Then we went on a short trail walk. It was perfect; sun, breeze, horse moving perfectly underneath. She feels better than she's felt in a long time, if ever, moving freely and responsive. I feel good too - in balance, my posting is effortless and almost involves no movement on my part, and the canter was lovely too. I was of, and part of, the horse, and the horse was of, and part of me - there was no separation. Oh joy!
I gave her a nice rinse off - she was very sweaty - and let her graze for a few minutes. Then I groomed Dawn, who had a nice coat of dried mud. Yesterday when I worked with her I got the distinct impression that she was bored with the ground work - "woman, what are you waiting for, let's ride!" So I took her at her word and saddled her up - now, mind you, this is the first time I've saddled her up since last fall, although my daughter's ridden her (bareback on the trails) some since she came home from college. Before I got on, I led her (very briefly), doing a bit of crazy walking and then lungeing her at the walk over a few poles. Then I just got on. She stood like a rock at the mounting block until I was on and had my stirrups adjusted.
All we did today was some circles and simple patterns around cones at the walk, and also some walking over poles. After riding Maisie, riding Dawn is odd - you know how if you ride mostly one horse, that feels natural and all others feel odd? - she's much smaller, but wider, and has a much broader, sort of wallowing gait - more lateral motion. And she's stiff as a board - very little lateral flexion and almost no softening to the bit - she either braces or ducks behind. She also has a lot more potential power behind than even Maisie does - she's very athletic and well-put-together and if that can be harnessed, she can do anything - dressage, jumping, anything (although she's very afraid of jumping - hence the issue with poles - due to some very bad experiences with our prior (not lamented) trainer). She invited me to get on and ride - that's a powerful invitation from a powerful and sensitive horse and I am honored - so I feel things will break loose in her and me and allow us to work together. (This, by the way, is the horse that kicked me in the face last year, almost exactly a year ago - see this post for more about that.) She also got a nice rinse off before she had her dinner. This was magical as well - I was not at all worried and neither was she: there was no separation, just an attempt to understand each other and bridge the distance between us.
A very powerful and almost mystical late afternoon with horses - may there be many more like it! There are no days that are better than this - I don't care that I'm tired and hot and that my back hurts - those things don't matter at all. May you also be blessed with moments like this with your horses.