It’s the end of the day and only a little time left to school Encore! before the daylight fades into dark with a tiny slice of moon. I have a determined commitment to work with Encore! six days a week, so I dropped all other responsibilities, put on my riding boots and headed out to enjoy another session with
I tossed some alfalfa and orchard grass to Encore! and Coltrane, intending to groom them both while they munched their dinner. They feed all day long, so it wasn’t a severe disturbance to take Encore! out of the catch pen after a brushing and tie her up for getting dressed for long lining.
It was a sober afternoon. I met up with Shirley, who keeps her two Arabians at our place, and shared my sincere sadness at the passing of her father Tony. He had a special bond with our dog Mozart and a deep affection for the horses and chickens. He was a kind and gentle man that we will all miss. It was easy to appreciate the quiet between Shirley, myself and the horses as we remembered Tony’s delight in being with animals.
Yes, to be with animals, large and small, is a wealth beyond money. Encore! has certainly been a lifeline for me these last two years, and I was glad Shirley had her horses, Daubry and Passion, to silently comfort her.
Encore! So present that nothing can invade my attention and distract me from attending to her, was, again, a lift out of melancholy. I put the surcingle around her barrel, gathered up the flag and the whips and led her down to the flat carved out for me by a generous neighbor.
I have a consistent routine to keep me safe. I do a little “natural horsemanship” with the flag to get her feet moving and her attitude respectful. Then I lunge her to give her time to warm up slowly and practice our voice commands. Next, I longline her to practice transitions, patterns and more voice commands to be sure she and I are on the same page. When this routine is complete, I am safe to climb aboard. She is young and exuberant. I take no chances.
Today, we rode around the property for forty-five minutes exploring places familiar and unfamiliar. She was good, but she had moments of testing. I squeezed her on and firmly growled at her to let her know never ever could she think that bouncing around would be acceptable. She quickly settled down and we had a happy time. I discovered she has the most swinging spine I’ve ever had the pleasure to ride. It virtually swings like a hammock under me when she walks. This is a very good thing and promises excellent potential for “artistic equitation”, a term coined by the expert horseman Ramon Baccera. If I can teach her to be sensible, solid and trustworthy, she can advance to high school.
Tomorrow we’ll head over to our neighbors farm and arena for more schooling. This is only the third day under a dressage saddle. Up to now it has been a western saddle for our ride-abouts. That’s why I just now noticed her amazing back swing. “If it ain’t got that swing it don’t mean a thing”.
Encore! can dance. Let’s tango!