After five years without a horse, and ten without serious riding, what has surprised me so far is the muscle memory.
Not for riding itself. I’m a dancer, I work on staying fit, and it really is like riding a bicycle. I rode Takota, the Barn Owner (BO)’s paint, and things like seat and legs really do come right back. It’s been about five years, I think, since I have been on a horse. Probably a little longer. It’s the memory of doing the other things that keeps surprising me. The first time I ducked under his neck while changing sides grooming, without thinking about things like how he has been “off the track” less than three weeks. That is how I always did it, with my old horse. I pick feet left front, right front, right hind, left hind. Cleaning tack I haven’t done in ages. I haven’t seen that saddle in years, besides the briefest look at my brother’s place last March. Sliding the irons up the leathers, wrapping them, tucking the girth in them, it felt exactly the same, without thinking.
My brother sent my old saddle up for me to use–thank goodness it does fit Lucky. If anything the girth might be a touch long–I may have to go down to a 56″. I would swear Lucky is taller than my old horse, unless I am simply misremembering. In his ad, Lucky was listed as 15.3, which would make him only an inch taller. When he came off the trailer, all of us there (BO, BO’s husband, their house guest, the hauler and her husband, the BO’s trainer) agreed that he was not 15.3 I have not had a chance to put a measuring stick to him, but the concensus is he would stick at, at minimum, sixteen and change.
So Lucky is everything I said I was not going to buy in my next horse. He’s an ex-racehorse of recent vintage, he’s tall, he is definitely not a bomb-proof packer.
I didn’t put the pest on his back. She was hanging on my shoulder and jumped on her own. He raised his head a little.
For reference: thoroughbreds at the track don’t cross-tie. Lucky’s last start was 11/5/2009. He left the track at Finger Lakes on 12/4/2009 and arrived at my barn the same day. This picture was taken 12/21/2009.