|I love this view. :)|
Anywhoooo, the Boy and I scooted down to the barn early Sunday morning to get some quality time with the ponies in before Soph's early afternoon soccer game. We stuffed Sugar full of carrots and Happy Mother's Day wishes. The Sainted Mare is winning in the offspring category - she has had 3 babies that we know of, so she's one up on me.
We decided it would be fun and relaxing to take the horses on a trail ride, and I shamelessly pulled the Mother's Day card and asked the Boy if I could ride James. I did this because it's been a while since I've ridden James, and also because I wanted to go on a long ride, if possible, and didn't know if James' Thoroughbred sensibilities would kick in and prove too challenging for Noah. (Once a Mom, always a Mom, right?)
Luckily, while we were tacking up, we ran into a fellow boarder and one of the event trainers at our barn, who were planning on heading out to Christie Hoffman Park. They graciously allowed us to tag along, and sweet pink and red jelly beans, did we ever have fun! The park is something like 170 acres of hiking and riding trails, and comes equipped with cross-country jumps. I have been dying to get out there for ages, and it seemed serendipitous that it happened on this particular day.
The Sainted Mare was very happy Mama indeed, smiling with equine joy in her happiness to be out and about. She swiveled her head from side to side, taking it all in and blowing out in relaxed approval for her surroundings. I could tell she was also in Mom-mode, as her ears constantly flicked back to check in on "her" boy and she made visible adjustments to compensate for any balance changes on his part. She walked readily through the river for Noah, which would have been a 20 minute discussion about the detrimental effects of river water on pony pedicures had I been on her back.
James was also being kind to me, in his way. As the ranking Thoroughbred in our little herd, he clearly felt the need to be in front, and he clearly felt the need to be in front at speed. He could have taken me on a full-speed tour of the park had he so desired, or parted ways with me and left me to enjoys the park's beauty on foot, but he reined his instincts in and didn't, bless his heart.
|An earlier trail ride, |
with a relaxed James.
When we got to the river, the other three horses plunged through, including my notoriously aqua-phobic mare. James protested, citing alligators, trolls and piranhas, and we discussed the mater for a good 20 minutes. He clearly wanted to join his friends, but was visibly scared, going forward and backing up and wanting to hop up and down but remembering his manners and keeping his piggies on the ground. Virginia and I tried using her horse as lead pony to entice James across. He hemmed and hawed, stopped and started, and finally gave in and frog-leaped across the river. Virginia tells me our faces were priceless, mouths wide open and eyes all goggled, and that she wishes she had thought to bring with her camera.
After our victory over the Big Bad River, James and I were on a high for the rest of the ride, and I swear he seemed to relax and grow in confidence. We trotted some more, without the high drama and haute ecole of our earlier attempts. We even went back through the river, with only a five minute discussion about potential risks and hazards. Virginia told me that this time his feet actually touched the water. Couldn't prove it by me, but I'm willing to take her word on it. I was impressed with our efforts that I suggested a trot through one of the fields close to home. "That might be ambitious," were Virginia's words of caution.
That Virginia is a prophet, I tell you! James knew he was close to the finish line, and off he went, trot be damned. His head was up, it was down, his butt was up, then it was down, and I think what we were doing was called the Antzy Thoroughbred Canter. He desperately wanted to run, but knew he shouldn't because the nice lady on his back would not be able to stay on, and so he did this stilted "I wanna run but I gotta canter but I wanna run" thing that had me laughing and cussing him out the whole length of the field. Virginia laughed and said it was a good thing he was 14 and had matured, as I probably would not have been able to stick with an 8-year-old James. No kidding!
After all the barn fun we watched Soph and her soccer team dominate a side that had controlled them just six months ago, and my girl scored two goals, one off of her left foot. She dedicated one goal to me, and the other to her Grandma, who was also in attendance. Later in the afternoon, I took in the jump-off from the Old Salem Farm Grand Prix.
It was a darn fine day. :)
|Gratuitious cute pic of a dirty James bonding with Sophie.|