We were both a bit nervous. Winston hasn't been worked since I started my new job at the end of April. Sure, I came home on the weekends but on May 11th he bucked me off as I was getting ready to start a lesson. By the time my lumbar sprain healed, we were in the midst of selling Aspen Meadows and packing. I haven't ridden him since. I was 80% excited and 20% anxious. What if he bucked? What if my abs were non-existent post surgery? To ride Winston, you need a strong core. He requires a balanced, centered rider who gives clear -- but feather light -- aids. Could I be there for him?
Brett said he was 30-40% nervous. He and Mufasa were still in the "getting to know you" phase of their partnership when Mufasa scooted sideways, which resulted in Brett lurching sideways, and his sciatic was toast. I think, too, Brett remembers Flash in the early days of their relationship. Flash was a handful. And that's an understatement.
We tacked up the horses and took them over to the mounting block which Brett has set up outside the round pen, near the small arena.
Winston walked right up to the mounting block and stood quietly while I mounted. We walked a few feet forward to wait while Brett mounted Mufasa. Winston wasn't too pleased with waiting and, for a moment, I felt his energy coiling underneath me. I sat back and I sat deep, engaging the little bit of ab strength I have. He decided to settle. Mufasa was calm at the mounting block while Brett gathered the reins, took a deep breath, and swung onto his back. We walked out to the dressage court.
The donkey pasture is on the right going into the dressage court. Tuffy and Finessa charged up to the fence and watched intently. Periodically, Tuffy would race in a completely unbalanced circle and then come back to the fence.
Flash and Jackson stood at the gate to the oak pasture and watched as well. It was already warm out so our plan was to walk the horses around the arena a few times and call it good. Winston was gold; attentive, responsive and obedient. I could feel his back lifting me up and he was butter bending around my leg. He wasn't perfect -- his trot was a bit rushed and on the forehand at first -- but it felt pretty darn perfect to me. After a few half-halts and 20m circles, Winston found his balance and we had a lovely floating trot.
I praised him and we walked into the shade of a large oak tree to wait for Brett and Mufasa to finish. Brett not only did some trot work, he and Mufasa threw in a couple laps at canter. All four of us were grinning through our sweat. We walked the horses down the driveway and over to the dirt road that winds behind our little ranch.
Winston and Mufasa were mellow when we put them back in the oak pasture. They immediately took a good, long drink from the trough. Winston stood with his eyes at half mast, his lower lip slack, and his ears flopping sideways.
We hit 100F this afternoon. The horses have lots of shade in the oak pasture. While we went up the road to a wine lunch at Holly's Hill, the hoses dozed.
I think Brett and Mufasa have a long happy partnership ahead of them. Mufasa is a very kind, sensible horse. He has the kindest eyes I have ever seen.