I love it when my horse looks up from his hay, sees me at the gate with his bridle in hand, and comes right to me. Red usually meets me at the gate unless he's way out grazing, or the times I catch him napping. I hustled him into the barn for a quick once-over (a-ok) then threw the bareback pad on and slipped his bit in (nice and toasty warm from being snuggled in the front pocket of my Carhartts, under my "Nanook" parka). Was I ever glad I did that last thing - putting his bit in! I knew right away from the way he was softly snorting & blowing at familiar objects while tacking up what kind of mood he was in - pent up and ready to run.
And run we did, with his ears going every which way like radar gone haywire. We walked (a little), jigged (a lot), trotted, cantered, and boogied along through the deep snow & tractor ruts out in the back woods. We took a lap around the hayfield (at a gait which I can only describe as "bounding"), and I did make an unplanned dismount at one point where he 'geed' and I 'hawed,' but luckily I am getting pretty familiar with all the just-tall-enough stumps, trees, etc that serve as mounting blocks.
I decided his energy level might benefit from some lunging in the arena, so when we came around the loop into the courtyard at Rhio's barn, we slipped into the indoor and spent a few minutes working in nice footing. It was good to see him move, as I really can't tell how he's moving at all when we're in the snow. Even though I haven't worked on his neck since August, he looked great!
We then headed back to his barn, and he was happy to comply with all my requests to walk, and we had a second joyful bounding lap around the hayfield before making our way home. Kelso got pretty bogged down in the snow trying to follow us around the field, so he ended up just sitting in the middle and watching us. When we came to our exit point, I couldn't see him as his red-and-white markings blended perfectly into the snow and background of trees.
I usually find a mental escape from the daily grind every time I ride, but sometimes I spend my ride pondering life issues. Not a on ride like today's, though! This kind of ride puts me entirely in the moment with my horse as I have to concentrate utterly on him to make sure I stay in the driver's seat. I have no concept of time passing, and really couldn't tell you how long we were out there, but I can remember the exact timber of every snort, the wild way his forelock stuck up between his fuzzy ears, the tiny snowflakes that fell and didn't melt on his mane on our way home, and the feel of his muscles working beneath me. It is exhilarating and peaceful at the same time.