Tuesday, June 16, 2020

A taste for retirement

As the Covid-19 pandemic grinds on, Maine is reopening to tourism: beaches, vacation rentals, and shopping. The hordes that descended on Orris Falls Preservation only come on weekends now, but I choose my route carefully. I can "social distance" from atop my horse, but it's really a matter or enjoying the woods without clamoring crowds. I suspect these hikers miss a lot of what I'm seeing, purely based on noise and numbers. Mid-week, or early morning offer me the best times to ride, and may be the only time I can access the Orris Falls trail head.

Last week, John and I saddled up for an evening jaunt and spotted a fox at the forest edge along the power line. A few days ago, I came across a flock of turkeys, and a couple of deer. And there's the birdsong serenades that I use as training for bird identification.

Meandering along at the pace Harley chooses, I ride on the buckle, taking photos and videos of our adventures; what a life. I could do this all day, every day, if I didn't have to work. And John would do the same! Even working a little, or doing freelance, without the hassle of having to be somewhere by a certain time lessens the stress. And boy, I'd love to have a LOT less stress!

After 11 weeks working from home, attending online meetings, webinars, and computing on the laptop and phone,  I really developed a taste for the freelance gig and no commuting. I multi-tasked to the max! Laundry while I worked on library stuff, bread baking while listening to a webinar...the list goes on. So, this is what life could be like if I was always working from home, or retired!

Someone else is slowing down, heading towards retirement too. My best boy, Halawa Moon, is now 18. It's hard to believe I've had him 10 years already! Arthritis in his knees limits the amount of time I go out, and the pace. Each ride is Harley's choice. "Where shall we go today, Harley?" An hour and a half is good when he's feeling sparky. If he's up for a little uphill canter, away we go! If it's just a walk, or occasional jog, that's fine too. Yesterday, I decided to jump off for the steep descent down the power line, giving his knees a rest from lugging me around. The trails through Orris Falls have eroded and packed down early this year due to the "pandemic traffic", with the exception of our Secret Trail. John has told me, it may be time to start transitioning to Rolex. She has spunk, and a lot of spring in her step, but we need to develop a partnership like I did with Harley.

As Harley and I age together, we're mapping out our
plan. We need to find our own property, where I can stroll out in the evening and check on my herd, give them carrots for dessert, and kiss them on the nose. I want to have the comfort of looking out my window and seeing my horses, happily eating in their pasture. We need a ring for working Rolex, and possibly Ruffy as well. I'm not a big fan of ring riding in my dotage, but some of the basics need to be done in that setting.  My one-sided wonder, Harley, will not be forced to endure circling, bending, extending, but I just might create an obstacle course for fun and games, complete with a bridge, pool noodles, and a gate to practice opening and closing while on board. These are required skills for any good trail horse anyway.

Harley and I reached our Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program for Recreational Riding 25 hour milestone two years ago. Last year, we reached 100 hours. At this point, I don't plan to push him on for the next mark, 500 hours. We will take each day we get, and enjoy our time together, in,  and out ,of the saddle. Watch out Rolex, I just may get a T.I.P. number for you!

John passing out carrots, sneaky Harley stealing the bag!

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