Curry Comb, Hard Brush, Soft Brush, Pick.
I’ve started riding again. With a few exceptions (like a snowy week in Wyoming one June), I have not been on a horse since just before we learned we were expecting our eldest, exactly fourteen years ago. Much has worn out since then.
In a chaotic life, an orderly barn is a treat. There’s a right way to groom a horse (curry comb first, hoof pick last), and a right way to blanket and saddle him. The bridle’s throatlatch sits a flat hand from his cheek, but the noseband about two fingers from his jaw. You tie him with a line clipped to his halter’s cheek ring, but lead him with a line clipped under his chin.
The straps on the saddle pad attach one way, but the straps on the blanket attach in another. Don’t jerk the girth tight when you first buckle it onto the billets, but be sure it is truly tight before you try to mount. There is a clearly right way to take every step, and with practice, despite fumbling, you can learn it. A patient teacher helps.
Meet Ghost, my morning ride. Ghost liked the circular curry-combing best, and, like any gentleman, he offered his hoof for picking with only the slightest nudging request from me. In the ring, however, he was more withholding. Turns out he prefers to cut corners at the trot. And when asked to turn on the forehand (to pivot his back end in a circle while holding his front end steady), he objected outright. I hardly blamed him: maybe he smelled my own secret desire to bolt out across the field beyond the ring, to skip the careful figure-eights and sitting trots for a real thundering charge past his grazing colleagues.
Driving home, I wondered if perhaps good lives might end just like this, with a long walk down a fragrant, nickering passageway . . .
under a benevolent eye.