We chased the girls for a few minutes in the ring, then mounted up (so very not easy in layers of clothing) and hit the trail. Confession time: I was a bit nervous about the Hill. I know y’all who ride at Argus gallop up it like mad things, but I’ve not ridden since last June. I’m not fit. (side note: in Kelly thought, my not being 100% perfect immediately means I’m not so much as passable. Being out of shape = having lost any and all skill. Yes, I am a dork.) C. led the way, letting Shadow have her head. About two seconds later, I decided nothing would do but that we catch up. I urged Leah on, shouting encouragement and leaning closer to her neck. Suddenly, I was ten years old again, riding bareback with nothing but a halter and lead ropes to steer. It was glorious.
Until we turned back to race the other way (trying to work some of the feisty out of Shadow; she wanted none of walking down the next hill) and I noticed something that seemed out of place in the snowy field. “Isn’t that my saddle pad?” I looked down to see the quarter sheet edging out from beneath the edge of my saddle. The pad was, indeed, on the ground in front of me. The wither pad was nowhere to be seen. So much for the girth being tight enough. I dismounted and looped the reins around my arms before unbuckling the girth. I placed the saddle on the ground as C. rode around, trying to find the white whither pad against the white snow. I placed the pad on Leah’s back as she spun away, dropping her head to the dried grasses that poked up through the patchy snow. I managed to get the pad into place, then tossed the quarter sheet over that. The wind tossed it back. I adjusted it again. The wind lifted it over her back and over my head and one shoulder. All this time, I working with a horse who was having none of standing still for more than a moment at a time. Keep in mind, too, that we were on top of a hill in an open field. On a very cold day. The wind just made it all that much more special. My fingers were nearly numb (for I couldn’t do all of this with my gloves on) by the time I managed to get the saddle on over the pad and sheet. As I did up the girth as high as I could on both sides, I heard C. call, “I found the wither pad!”
Good news: wither pad located.
Bad news: wither pad had to be put back on.
“Epona is punishing you for having stayed away too long,” C. noted, and I could not disagree.
I loosened the girth and slid the pad beneath. After considerable adjustment and lots more dancing about by my
As we rode back, we passed Oso’s paddock. He stood at an enormous wheel of hay (Oso + hay wheel = BFF!!!). I called out a hello. His head snapped up and around. He stared at us as we rode by. I could hear even from a distance. “Rider?” *blink* *blink* “Uh, Rider... what gives?” He watched until we were nearly past the adjoining paddock, then turned back to his hay. “Don’t judge me. I’m an emotional eater.”
Despite the cold and the wind and my
After we’d untacked and groomed and re-blanketed, I helped clean stalls and dump manure and fill water buckets. I might not have gone to kickboxing that morning, but I certainly got a workout. My thighs are feeling it, as are my shoulders and arms. To which I say: yay! I can’t wait to go again.