The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pony Rides

Chloe often extricates herself from the herd, sneaks over to the gate, and lurks - waiting for someone to let her out. When she hears the sound of the kitchen door opening, her head pops up, and she stares at the house in anticipation. I do a sort of Grandmother's Footsteps walk over to the gate, freezing if one of the other horses looks over, and surreptitiously open the gate to let her dart out, quick, before anyone else gets there. Here she is, waiting --

Sometimes she just wants to graze. Other times, she likes to hang out and be scratched, or just snooze. The other day, on a whim, I clambered onto her back - not astride, just plonked like a sack of potatoes over her back. She stood still as a rock. I got off, moved away, and she followed me. I repeated this a few more times, and then again a couple of times today, and each time she has stood unmoving and has followed me when I get off and leave her.

Today there was a bunch of kids at the house while Chloe was loose on the lawn. A boy noticed her first (actually she noticed him and sought him out) and asked if he could ride her. I said we'd have to ask. I didn't want to get a halter - seemed too coercive - so we got into position. I knelt on one knee by her head, and told the boy to put his left foot on my other knee. Chloe's reaction was interesting. She almost closed her eyes and started to park out. When we first got her, she knew all about parking out as her owner had taught her to do it for show. But I wonder if in her distant past, someone had once taught her to park out so that a small person could climb on her back. Which, after all, is what parking out was invented for.

Once the boy was on board, Chloe started to move. I held on to her neck, as the boy was a neophyte and I didn't want Chloe taking off with him into the distance. He hopped off, and asked if we could put a halter on. We did, but after that she didn't want to cooperate any more and asked to go back into the field. So I let her go.

The boy then asked to ride George. George was happy to oblige. I gave the kid a leg up, and after a spell of grazing, we set off for a walk. Which turned into quite a long walk, as George did not want to go home. At one point, I paused with the intention of turning for home. At that moment George gently nipped my hand. I objected slightly to his manner of expressing himself, but I knew what he was talking about and said, ok, we could keep going away from home.

He then marched down the road farther than he's ever gone before. At the sheep farm, he looked around intently for the sheep, and discovered them in the distance, grazing in a field set far back from the road. He continued to the next house, which also owns a small flock of sheep. I think he knew they were going to be around the next corner, and he was rather conflicted about whether or not to continue. As we needed to be thinking about getting home, I decided for him.

Next the boy's sister wanted to ride Rose. I put George back, gave Bridget on a lead rope to one of the girls at the house - a girl whom Bridget has a fondness for - so that she could come out and graze, and I set off with the boy's sister on board Rose. Rose was again eager to set out, but we couldn't go far because of time.

As we were returning, we heard a big commotion up at the house. Bridget had realized she was separated from both Rose and the horses in the field, with a strange car coming up the drive and a relative stranger holding her leadrope. So she basically freaked out. Sometimes Bridget is a drama queen. No harm was done. And I must say Rose was much calmer when she heard the sound of the other horses galloping around the field than she was last time. However, as this is the second time there's been trouble from letting someone hold one of the horses, I think I'd better learn my lesson.

It was the boy's first time on a horse apart from pony rides at the carnival, so he was very proud of himself. Not only did he go for a long bareback ride on a big horse - he trotted a bit and even sat a little spook. He kept up a conversation with George as we walked along, asking him questions and making polite remarks. I think George enjoyed it.

It's paint. (In case you're wondering.)

A break to pick clover for George

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