The Oof Factor

Ahh…January.  The time of year every horse turns and looks reproachfully at the rider.  It’s not the cold.  Horses generally get frisky and like cold weather.

Surprisingly, it’s the cookies.  You’d think they’d love it, given every horse on the planet knows the sound of Mrs. Pasture’s cookies, no matter how quietly you try to sneak the jar into the tack room.

With their propensity to be bottomless cookie pits, one would hope for a little compassion.

But no.

We all get a loud Oof and that look the first time we mount after the holidays.  Who needs a scale?  We have horses.  Trust me.  They know EXACTLY how many tins of cookies, fruit cakes, candies and pies you consumed over the holidays.  And they have no compunction about letting you know that you are not the same size as you were last week.  Which they did notice, by the way, was heavier than the previous week.  You can stop any time now.

I’m very lucky.  My first ride(s) back are on Tiny.  Tiny is affectionate, huge, tolerant, huge, patient, huge, relaxed, huge, and forgiving.  Did I mention he’s HUGE?  He’s the perfect “get back on” horse.  He’s so huge not much registers on his radar.

I missed Tiny a lot.  He’s a real guy-guy, but loves to be hugged and fussed over.  He’s also good at commiseration and has a terrific sense of humor.  I couldn’t wait to bury my fingers in his foot-thick mane (great on freezing days!) and hug that giant head.  It was a good reunion.  He wasn’t mad at me for being gone, he’s not a big grudge holder.

He fell right back into the same quirky greeting rituals.  They all involve his lips.  He uses them the way an elephant uses it’s trunk.  There is no other horse, NONE, I would let be mouthy this way.  For him, his lips are hands, and he has to touch and hold everything.  At the risk of sounding utterly mushy, I find it so intimate and comforting when Tiny simply stands there, holding my sleeve.  It’s like a little kid holding onto your pant leg.  I like you.

I said to heck with it to the western saddle (recommended for my injury recovery) and went right for the dressage saddle.  Lighter for him, lighter for me to put on.

We do our little getting ready rituals.  He steals the crop from under my arm and holds it while I tighten the girth.  Once I get my gloves on, he drops it into the palm of my outstretched hand.  I slide my fingers under the girth at his belly to release any folds of caught skin, while he delicately snags my hood and pulls it up over my head.

We reach the mounting block.  I get on, conscientiously landing very lightly in the saddle.

Tiny omits a very loud Oof, turns around and looks at me reproachfully.

Dang.  He noticed.

Copyright © 2009. The Literary Horse. All rights reserved.
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