February 10, 2018

February 10, 2018

The moment I walked into Willis’ paddock the cold front blew in.  Willis was standing in his shelter looking at me while his paddock mate, T.J., was busy munching on whatever hay he could find near the now-depleted round bale.  Usually Willis walks toward me, but he just stood there, without offering to move.  He knew the front was coming in.  Now.

I haltered him and led him out of the paddock wondering how I would stay warm riding in only a long-sleeved shirt and hoodie.  We were stuck.  Both of us.  Lucky for me someone had left behind a nice lightweight but warm jacket which I immediately grabbed and put on.  Stacie even complimented me on my “new” jacket – “It fits you perfectly!”.

Tacking up I wondered how long I could tolerate the cold wind blowing in and how much we could accomplish in a short time.  After my most recent “worst ride ever,” Stacie rode Willis in a training ride while  I watched, trying to pick up as much as I could from her subtle moves. Stacie warms Willis up at the walk, slowly working out his resistance.  He corrects with a soft correction (good!), but still tries to get away with not working.  I watched her pull him up when he wasn’t paying attention or ignoring her cues.  Some of it was difficult for me to figure out, she seems to ride him so effortlessly, without spurs or even a crop.  After Stacie rode Willis, I got on and we had the best canter in a long, long time.  It felt so light and we just kept going and going and going.

So, Willis and I went out to the grass arena and tried to duplicate that experience.  We walked and bended and trotted and finally cantered.  The temperature dropped quickly as we rode, cold wind biting our faces.  I turned Willis out to graze and brought T.J. in to blanket him.  I wasn’t planning on blanketing until Stacie mentioned it was cold enough, but it’s a good thing I did.  This morning it was 30 degrees and showers of ice bounced off streets and walks.

There is still no sign of gold finches, but cardinals, woodpeckers, blue jays, house finches, and chickadees feed daily on sunflower seed.  The owl peeks out of his box each evening as it gets dark, waiting for his mate.  I wait, too. 

Christine Baleshta


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