I took my horse for a hack around the fields yesterday. We've been getting a lot of rain lately and yesterday we had a mix of sun and cloud for part of the day. I had just brought him in to groom and feed, but once he was clean I couldn't resist hopping aboard and going for a meander around the property.
We're past the formality of saddle and bridle these days. I throw a thick saddle blanket on his back to cushion his spine (and my butt!) and tie the end of the lead rope round to form reins and off we go. He's more than happy with the arrangement as he can grab mouthfuls of alfalfa as we wander around the hayfields. For the most part he's good about waiting for me to invite him to nibble, but he's an opportunist too and looks for those moments when I'm distracted to make a dive for that particularly delicious looking stalk of alfalfa.
I did ask him to go for a little trot, okay - more of a jog these days. Sadly he's feeling sore, and was a little bit lame at the trot. But he didn't mind walking - and munching - his way around the property. I can really feel the changes in his movement and body carriage when I ride him now. It's kind of sad - I still remember when he was in his prime, muscled up and fit. He was an impressive chunk of a horse then and got lots of compliments from strangers at horse shows.
Today I stood in the hayfield for over an hour with him and watched him mow a strip through the nice green growth. He barely lifted his nose above grass level in all that time. As I stood there with him I remembered standing like that with him in other times and places. One of the best memories is of ten days we spent onsite at a national show. There was a warmup ring out back where many people warmed up, or had lessons or training sessions on their non-showing days. We spent many hours out there with him grazing and me watching the riders. We were out so much he was content to snooze when I finally did take him back to his stall in the tent.
I'm finding it a relief to have the vet appointment set. Now I don't have to think about it, and I'm free to enjoy my time with him and remember the good times we've had along this long journey together - even as I create a few new ones to hold for the coming days.