Having been out of the saddle for the past couple of weeks due to torrential downpours, out-of-town trips and soul-sucking mud, tacking Gabe up tonight was a whole lot like standing in line waiting for my turn to ride the biggest, fastest, most heart-pounding roller coaster ever made.
Yes, there were butterflies. But not the BAD butterflies, the good ones. The ones that bang around in your belly in unveiled anticipation and excitement.
I was ready to ride my big, silly boy, no matter what he threw at me. I flung a leg over his back, settled quietly in the saddle and waited. Typically, if he's going to put on his bad boy pants and have a little fun at my expense, it starts at the mounting block with a squeal, a hop and a head fling and he bounces away from the block.
So, I waited.
And waited some more. Then a little more.
And heaved a giant sigh, releasing all those excited little butterflies as I nudged him into a walk and he immediately complied. His head dropped, the neck stretched and he exhaled heavily, seconds after I did, tipping an ear back to me as if to ask "All right, what now? I'm ready! Let's get to it."
We nailed the trot to halts, halts to trot, from rein back directly lifting in trot, beautiful. He really gave and stretched in the circles stepping far far far under himself with his back end. We floated around the arena...oh my. What a TROT! It's exhausting because it's so POWERFUL, but it's so delightful to ride. You can't help but swell with pride and grin like an idiot as you cruise around on a horse with a trot like that. We extended and collected the walk by seat only. Yes, I threw away the reins for more than a few moments at a time and trusted him to not take advantage. We side passed left, side passed right. Halted square, cantered both directions and completed one very decent simple lead change across the center line. We did a turn on haunches and several quite correct shoulder ins.
Our canter departs need work. But after all we accomplished today? That's small stuff.
I have a strong feeling we would do quite admirably at a dressage show this summer should we make it to one.
He twitched an ear in the direction of Chief and Calypso when they decided to take off hell-bent-for-leather, bucking and kicking at each other in the pasture next to the arena. Nothing but an ear wiggle towards them was all he gave. I could have hugged his guts out.
Every time I ride he surprises me and I fall even more head over heels for him. Because not only does he have the beauty and brawn, but dangit, I lucked out and got one with brains too!