Home > Dispatches > Trip Preparations > January 21, 2011-2

Friday, January 21, 2011-2

Mr. Siggi and Ms. Raudhetta

I went for a ride today, after doing my early afternoon chores. I’m now alternating riding the three horses.

Yesterday I rode Raudi and Tinni, today I rode Siggi and Raudi, tomorrow I’ll ride Tinni and Raudi. The daylight is coming back fast, so I will soon (again) be able to ride all three horses in a given day.

I generally use the Mr. and Ms. designations when referring to them both, as a form of respect. Virginia once told me that April Arseneau did this when she was schooling Icelandics, and it stuck with me. Much has been made about how horses need to respect us. I think that too, we need to respect them.

Riding both is a study in contrast and comparison. Mr. Siggi has it together mentally and Ms. Raudi has it together physically. Both require similar and different things from me as a rider. Always, I keep in mind that balance and good hands and a good seat are most important. The minute decisions that following during the course of a short and long ride are predicated upon this.

I can be assured that Mr. Siggi will keep going when he sees something unusual, such as (today) a burning brush pile, snow falling off a roof, or an errant dog. He takes such things in stride, as if my exposing him to such things is a part of the program. And it is. To say that Siggi doesn’t have the best conformation is an understatement.

He has a very steep croup (I call it his snowboarder’s ass) and his left rear leg turns out markedly. He also overstrides in the rear, which means that his rear legs reach further than his front. All this is why pace is his gait of choice. He also has a difficult time stopping. I’ve been following Pete’s lead by working on this and his tolt, by both doing hill work and serpentines. In all respects, he’s been doing remarkably well.

Conversely, I can be assured that Ms. Raudi will take note when she sees something unusual, such as a rock on a snow bank, a recently downed tree limb, or a figure walking at the distance. It’s an exaggeration to say she spooks, because she doesn’t. Rather, she stops, assesses the situation, and then acts accordingly. I’ve learned how to deal with the head held high, the chuffa chuffas, the half-spins, and the all-out bolts, which now seem to be a thing of the past. I humor her along, by doing a variety of things, always the first of which is a neck shake. This loosens her poll, and lets her know that things are just fine. Too, my repeatedly squeezing gently on the reins loosens her set jaw. I also make a whoosh sound, which is a long exhale. This further seats me and relaxes my pelvis.

Raudi is well-balanced, and when focused, she easily takes up the required gait. As with Siggi, when we have it together, we really have it together. I live for such moments, and I think, so do these two half-siblings.

At the conclusion of all rides, I get off about a quarter-mile from our driveway, and start walking. This part of our outings also give me great joy because this is a time in which the horses and I are completely relaxed. In the summers, I stop and let them graze. In the winter, I let them gaze out into space. At this time I also think about how incredibly lucky I am to own such well-mannered, intelligent, and receptive creatures. For me, this is the dream of a lifetime come true.