I am leaving for Saratoga tomorrow with Tica and was hoping to have a quiet, or rather, a reasonably quiet week; didn't happen. My broken arm is still healing--i.e., sore--and just two days ago I managed to dislocate a finger on the hand that belongs to aforementioned broken arm. But let me backtrack.
Here at Windflower we are fortunate in that we abut two hundred acres of conservation and private land that permits horse access. We are also fortunate that surprisingly few people use it. And so--as part of our horses' training and before they are mounted--we take them out on a lead and pony them. They get accustomed to the trails without having the added burden or anxiety of a rider. They learn to negotiate bridges, streams, stone walls, and logs. It's a great help to them both physically and mentally, not to mention, just plain fun for them. Sometimes, if its miserable weather, and we're pretty much guaranteed not to run into hikers we will just let them follow loose behind.
But, before this happens, we ensure that the free horse is bonded to the horse being ridden. They are turned out together for a good two weeks. In the wild it is the mare who controls when and where the herd moves, and since I have mostly mares, it seemed natural to adapt this to our trail riding. I've done this with geldings but only with mixed success. They are less committed to a mare's leadership. It's not because they are guys--a stallion would absolutely follow the mares. I think it's just that geldings--for obvious reasons--are less wedded (couldn't resist) to the importance of preserving the integrity and future of the herd.
So these past two weeks Dolly has been busy bonding with Tica, my Andalusian and four year old Elementa, my half-Andalusian. We thought it would be great for Dolly to get out on the trail: She hasn't been off the farm since she got here and has been doing a lot of good groundwork and is wonderfully obedient in-hand. So Juliane got aboard Elementa while I led Tica on foot so I could take some photos. It soon became clear that I would get better pictures if I didn't have to hang on to Tica. Juliane decided to lead her while still riding Elemta. But Elementa was a bit full of herself so after a while we decided to let Tica loose as well. After all, Dolly was subordinate to both horses, so why not?
Why not?! Because Tica dominates them both and there was rider aboard to govern her. Things went well for awhile, that is until Tica saw the golf course and it's unending invitation of green grass.
This is how the conversation would have gone if Tica and Dolly were human:
Tica: "Hey, Dolly, you know I'm the true herd leader here: Let me show you how I earned the title. Follow me over this inconsequential stone wall and you'll not only lose the rocky footing and meddlesome mosquitoes, but have access to the best grass you've ever had in your life."
Dolly: "Wow, and I thought Windflower's grass was good. But this--!!!
Exit Tica and Dolly stage left over stone wall.
I know, I should have gone after them instead of taking a picture but that might have gotten them running and there was no one there anyway because of the weather. So Juliane rode along this little paved road you see in the above photos and they gradually followed: But not before checking out several fragile, expensive, and, no doubt, exceptionally tasty putting greens:
I must spend some part of this evening with my husband and daughter so I'm afraid I won't get to the broken finger this blog. Details of that will have to wait until next week. But I will tell you that I have had to cut the middle finger off of the right hand of my white gloves in order to accommodate my splint. It is therefore regrettably unavoidable that during my dressage tests it will appear as if I am in a constant state of "flipping the bird." I'm hoping that the purple vet wrap--much prettier and cheaper than the skin-colored
drugstore equivalent--will inform the judges that I intend no
Papa Cardinal Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2011
Our cats are still under house arrest. They got out once and managed to take down a poor little baby robin. We are being super-vigilant, and there will be no parole until this cardinal papa and his babies are out of danger.
Two cardinal babies Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2011
Not a hint of the beautiful red feathers to come, but they are in their own homely way somehow endearing.
I haven't seen the fox family for a while but my friends have and fear that the number of kits has been sharply reduced. No more than two have been seen out of the original six. I'll get back there next week and try to get a head count. I hope it will be closer to six than two.
I will be back from Saratoga late Sunday night so I hope to have my next blog out by next Monday evening.
Until then, and thank you for reading The Windflower Weekly.