Back in the Saddle: Seventh Ride

The seventh ride came at the end of a long day, which began the day before by my starting a friend’s Christmas present pie later than I should’ve.  So after getting to bed after midnight (pies can take a hour to bake, and then another two hours to cool enough to cover without their condensing on themselves inside whatever covers them, and this (the condensing on themselves) makes for a watery pie.  Not OK) I woke up shortly after 6 am worried that maybe the pie had been too warm to be covered after all (it hadn’t rained on itself)  and despite that early waking and tiptoeing to the kitchen to check on the pie, it took me forEVER to feed horses, eat breakfast, clean up from the barn, change into city clothes, and get myself, the pie, the other stuff I needed for the trip into the car and actually on the road.   Pie delivered, I picked up M- at his apartment, and we went to Dover Saddlery to buy him a helmet because he wants to ride Rags and I am a helmet freak, since mine saved my life, if not all of my brain.  We did that.  Then we drove back up here, with a couple of necessary stops, including at the grocery, which was packed with people, far too many of them unmasked and some of the unmasked coughing and sneezing and talking loudly.  And finally got home.

By the time I got on Rags it was 3:45.   Their winter evening feed is at 4, so the light’s enough to feed without needing a headlamp even if it’s cloudy.  Rags was not thrilled to be plucked out of the horse lot at 3:25 (approximately), brushed, fly-sprayed (it was warm; the nasty little biting flies were on him, but he hates being sprayed) , tacked up, etc. and less pleased to discover, after we got into the Near Meadow, that I wanted him to go up the east trail again…AGAIN?  Really?  But…but it will be suppertime in just a few minutes and…WHY?   Real reason–he was scheduled for a 20-22 minute ride today.  I swear it was on the stroke of four that his patience snapped.  Snapped in the sort of half-speed way that Rags snaps.  He stopped.  Ears in the Sullen Resistance position.  I urged him forward, verbally and with nudges of heels.  He backed up.  A firmer nudge.  He went sideways.   We had a low-key and slow version of a real “I won’t and you can’t make me” which ended when I gave him a deeper voiced, grumpy-sounding “WALK ON!” and a distinct tap, both heels.   Ears popped into forward “Sure, whatever, I can do that” and he walked on.   But there were several hesitations on the second half of that trail, including veering into the taller grass and snatching a bite (could’ve told him that all the seeds were off the seedstalk and what was left wasn’t that tasty, but he found out for himself.

Once we got onto the burn scar, the wind had freshened, and the oak trees along the north fence were making Different Noises than he’s used to in the wind.  These are the trees that got scorched on one side, and those limbs have a mix of dead and later-sprouted leaves, and it does sound different.  He stiffened and wanted to use that as reason enough to turn back, but did respond to my seat and voice; we went about 2/3 of the way down the slope to the highway, where I stopped and let him watch cars go by.  And trucks.  And utility trucks pulling various kinds of trailers.   We turned, walked back up the slope to the mowed trail toward home, and he cheered up, offering no resistance to that direction.  Fine, but he was covering ground fast enough I needed to take up some more time to make his scheduled workout.  I turned him into an area R-had mowed within taller grass, like a sort of arena (small & irregular but cool in its way) and he said NO.  I want to go home and eat my supper.  And I said (voice and legs and seat all saying the same thing)  “We’re going to make a circle in this.”   NO.  NO_NO_NO!    I WON’T!    Voice of reason not working, I used the gruff voiced “WALK ON” again and he found that he could, though he wobbled around trying to crash through the “fence” of taller grass and refused to go out the mowed “gate”  because he had to face the wrong way to do it.  But he did, in the end, and sped up into his faster walk.  Mean, horrible owner made hm stop again before the rock crossing and he threw his head up, gaped his mouth, insisted he HAD to hurry over it….but finally walked over it without rushing after being made to walk a tight circle.

Some more shenanigans in the Near Meadow to use up the last four minutes…and then, instead of standing beside the portable stall as he’d done so nicely the day before, he had to be circled three times before he was close enough I could use the rail to help me dismount.  But then we were done.   He was sweated up some from the “arguments” but not too sweated up for the weather, which was 70s F and sunny.   I rode in short sleeves.  Their dinners were only 25 minutes late, and that much only because Rags tried to hide out in his stall so he wouldn’t have to leave the barn while I put the feeds together.   (A rule that prevents ramping around while I’m trying to set up, and nips and kicks between them that are a danger to me, too.)   Anyway, they had their feeds not *that* late, and no harm done.

Tomorrow, January 1, there’s a cold front due that will drop temperatures down in the 20sF, so I’ll need to ride early in the day if possible, before it hits.   And we’ll need to stuff hay nets in prep for that, and put the last of the shavings I have in the west stall.  People are still setting off fireworks (it’s nearing midnight) so I can’t really sleep yet (when I fell asleep earlier, the fireworks hadn’t started.)  But 7 rides in 10 days has been great fun.



6 thoughts on “Back in the Saddle: Seventh Ride

  1. Wow, I guess riding and training Rags is a real kick. It’s raising another child. But the riding is good for both you and Rags. So Happy and safe and sane New Years for you and yours.

    Jonathan up here in rainy New Hampshire

    1. It’s a kick for me, because I’m horse-crazy to the core, always have been, and unless they buck me off and stomp me (e.g. Mocha) I enjoy working with them to improve our cooperation. Mocha found her best life far away from me, and the guy who bought her was crazy about her. A man’s mare, as some are. Anyway, with Rags there is definitely a parent-to-toddler vibe going on…he’s green enough that he needs a rider paying attention, not day-dreaming in the saddle, which is good for me, and he needs someone who doesn’t get upset but recognizes “this is normal green horse behavior” when he “suddenly” turns difficult.

      Happy New Year’s to you, up there in New England with some rain. We’re dry and cold at the moment.

  2. Happy New Year, Elizabeth! It’s such a joy to read this whole series of reports on Riding with Rags and to see the steady progress both of you are making and to know that *you are finally able to ride out on the land again*. The cooking glimpses are also welcome.

    I do still miss your old Facebook posts, and oh! the good old days at the fishing shack on, with all of the old gang! They made up a lot of my best memories of cyberspace in the ( oooh) 22 years since I first started reading your blogs after meeting you through Lee Martindale at Chicon 2000 🙂

    I’m hoping to achieve a little New Year’s Day culinary adventure of my own this afternoon (having failed to pull it together to cook anything special for Christmas or New Year’s Eve). I’ve acquired a goose from a farm in South Dakota that offers “pre-roasted goose” among several styles (raw, smoked, etc) available. It goes into the oven frozen and only needs to roast for a further 90 minutes, and seemed less daunting than having to defrost and start from scratch, never having attempted goose before. (Turkey no problem). Then there will be roasted Brussels sprouts, dressing with chestnuts, green beans, and a homemade-from-scratch mince pie with real beef in the mincemeat and leaf lard in the pie crust.

    And I’m hoping to find a good soup recipe to use up the goose carcass afterwards – or maybe mixed with the Thanksgiving turkey bones in the freezer? I have a jar of dried veg pieces for soups waiting in the pantry. Anyway, I hope to get the year off to a good start.

    May 2022 be a truly happier, healthier year for all the Moons (biped and quadruped alike) and for all who visit here!

    1. I hope your goose turned out beautifully. One year my mother’s boss, who hunted up north, gave us one of the geese he came back with. We were very excited to have a goose, and much research in the old cookbook went into figuring out how to cook it. We also had to *pluck* it, and had rosy visions of collecting enough goose down for a pillow. (Insert laughter at the ignorant, here!) It was, as usual, quite warm (hot!) in S. Texas in November, so the house had windows and doors open for ventilation. We started plucking. Mother had a sack for us to put the goose down in. Goose down sticks to sweaty fingers (and faces) and goes *everywhere* before you can easily catch it…and trying to catch it once it’s drifting in the air means it moves when you come near it. We didn’t collect much (a cup-full of fluff?) The goose was delicious. My mother put an onion and an apple in it, and the leafy end of a stalk of celery, and basted it with its own drippings. Very good, but not good enough to tempt us to ask her boss for another goose the next year, when it meant plucking it!

      As for a recipe for the goose carcass…Mother didn’t do this, but I’d be tempted to try for stock, not a whole soup. Carrot, one or two celery stems with leaves, a half handful of parsley, an onion or two, and if I had chicken or turkey bones would throw them in as well. Some black peppercorns, herbs of your choice (thyme, sage, rosemary, basil if it smells right next to the bones), simmer until the bones are white and “dry” looking, then strain and use as you would chicken or turkey broth in making other soups. A chicken or turkey vegetable soup should be good, though it might need a different balance of flavors then you usually use. You’ll have fun with it. I think the goose & turkey mix of bones/meat would be strong enough to use just about any veg you wanted to put with it. I’d be using tomatoes and “heat” (green chilis, a Serrano pepper), carrots, celery, onion, possibly black olives, a squash or some pumpkin, and some legumes–black beans, maybe. Not split peas, but only because I’m not that much a fan of split peas…they and lentils tend to “deaden” other flavors, to me. Oh, and mustard as one of the spices. But that’s just me.

  3. Happy New Year! And may 2022 bring you lots and lots of riding and fun with Rags.

    Your description of his Wanting His Supper Now made me smile, as I was reminded of occasions when my husband (the Swan Whisperer) took my parents’ current labrador for a walk too near their mealtime and found it well-nigh impossible to get them to go, or to keep up once they had decided it was food time! As they were working dogs first and pets second, they were only fed once a day (with token snacks at breakfast and bedtime), so it was quite important to them…..

    1. Well, the horses do get pellets (their “hard feed”) only once a day right now, since neither is working enough to need it more often. They get hay other times. And Rags was quite miffed to be asked to put up with (gasp!!!) 25 minutes late supper *just to carry a human around!!*

      I ended up not riding yesterday because I was exhausted from insufficient sleep two nights in a row (my own fault, but that pie had to be ready to take to the city on Friday morning! and the things I hadn’t finished on Friday had to be finished (and also, all the fireworks and guns going off to celebrate New Year’s Even/New Year’s kept me jittery.) I sat down changing into riding clothes and fell asleep, and decided that meant I shouldn’t ride but take a nap. Good decision, as it turned out, though the afternoon hours I missed *were* lovely–clouds blew away with a wind change, and though it was windy it was lovely (and almost time to feed again) when I woke up. I’ll catch up in time. Today is quite cold for us…was well below freezing last night…20F after almost 80 in the afternoon, and today the boys are expressing a need for more hay even though they haven’t finished their hay nets. They want it outside in the sun, where it’s warmer (not warm, but above freezing.)

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