"Horses require us to work, whether in caring for them or working with them. In an era when immediate gratification and the 'easy way' are the norm, horses require people to be engaged in physical and mental work to be successful, a valuable lesson in all aspects of life." - Tina Outlaw-Kennet, Outlaw's Vision Quest Farm
The last stables I worked at needed me to assist one of their riding instructors for a semester. I showed up at 9am on a Saturday and the horses were already groomed and saddled up; I assisted with two 90-minute sessions of theory and practice. Then I could ride for a half hour and leave. The horses would stay saddled for one more afternoon session. I never did that job again after that semester. I now know that I prefer to be a part of the grooming-tacking-untacking-cooldown process. I believe it is an essential component of horse and rider bonding.
As I groomed Sportie this morning, I loved the way he stretched his neck out as I brushed just behind his ears with the curry. I am always watching him for cues of what he likes and dislikes. When I see his eyes close and his lips barely open, I know "There! That's the spot!!!" As I hum and brush out his gorgeous tail it reminds me of when my daughter was little and I would brush her beautiful hair out before bedtime as we shared stories of our day.
As I tacked up, I made sure the saddle pad was situated in the most comfortable place on his withers, all the saddle pieces were lying flat and there was no skin pinched underneath the cinch strap. And I never forget to fly spray. It's the little things that matter.
The ride is just the icing on the cake in is my mornings with Sportie.
As I untacked, I made sure the bridle didn't yank on his ears nor the bit clang on his teeth. I gently hosed him down and squeegeed him off. Then, as I hooflexed his hooves, he let out the same deep breath as I do when I soak my feet after a run. And of course, he gets a good back scratch and an apple for standing still the whole time.
Sportie makes me feel great every morning I get to ride him. I want to do whatever I can to make him feel great too.
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