Well, technically this was my inaugural ride:
(Two butts in the saddle, always better than one.)
But after the babies left husband and I saddled up the sorrels and took off over the greening landscape to really test things out.
Really, my first ride of the spring should have happened a month or two ago, but given unpredictable weather, skies spitting snow and writing deadlines the horses got to stay out to pasture for a few extra weeks.
I like to think they were itching to go too, but their big bellies and lazy attitudes gave me the impression they were just fine with procrastinating the inevitable.
Ahh, the first ride. It’s something we wait for all winter long as the snow drifts pile up at our door. We try to remember it ever being green. We talk about all of the work we will get done when it thaws. We can’t wait to rummage through the tack, brush the winter hair off the horses and slip the them some grain to coax them in and see which one has the most spunk and, you know, who might hit the ground for lack of practice in both human and beast.
But no matter the months it seems to come back easy every year. The cinch gets tightened, the horse grunts and swings his head around, I pull up my pants, put my toe in the stirrup and launch my butt into position.
Deep breath in, I give my ride a bit of a kick to ease him out of the barnyard. This time around it took a bit of convincing, but soon we were off, right behind husband who has been oiling and training the stirrups of his saddle in the basement of the house all winter. Finally he got to test it out.
Finally he got to climb to the top of that hill and feel the breeze on his skin, smell the sweet grass, feel the sway of the horse’s back beneath him, test out a trot and then a lope along old cow trails and through the clay buttes…
down the draws to his last elk spotting, just past a bull snake basking himself in the sun, quick to escape to the nearest gopher hole.
Finally I was able to relax and fall in line with the rhythm of my horse’s pace, feel the sun on my shoulders…
be reminded of how the land rises and falls when the weight of winter has been lifted, take in the view of the most handsome man…
smell the sweet sweat of my favorite animal, hollar at the dogs who follow too close and be exactly where I wanted to be.
Yes, no matter what we say during the winter months, the promises we make to ourselves to get the work done, to check the fences and cut trails, the first ride of the season is nothing but a meandering, soul rejuvenating, deep breath in, unpredictable, blissed-out therapy session with just a little edge, you know, because of that hitting the ground thing.
The first ride–a necessity for sanity and a sweet, sweet success (and I am happy to report no butts met the ground this time around).
Such a success that nobody here gave a second thought to picking ticks off our jeans the rest of the night.
Wish you were there with me. I promise you wouldn’t have had issues with the ticks…or the snake. That’s just how heavenly it was.
Ah well, maybe next time.
Until then, go find your blissed-out place, you know, the one that confirms a change in season, and bask in it…