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Posts Tagged ‘Expectations

September 2011: My Two Horses

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By Katherine Walcott, Illustration by Jean Abernethy

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone [Scholastic 1998]

They are the best of horses. They are the worst of horses. I don’t know which is which.

Each morning, the mare and I don our Red Hats and go for a stroll around the pasture. Mathilda is my husband’s 27-year-old Quarter Horse cross. Over the last 20 years, she’s had a brief career as a driving horse, a briefer career as an event horse, and long, successful career as a grass converter. She even tried backyard dressage with me. Despite her lack of overall talent, she was better at dressage than I was. She has the mind for it. Our story made USDF Connection as “Square Horses and Round Holes” [November 2008]. Now retired and arthritic, Mathilda benefits from regular walks to loosen her joints, plus it’s good for both sets of bones.

We are not building towards anything. Best case scenario is that she lives for another 10 years and we go for another 3,000+ walks. Far from resenting the chore, I look forward to the time to amble and ponder. I talk to myself. I swat flies. I rewrite troublesome text. Mathilda trundles along behind, snorting, stretching, and occasionally hocking bits of chewed carrot against the backs of my legs. Our only goal is to make it four times around. On days when one or the other of us isn’t up for it, we end early and try again the next day.

On the other hand, I had hoped to ride Rodney in the AEC this month. As I write this, horses are pulling into Chattahoochee Hills. Instead of dwelling, I grit my teeth and focus on our gains:

  • Rodney stands quietly ground-tied during grooming. Since he adores being fussed over, this was easy. He is getting the message that whichever side I am working on, the feet on that side stay firmly on the ground.
  • Rodney drops his head below my eye level to have a bridle or halter put on or taken off. He’s better about remembering during the off than the on.
  • Rodney accepts funny objects. When I rolled our blue exercise ball into the field, he put up his ears and trotted towards it. When I led him up to the ball, he put his nose on it and thought, Big, squishy, rubber thing. So? I kicked it around the field. I rolled it gently against his legs. I rolled it underneath his belly. I finally terminated the exercise as it was having so little impact.
  • Rodney is starting to jump sedately. In his former life, they claim he jumped 5’2″. I do not doubt it. Nor do I doubt that he would fly over anything at which I pointed him. However, he will not walk quietly over a crossrail. I am working on convincing him to use only the amount of energy required for the task at hand. There are times when you want afterburners: a mini-prix jumpoff, a Preliminary cross-country, a Second-level extended trot across the diagonal. Until then, he needs to learn to ration his energy.

In sum, I think Mathilda is a waste of time and space (don’t worry, the feeling is mutual), yet I have a lovely time with her each day. Rodney is everything I was looking for in a horse, yet everything about working with him makes me crazy.
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Written by Virtual Brush Box

October 8, 2011 at 9:43 pm