Twas a fabulous day of riding for this Desperate Horsewife! But before I tell you about it, I need to introduce you to someone.
Meet Lucy. She's a four year old strawberry roan mare from Warm Springs HMA. For those of you who've been around here awhile, you'll remember Jet, the tall black mare that we had; she was also from Warm Springs.
I first met Lucy when she was a two year old at the Wild Horse Corrals in Oregon. She was a very striking young mare who'd foaled out a very cute red dun filly. Yes, two years old and having babies...such is life in the world of wild! Lucy would stay at the corrals until spring of her three year old year, when she was adopted by a gal in Southern Oregon.
Last fall, Lucy's adopter decided that the mare didn't quite meet her needs, and she started looking for a new home. She asked if I would take Lucy here. I'd just committed to taking Flirt, but...well...okay. Twist my arm! Besides, a friend of mine had really liked Lucy at the corrals and she was thinking it may be that Lucy would make her a nice trail horse.
Flash forward, and my friend has had rotator cuff surgery and isn't sure she can ride anything other than a dead broke horse right now. She asked if I'd take Lucy for a couple of weeks for a refresher course (Lucy had been ridden out on the trails before being sent up to us.) Of course I was more than happy to do that for my friend.
Sometimes life surprises us. Lucy is one of those surprises. She's got just enough 'feel good' in her to not really make her suitable for plunking down a trail without a care...at least not right now. What she has got, bless her long backed soul, is a solid, get your butt underneath you stop and a pretty decent turn around. And you know what that means, don't you???
I brought Lucy down to the Cowboy's so he could meet her. I asked if he'd take a look and tell me what he thought. I think he didn't think much, but he humored me. "Take her home and ride her, get her a little better broke. You need to have a little better control of her rib cage before we try to work you."
Okay. I can do that. And we did. We worked 5 out of 6 days, stopping, backing, turning. I'd do leg yields around the round pen, stopping and turning and going the other way. Always in my mind was 'keep her eye on the cow', a phrase I'd heard often enough while working Kitty. I pretended the round pen rail was the cow and kept Lucy's body supple and her nose toward our imaginary adversary.
This morning I hauled Lucy back to the Cowboy's arena. I saddled and warmed her up. He'd gone into the house, and I figured he didn't think we'd be ready to work. But I was. And so was Lucy. Or at least I hoped so! I tied up her reins on the saddle horn, leaving her in the arena while I went and knocked on the door. I was back in the saddle by the time he reached the arena.
Lucy and I began by doing some dry work along the wall, trotting down the rail, stopping, 'loading up' (which is what we call rocking back over the hocks), and turning. The Cowboy gave pointers, calling to me to 'get her ribcage', and after a few turns, he asked if I wanted to work the bull.
And we did. Lucy was a gem. She didn't really know that she was supposed to read the bull and do it on her own; none of them really does to start. But she tracked it well, keeping up with it, stopping and turning and moving that rib cage. When we were done, the Cowboy was wearing a smile.
"That surprise you a bit?"
I paused, then replied, "A little."
"A little? Surprised me a whole lot!" His smile was genuine as he climbed out of his bull. "I didn't expect that. You did a good job." And when he left the arena, the Cowboy wasn't the only one wearing a smile.