Thursday, May 7, 2009
I guess she thought she was retired. That would explain her stubborn aversion to anything that even resembles work. She probably assumes that after raising all those babies she deserves to meander around at a relaxed pace, enjoy her leisure time and eat continuously. Hmm, this sounds kinda like me..
I am however, talking about my faithful steed Maravilla Del Rey, "The Wonder of the King". This is the Andalusian mare our farm is named after, and in her prime, she WAS a wonder to behold. At one time, athletic, high-spirited and full of life, the years and the babies have now changed her shape forever. She sways and swings in places she never used to. Gosh, this sounds like me. Anyway...
A dutiful mother, Mara has birthed and weaned her last sweet baby, and so is retired.. from parenting. Now she needs something to do (my opinion, not hers). Something to fill the time, something so she doesn't just stand around getting fat and creaky (again this could apply to me). A "job" if you will..
Therefore, today I decided to ride her.
I went out to the pasture with a halter and lead rope hidden in a bucket with a tiny bit of grain in it. (Brilliant right? This trick has been working since people started riding.) Well, she didn't fall for it. Just as she was within my reach, she sensed the danger I posed to her very existence and bolted. With all the other horses standing and staring, I chased her around and around until we were both wheezing and gasping for breath. She eventually realized that I wasn't giving up and let me catch her. After haltering her, I basically had to drag her up the hill to the barn.
Even though she seemed practically lifeless, Mara hadn't been ridden in a few years, so I thought I'd better work her in the round pen prior to riding. Finding a girth big enough to go around her giant hay belly was challenging but again I persevered. After grooming and saddling, I lead (read: dragged) her out to the round pen, where I tried to get her to move in a circle around me at anything beyond a lumbering walk. She looked like a small elephant, a very old one, wearing a monkey saddle. She was without energy. It must have drained from her body during our earlier "chase scene".
Well okay, I guessed she was ready to ride. I lead (again read: dragged) her over to the mounting block, which in her view had morphed into a crouching bear intent on eating her, and eventually hopped straight out and miraculously landed on her. Tada! After much encouragement, we walk, trot and finally even canter a few strides around the pen. This quickly becomes BORING.
I decided to "cool her out" by taking (forcing) her on a trail ride. Every step away from the barn is like walking through deep mud. We were barely moving forward. She shuffled and schlepped her way along. It took forever to get down to the end of our drive. Finally, we made it. I gave her a pat on the neck, told her she was a good girl and slowly turned her back toward the barn.
That's when it happened. My 20 year old, over weight, sway-backed mare suddenly turned into Seattle Slew at the Derby gate waiting for the bell. She chomped the bit, danced sideways, she even hopped up and down a little.
Alrighty then. I have a few tricks up my sleeve too. Let's do circles, a sure way to bring an agitated horse back under control. Circling, circling, circling. I'm starting to get a tiny dizzy. I turned her away from the barn and head down into the woods. With her veins popping out, she is a sweaty, prancing, bundle of nervous energy. Nostrils flaring, ears flicking, she is GORGEOUS!
The trail twists and turns. I can tell she's no longer sure of the way back to the barn. I let her trot, she becomes lofty and animated. A fallen tree is across the path ahead and I start scanning for a way around it. No need, she's over it with a foot to spare. Who knew she could jump? A turkey darts out from the brush, scaring the heck out of me, but Mara doesn't even flinch. What happened to the carnivorous beasts laying in wait behind every bush?
Who is this brave and fiery equid? I feel like I'm in a scene from "Lord of the Rings" or "Blaze and the Forest Fire". Finally, with the barn again in sight, I slow my beautiful mare down. Even her walk is huge and ground covering. What a ride. What a horse! My mind is spinning with plans, the fun we are going to have. Oh, the places we'll go! Now though, Mara is a hot sweaty mess and really does need to be cooled out.
As I turn her away from the barn however, she transforms into an ancient heavy-footed behemoth from the times before time, slowly inching her way toward the tar pits.
Moving once again, like molasses...in January.