I've been riding, well, when I can. This means weekends and days off, early in the morning, as soon as it's light enough to see, I'm outside catching, grooming, and starting. The evening temperatures have brought heat indeces >100F. While I love to ride, I don't need sick horses. It's been a downer of a summer. Need rain, need moisture, need cooler temperatures. This is the hottest, and the driest, it's been the whole time I've lived here. *blech* If you're outside of this stupid High Pressure system, and enjoyed any precipitation, be thankful. Don't fuss about the puddles, or the mud. You're better than us. Hay prices have soared, and the grain I feed even increased nearly $2 a bag. Grr.
Harley's education has slowed to a crawl. I give him a longe day with a short ride, focusing only on giving/bending at walk & trot. His canter time has increased, though I'm still fighting that left lead. Still, when he is in the correct lead, we're cantering about 2/3 of the arena (avoiding the taller weeds), and staying in the gait for at least three trips around. It struck me pretty awesome to be out there, cantering in a light 2-point seat, reins flapping about, just as the sunlight makes shadows from the trees. Harley is entirely unflapped by the morning wildlife movement, just cantering around, like he's been doing it his whole life.
This past weekend, we suffered a fatality where I work. No one I knew well, but had heard of. Experienced fellow, and a tragic accident. It leaves me feeling like I should "fix it", improve the system so that just can't happen again. In the midst of that, I've tried my best to serve as an ear and a shoulder to my colleagues more affected by it. I have a few coworkers on "friend watch", checking in at least once a day, conversating with them, and checking their emotional "radar". The historical stories I've heard nearly bring me to tears. "When I heard that call for an ambulance on the radio, it was the same frantic tone I heard years ago, just a different voice."
Monday night, with all of that looming in my mind, the gruesome details of the event haunting me, I went outside and grabbed Harley. "You're going to need to be Mo tonight, Little Man." I put the bit in his mouth, the bareback pad tightened down, and I hopped on. We walked. And that was it. Arena gate wide open, pasture gate closed, we walked. I let him go anywhere he wanted. He knew... Harley understood just what I needed, as he plodded about, never leaving the back 2/3 of the arena. He stayed out of the sandy dust, he never took a bad step. Just walked around. When I tried to back him up, he twisted his head and neck, almost saying, "Mom, this isn't a work day, so don't make it into one." I got one step, and halted. I laid over his back, scratching his chest, my face leaning over his neck, and lower legs stretched over his butt. Harley didn't move, licking and chewing, soaking up the moment.
Ultimately grateful that little grey fellow landed in my life, and in my pasture. Not every day will be that terrific, but when I needed quiet and peace and a plod, he was exactly that. Thanks Harley.