The fleeting lucky days before winter's assault... I went out to the barn this morning with a friend visiting from out of state. The still air was soft with mist, the sky low and grey. It seemed a waste not to ride; I could count in my mind's eye the few remaining days like this.
We saddled Gambler and Scout, the only horses we had to ride. My friend is just learning horses, so I relied upon Gambler to take care of her. Saxony boards at another barn, so it would have to be Scout for me. My Scout, my little Red Death, the mare I don't ride anymore. I'd mostly crossed that bridge and not looked back, and hadn't been on her since early summer. K had been riding her since then, and she found keys to Scout that I never had. I experienced some of the changes in Scout as she stood quietly for the grooming and tack-up. No screaming, no stepping against the cross-ties, no wild eyes. That's the result of time under the hands of a rider whose confidences and fears are opposite those of Scout instead of exactly the same, like mine.
I just wanted to ride with my friend. There wasn't time to hoist my baggage up onto Scout. We led the horses to the grass arena, mounted and rode. It was peaceful, quiet, and immensely enjoyable. No matter all the things that I decided long ago are irreconcilable between me and Scout, there is always the familiarity that springs up between us. It was there today, along with something new. I wasn't tense on her. She spooked at some figment or other and I went with her instead of fighting her from my usual position of fearful lockdown. K's hard work with her has made her a better horse, a safer horse, and I could feel it. I also wasn't asking about any of that, though, while I rode. The anticipations I used to carry into every ride with Scout just weren't there. I think it's because of Saxony, I think it's because of Dar, I think it's because of barn chores, I think it's because of standing in the dark with an injured horse. A crust of experience has begun to accumulate after untold hours spent in the company of horses, and maybe my psychic skin just isn't as thin anymore.
My friend rode little Gambler all around the arena as I took Scout through some gymnastics, bending and stretching her through relaxed figures. I had to think when was it that I last rode her, but even then, it didn't matter. Ride the horse you have today. Today, for me, that horse was Scout. It was small, it was brief, it was simple, and I loved it.