So, Duke's 30 day stall rest period is nearly over. For the past month I've been counting down the days...June 21, the day we ride again. That's exactly 30 days. Duke's been doing so well, he's ready, I'm ready and the time is near. I've told everyone...June 21, we ride again. At night I have drifted off to sleep dreaming about it. Saturday...Saturday...Saturday. Then this morning I thought today is a good day to saddle him, ease him back into the routine. And see if my shoulder would handle hauling my 28 pound saddle onto his back. Today after work, and physical therapy, I headed down to visit Duke.
I'd like to say I got the saddle on Duke the first time, but I can't. It took two tries. But I did it.
He looks so good tacked up!
My saddle is a Fallis Balanced Ride built in 1961; I found it on-line in a saddle shop in Iowa. It's a little different than most western saddles, and has the brand M-7 (M Bar 7) carved into the cantle. I've often wondered what stories this saddle could tell. Did it belong to a cowboy working a ranch? Or is the carving from something else? Who knows...and while it's history may be interesting the best thing about the saddle is, it's mine.
Now the plan was to take Duke for a walk and just let him get used to having a saddle on his back again. And after a little work out, I had a thought, and went for it. I climbed up and went for a short sweet ride. It was very short ride, as I only had his halter and lead rope on, but it felt so good to just do it. He was ready, I was ready and I thought, why not. Could I, would I?
And I can't wait for tomorrow.
I'll say one thing. The 30 days we had just hanging around, spending undemanding time on theground paid off. In the beginning it was a little rocky, he tested me as all horses do. He thinks he's the leader, and he's got all the other horses cow-towing to him. And that's fine, but in our relationship there can only be one leader...me. Duke is teaching me so much, about him, the nature of horses, and even myself. He now trusts me, completely, if he didn't trust me or feel safe he would never roll around on the ground in my presence. Horses, being prey animals, are not so trusting of humans, being predators (yes, we are in the eyes of a horse). So I've learned that if a horse is willing to expose his soft underside to you, take it as a good sign, and a complement.
Yesterday during our little walk I turned him loose in one of the round pens and then began to initiate some play with him in the pen. I'd done this before, from the safety outside the pen, but yesterday I decided to stay in with him. And play he did! I cavorted around the pen while he stood watching me like I was some idiot, and then he got that spark, trotted away from me, and kicked up his heels when he'd reached the opposite side of the pen. From there he trotted around the pen, following the edge of the panels while I stood in the center, watching. Then he stopped, turned toward me and slowly walked to me and softly rested his face on my belly. What a horse! He has my heart that Duke does, and I believe it goes both ways.