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April 11, 2011

Raudhetta at Eight

I almost forgot about Raudhetta’s eighth birthday. Pete and I were getting ready to go for a ride. She was tied to the trailer, eating. Then I remembered. I finished tacking her up, and as we’d done four times before on this particular day, walked her down to the road. We were, this time, in the midst of a brief afternoon snow squall. The road was free of ice and snow, though there was plenty by the roadside. I mounted up, dropped the reins, and held up eight fingers. Pete took several photos. Then he held her, as I went back up the driveway and retrieved Siggi and Tinni.

Pete rode Raudi and ponied Siggi, and I followed on Tinni. Raudi, as has Siggi, took her job as lead horse very seriously. Siggi was miffed. He again made it clear that he’d much rather be in the lead than the pony horse. This is odd, given that in the pen, he’s the low guy in herd ranking. We rode to the Murphy Road turn and back. The clomping of Boa boots was interspersed with gentle snorting. The boots, Raudi will not trot unless they are in place. Once again, I realized that Raudi is now the right age, both mentally and physically, for the upcoming trip. Last year would have been a bit soon for us both.

Raudi’s a good riding horse, although she does have a bit of an attitude. She’s a diva, Princess Di reincarnated. When she chews hay, she looks like a teenage beauty queen wannabee. If she had a bedroom, it would be decorated with photos of handsome Icelandic stallions. She’d have her own cellphone, and her favorite color would be pink. She’d do her nails and toenails, and spend hours on her hair. I know the type. I went to grade and high school with them. I despised them, called them airheads. I take partial responsibility for what’s become of her because I brought it out of her by doting on her. If I were to do it again, I’d probably again make the same mistake.

Right now, Raudi’s work ethic sometimes leaves something to be desired. She doesn’t like having to think when under saddle. She much prefers to be ponied, so that she can amble along, gazing at the passing scenery. She will do as I ask when I ride her, but sometimes grudgingly. Everything has to be exactly right; for example, she will not trot unless she has her Boa boots on and her Skito saddle pad is placed just so, on her back.

Raudi will come into her own as a riding horse this summer. She has a beautiful extended trot, and a nice, slow collected canter, both of which are reflective of her well balanced frame. And she has at time exhibited common sense, for example, on trails, bypassing questionable terrain.

We are both ready for a much-needed change. I’m tired of repeatedly going around the loop, and up and down Murphy Road. Dr. Wellington said that riding Alaska is like riding in a box, meaning horses and riders aren’t exposed to much. Trail and weather-related challenges we face will be good for both of us. We’ll come back to Alaska feeling more confident about our abilities to take on new trails. The effect will also be synergistic. My increasing confidence level will up hers, and vice-versa.

Raudi is, and will remain the apple of my eye both in terms of her disposition and good looks. Having her in my presence is something that I’m never going to take for granted.