April 11, today, is Raudi’s birthday. She’s ten years old. Every year on this day we take her photo, and I hold up the requisite number of fingers, signifying her age. Today was a scramble because Pete was late getting out the door. But we found time to take the yearly photo. I had her brushed, tacked up, and ready to go in no time.
As I later looked at this photo, I reflected back upon the previous six photos. I backed her at age 4, so before then there were no birthday photos. There is one of me on her day of purchase – she who is standing beside me appears as though she’s decided that I’m to be her owner. She also says this in her book.
A photo is a momentary instance, an image taken at 1/30 to 1/300th of second. Eyes closed, ears pinned back, head high – this is, but isn’t the way it was. We thus recollect, bringing to mind what we perceived to be, before and after. I can provide a context, although after, the context is a contrivance.
2007 -- Photo of Raudi, age 4: The Rider holds up three instead of four fingers – this being an indication of just how nervous she actually is. She’s just been told by the photographer to smile. She has just figured out recently that smiling makes her appear younger than she is. She’s glad that to be able to hold onto
Raudi age about one year
Raudi age 10 years
the reins with one hand – at this stage in her relationship with this horse she would not consider letting the reins drop. Otherwise (she thinks) the horse will bolt and race pell mell down the road. Horse has not yet seen much of the world, though she’s eager to check it out.
2008 – Photo of Raudi, age 5: The rider, at the photographer’s urging, holds up five fingers. The pair now have a year of riding together under their respective belt and girth. Rider is still relieved to have another year in which she is able to hold onto the reins. The two have ventured out onto the trails together, and all has gone well thus far.
2009—Photo of Raudi, age 6. Rider is holding up six fingers, no hands are on the reins. A month previously, said horse bolted on the upper road, leaving the disconsolate rider with a set of bruised ribs. After, rider told the photographer that she was going to sell the horse to someone who might better bring out the best in her. Photographer said no, adding that in time, rider and horse would figure things out. Furthermore, photographer said that he was going to do a long trek with rider and horse. So rider grudgingly agreed to forego selling the horse – for now.
2010 – Photo of Raudi, age 7. Rider is holding up seven fingers, again, no hands on the reins. Her comment, as she did this was, “this is becoming commonplace!”
2011 – Photo of Raudi, age 8. Rider is holding up eight fingers. The past year horse and rider put in many miles on area trails. Rider entered the Bald Mountain Butt Buster Competitive Trail Ride. One mile into it, and horse saw cows and dumped rider in manure pile. Rider again threatened to sell horse. Photographer again said no to rider. Rider grudgingly agrees that she and horse are making progress. In a month’s time, horse and rider will do a long trek. What’s unsaid here is rider is very apprehensive about this. Horse, however, is up for a big adventure.
2012 –Photo of Raudi, age 9. Rider is holding up nine fingers. This photo was taken eight months after the pair did their first long ride. On the first day of the ride, horse and ride encountered cows on the road. They’d just busted through the fence. Horse held it together; rider then speculated that generally, horse is attentive but not reactive. Both did better than survive the trip. Rider, even after trip, still did not feel as though she was one with this horse.
2013 – Photo of Raudi, age 10. Rider is PROUDLY holding up ten fingers. She’s beaming, the horse is obviously quite happy, probably because finally, she feels the warmth of the spring sun. The rider appears to be balanced, confident, not at all fearful. The horse, alert, appears ready to embark on yet another adventure. The two are now, finally, joined at the hips. As is evident here, the new Synergist saddle fits horse and rider. There is no thought on the part of either that horse is going to take off. But rider knows that should she inadvertently come off, that horse will come to her side and touch her leg. Ahead, for both, is Tolting the Divide, Part II. It does need to be said that horse still at times is reluctant to respond in kind when asked to trot. But, progress is being made on this front.
A postscript: Yes, it’s been a big horse year for Raudi, who must now share top billing with Tinni, who remains the world’s best teacher, Siggi, who is so wise and gentle, Signy, who is a horse jack of all trades, and Little Hrimmi, who is both brave and fearless. This is a pretty tall order, but Raudi somehow knows, deep down, that she is, and always will be the apple of my eye.
This past week we had two visitors – Heather came over on Saturday and Marj on Wednesday. Both days, both rode Raudi, ponying Signy and Hrimmi. I thought nothing of putting either rider on her – of course, she let it be known in both instances that she didn’t like the footing, which right now is terrible. But she took her job as multiple pony horse very seriously, and walked nicely with her herd mates in tow. And her ears swiveled back and forth as we all talked girl talk about all our horses. Marj in fact calls Raudi girlfriend. Makes me smile sometimes to think of it. Women and their horses – a wonderful combination.
Next: 102; 4/12/13: Giddy Up