And mucking out stalls, feeding critters rain or shine, and riding. Several months ago, the woman who owns the property where I am living, mentioned to me that the two Arabians she owns had not been ridden in several years due to her health issues, and if I wanted to exercise them in the round pen a few times a week over the next few months she would allow me to climb aboard and ride when her new boarder came out to ride her quarter horse on the trails in the area.
Well, actually, I’m here for the peace and quiet; getting up on a spirited Arabian or two never entered my mind (bull, of course it’s entered my mind; we’re talking about two gorgeous, intelligent, very spirited animals), but since I’m here, and feeding them and cleaning out a stall or two, I might as well get some enjoyment out of them.
Please do keep in mind that I said these horses are intelligent, and spirited. And that they had not been ridden in a few years. And while I have been feeding them, that’s only a very small part of building a working relationship with a horse.
It’s in the round pen, on a lunge line, that you begin to educate both yourself and the horse about who’s the boss; who gets to say “Go”, and “Stop”, and “Back”, and “Whoa”, and who does the going (and how fast, of course), and stopping, and backing up, and so on. If you do it right, t’s a learning experience for both of you. If you do it wrong, you fall off a lot, and get hurt, and the horse becomes convinced he was right all along about not wanting anyone on his back, ever again.
And you have to do this a few times a week, and just hang out with the horse on a lead line a few times a week and walk around with him while he grazes on some nice, fresh grass. Because familiarity, and trust, can only build over time. And horses like fresh grass.
These photos of me and Ebony show a bit of that work in the round pen. It’s not the best environment; an arena is better, and there is one in the area I’ll be using a bit later in the year. But for now, it’s plenty good enough to build a level of familiarity between me and Ebony so we can trust one another on short trail rides.
I did bring my camera on the last ride, but never had much opportunity to take photos, sad to say. But we’ll be going out again on Sunday, weather permitting, and I’ll bring the camera along.
In the meantime, my work on “Standing Wave”, the fifth Terry Rankin novel, is moving along. I hope to post the first three chapters in PDF format on my web site in the next month. The writing is well beyond Chapter 3; have no fear of that, but I did not want to release the first three chapters if I was going to do any rewriting due to something that occurs in a later chapter. I’m past that now, though.
The audio book version of “Hog Valley” is about halfway through the narration; I just approved Chapter 14, and should be receiving Chapter 15 in the next day or so. My goal is to see it available for sale in mid-November.
That’s about it for now.