Saturday, September 5, 2015

Two old duffers went for a ride...

August is over and yet it seems like summer just began a few weeks ago. The summer reading program ended at the library and the kids are heading back to school another two days. Leaves are starting to let go on the ancient maple over the house, a gentle reminder of what's to come. Is autumn really just around the corner? As summer winds down, I look forward to cooler, bug-less rides, and horses not permeated with the odor of fly spray. The horses will stop stamping and swishing, enjoying fly-free meals with a lot less irritation. But it will also be time to say goodbye to evening daylight and rides after work.

August raced by me as I faced a number of obstacles. John was injured in a fall which landed him in the hospital for 5 days. They sent him home with directions to not lift more than 20 pounds and to stay home from work for 3 weeks. In the middle of that hiatus, my hay farmers called with approximately 450 bales of hay I needed to come pick up in one weekend. My stomach churned as I stressed about how I was going to get the hay. My wonderful family and a few of John's friends pulled through for us. My father brought his pickup truck and trailer, one brother came over from New Hampshire with his pickup, another brother and his son came all the way from Connecticut. Without their equipment and muscles--well, let's just say I might have missed out on getting most of our winter hay! With all the extra help, we moved a total of 422 bales of hay. I feel blessed to have such support.

And then Harley managed to injure himself! We brought the horses inside late one night as a thunderstorm began to brew. So I still don't know if I missed the injury at that point, or whether he did it in the stall. But when I turned him out the next morning I saw a gaping hole in his buttock. Back inside we went while I washed it out and treated it with Vetericyn. There was no bandage to fit this, but we did manage to track down giant square pads for protection, although his swishing tail manages to rip each one off, every day. The wound has healed up a lot and looks much better now. When injuries like this happen, I think of that picture making its way around on Facebook of the horse wrapped in bubble wrap. Not a bad idea!

So all the exercise duty has fallen on me as well as the daily barn chores. I always wanted a career with horses; so this wouldn't be too bad if I didn't have a day job too. Unfortunately, I haven't ridden the beasts nearly as much as they need it! Rolex Girl has become a bit feisty, to say the least, and spooked more than Harley on my last ride with her!

After all his time off waiting for the wound to close up, I expected Harley to be full of himself. He managed to put in only one stop and spin as we headed to Orris Falls, but we made it past the "scary woodpile" without another hitch. On the trail, we met a cyclist--no big deal--and I have to admit I was proud of my boy! In fact, I called John to tell him I'd made it home safely and that Harley was a star. It's not often I can say that when we ride solo after a few weeks off.

Saying that, John and I might invest in a pair of safety impact vests. We just don't seem to bounce quite like we did in our twenties.  And after our last debacle--we can't afford to both be laid up! The thought of wearing an nice insulating layer of foam doesn't really appeal to me for summer riding, but it sure beats being injured.

My best boy mowing the lawn after our ride.
Now with the onset of September,  I'm thinking about what I need to get done before winter hits: buy oil, buy firewood, touch up peeling paint on the house, and think about finding a snowblower. If this coming winter is anything like the last, I'm not sure I can face it armed with just a shovel! Keeping the house and the barn cleared it a tremendous amount of work and not for the weak-armed. If the Farmer's Almanac prediction is true, Southern Pines, North Carolina will be mighty crowded with horse trailers from New England!

So, what a guy to do when he can't ride? Why spoil the horses, of course! Hand out treats, brush coats, comb manes and tails, give out more treats. I think Ruffy would follow John anywhere for another bite of carrot.

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