Riding Before the Storm


Yesterday was a day off school, and Morgan announced she wanted to go riding. Volleyball + Morgan = no riding. By the time Morgan was getting home on weeknights, it was nearly dark and as the season wore on, dark. Volleyball often involves tournaments on weekends, too, and if not, she was just trying to catch up on her homework. Morgan hasn’t ridden Zip in two months. Volleyball has ended now, and I was so glad when she said she wanted to ride! Though also worried about whether or not Zip would behave. After all, she hasn’t been paying any attention to Zip for two months. And a storm was in the forecast. We needed to get going if we were going to do it.

Catching Shortcake proved to be no problem. This isn’t because Shortcake holds out her hooves for the handcuffs, but we’ve gotten better at managing her. Move the “little people” (goats and sheep) out of the way, open the pasture gates, and let ‘er sail in. Morgan saddled up first so she’d have more time to work with Zip before climbing aboard. I saddled up Shortcake. I’m still in the stage where I’m impressed with my own ability to saddle a horse, an achievement in and of itself, which makes a good start. I still feel like I’m taking a test every time, but I can do it, even if I do it rather slowly and methodically.

We set off from the front barn yard to the goat yard. With open gates, we can ride from the front barn yard to the goat yard and on out to the sheep field and through to the upper pasture. This is a ride that carries us within fencing, which still makes me feel a little more secure than when I take Shortcake outside the fences to the other pastures or out the road. Since Morgan hadn’t ridden for awhile, I didn’t want to do anything too challenging.

Shortcake was her usual self–I have to remind her periodically to slow down or to stay stopped when I’ve told her to stop. She has a lot of get-up-and-go and can be impatient, but she is also obedient, and mostly I have to monitor my own nervousness and remind myself to be in charge. I’m always nervous the first several minutes, then I calm down. Shortcake is well-behaved, and it’s hard to stay nervous on her for long. It’s not her that truly makes me nervous–it’s me. I’m still a very green rider, and thank goodness for Shortcake. She offers me just enough challenge with her energy to teach me something–but not too much. Perfect.

I’d been a little worried about Zip, whether she’d be extra antsy after not being ridden for so long, but she was calm as could be. Morgan, on the other hand, was having all kinds of trouble. Morgan is a much more experienced rider than I am, but she has a mental block about English reining. She was trained Western, for years. She has been taught English, but her mind can’t seem to wrap around it sometimes. I only know English reining, and Shortcake only knows English reining, so we’re good. Zip only knows English reining, too, so she and Morgan can’t communicate when Morgan neck reins.

We rode through to the sheep field and talked about going on out, up the creekbed and up the horse path to the upper pasture. Morgan wanted to practice around the sheep field some more.

I took Shortcake on a wide circle around, turned back, and Morgan had disappeared! I spotted her back at the barn. That fast!

Shortcake and I went to see what was what, and Morgan told me she was having trouble directing her. She couldn’t get her reining right, and her attempts to neck rein just leave Zip confused. Eventually, Zip did what horses are inclined to do if you’re not properly directing them–they direct themselves, back to the barn. After the incident with Ross last week, luckily I had remembered to shut the gate on the alleyway, so she couldn’t actually go in.

Morgan told me she needed a few minutes and to leave her alone! (She was, uh, snappish, shall we say!)

So I turned Shortcake around, took her back out through the sheep field and on to the creekbed. I gazed longingly up at the trail to the upper pasture.

And looked back to the barn and Morgan. I love seeing my farm from the back of a horse.

I love where my horse can take me, and I love the sensation of freedom and loss of worry. Riding a horse is a very in the moment activity. Everything is beautiful from the back of a horse. I can inspect fences and creeks and springs, and I can dream.

I love this horse so much, I’d let her sleep in my bed, but that would be messy.

And then I gave up my upper pasture fantasies for the day because I didn’t want to leave sight of Morgan while she was on Zip and I went back to the barn.

By then, Morgan had decided she’d had enough frustration for the day and was ready to de-saddle. And I’d neglected to snap the lock on the driveway gate to the barn yard so the donkeys were browsing the lawn by the house and needed corralling.

We got everybody undone and washed and back in their places. I know that Morgan will work through her frustration and her neck reining mental block. Now that volleyball is over, she has time and we will ride and ride. Though just the one next time, I might ride by myself so Shortcake and I can do what we want to do. Man, I love that little horse. She is worth every bit of trouble and all the leery eyeballs she gives me when I pick up a halter. One of these days, she’s gonna love me as much as I love her. Or at the very least, she’s gonna tolerate me without so many dirty looks.

The storm finally came in early evening. The temperature dropped twenty degrees like that, and the goats went into hiding.

I was glad it wasn’t supposed to be much of a storm because my generator was in the shop. One set of plugs wasn’t working. It’s under warranty, so I decided to get it fixed before real winter strikes. I’ll be picking it up today, but it was another reminder that while a generator is a fine back-up, it’s not the ultimate. This little old farmhouse will see a wood stove installed in the fireplace before the season is in full force.

And me, I guess I’m about to become one with splitting wood.


  1. brookdale says:

    “Shortcake holds out her hooves for the handcuffs”…LOL! I can just see it! Thanks for the chuckle on a stormy windy morning.
    Morgan will conquer her reining problems soon and then you two will be “riding the ranges, where good luck never changes” I am sure.
    I love this story. My fantasy is just that, riding my (imaginary) horse up in my (imaginary) fields. Hope to see more riding stories.

  2. Remudamom says:

    Horses aren’t stupid. Teach her to neck rein. It’s not difficult and them Morgan will be more comfortable. Lay the rein on her neck then use direct rein to turn her head. She’ll catch on quickly.

  3. Remudamom says:

    Oh dear, my comment above sounds kind of *&%*). Not meant that way at all.

  4. mintamichelle says:

    Love it! It is all very exciting…. :happyflower:

  5. jodiezoeller says:

    Happy trails!

  6. wannabeafarmgirl says:

    Well good for Morgan giving it her best shot. She will get Zip back into the groove. Glad she is enjoying other interests like Volleyball, as she should. Luv U both!

  7. MaryZ says:

    Suzanne – Be careful when Zip returns to the barn and gets de-saddled without finishing the ride. They learn quick that this is an “easy out”. If you’re confident, put shortcake away and you jump on Zip and take her out for just a little bit or if you know how – “pony” her behind Shortcake. Have your trainer see if Shortcake will (or has experience to) pony another horse and have him show you how.

  8. emit says:

    that little store that you write about all the time sells pellet stoves. With the generator an all that is the way I would go.NO WOOD GATHERING! What happen to the free gas?

  9. phoneman says:

    Splitting wood is sometimes relaxing, if your not in a hurry or need it now.
    :woof: :woof: :woof:

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