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It's a Big World Out There

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Even though the weatherman said "zero percent chance of rain", we didn't believe him. The skies were black and threatening. We saddled up anyway, and zipped into our rain gear. Arizona Mac V, (Ames Perfection x Major Mac V) just turned three in March. He is pretty worldly for his age. We brought him to Idaho two years ago as a yearling and ponied him around a little bit. His training began last winter with Jaime and Mike at Varian Arabians. These guys are so good at teaching the horse respect without fear. Arizona is very confident that the world is a happy place. He spent last month in Walla Walla, and now we are here in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Our first ride out, we picked a nice long flat ride, with a couple of easy water crossings. Arizona had Roy, his best friend, for company. Roy is a big yellow gelding, quiet as a mouse, big as a mountain. In silence we rode out toward the high peaks, dusted with fresh snow, to the east of us. The world was silent other than the sound of the creek beside us. At the water crossing, Arizona hesitated, but as Roy calmly walked by him and into the water, and with a little wiggle of my heels (no spurs) he stepped right in like a big boy. My theory for getting a horse nice and quiet in the mountains, is to have a whole lot of nothing go on, interspersed with little bits of somethings. Pretty soon the somethings become nothings.

The next day we met up at a friend's house. She has a very quiet little buckskin that I felt would behave very well for us. About 1/2 mile from Carol's back gate, Fox Creek gurgles through the meadow, well hidden in the tall green grass. Arizona has a very good walk and is happiest out in front. When we got to the creek, he stopped, sniffed, and was a little doubtful that this was a safe thing to do. Roy walked by him and stepped over the creek. (The little creeks are harder for a young horse than the big wide ones). Arizona still hesitated. Twice more, Roy came back, circled around his behind and walked over the creek again. Each time, Arizona believed that it was a little more possible for him to do this, and the third time he made a tiny little hop and we were across it, no big deal. From there, we rode up along the trail, then turned left and headed up toward Red Robin Woods and then up a long climb to a high point, where you can see for miles. We stopped to enjoy the breathtaking view for a few minutes, Arizona's eyes scanning the big world, then followed a rocky trail down a steep hill. Arizona grew up on "colt hill" at Varian Arabians, and like I said, he'd been ponied around a little bit up here when he was a yearling, so hills are not something new, but with a saddle and a rider on his back, it's much more complicated. I did my best to try to help him round out his little body, to tuck his bottom underneath him. He'd get it for a few steps and go softly down the hill, then he'd loose it and he'd flounce and hurry and bump into Roy's behind. It was not pretty, Back at the creek, his first attempt to cross was a rather large leap, so we had to do it again, but only once more in each direction. His last crossing was about as perfect as I could have asked, he stepped nice and easy, no big deal. He's darn smart, this boy. At the end of the ride, as we were crossing Carol's big pasture, a bird blasted out from under his feet. It must have been a ground nesting bird, hopefully we didn't break any eggs. Arizona spooked, in an instant we were four feet to our left, but that was it, just a spook, once it was done, he was over it. "Whew!" he said to me... "that little bird surprised the heck out of me!"

Yesterday, we decided to ride up the canyon behind our house, just David and I. It's a long narrow canyon with no water, but it's thick with brush and sometimes there's downfall. It's a long slow climb up and a long slow downill back. Both horses got a good sweat going as we walked, side by side, up and up. Turning a corner, we found where the sheep had been a few days earlier. Even I could smell that the sheep had been there, and that's after a bit of rain, so I'm sure it was pretty pungent for the horses. Arizona dropped his head, smelling the ground, curiously, and then looked at the steep hillsides where the sheep had nibbled down the grass before they moved on. I watched his ears as he thought this over. I gave his rump a little pat. "Good Boy," I told him. When we turned around to go home, he stayed quiet and steady, and as the steepness varied, got his body put together nicely so it was comfortable for him. I left his reins loose, and used my body to tell him to round out. This was much easier for him to put together on a milder downhill. As we headed back to our house, I petted his neck. "He sure is a contented little guy" I said to David. David chuckled. He chuckles every time I gush over this horse, but hey! I just can't help myself. It's so fun to take this journey with him and see with each ride, how he learns, how he accepts the world he lives in.

After each ride, we come home and have a little grass party. It's not a bad life. Not bad at all.



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Saturday, 21 July 2018
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