to me as we were walking the horses back to their stalls. I took a nice long shower when we got back home, and put all my clothes in the washer.
Note to Self: Remember this for tight quarters when we’re camping at the Ranch this weekend.