The alternative title for today’s post is “WTF?” Was Mercury in Pluto or something? I’m so confused why today went so off the rails…and yet we were all able to enjoy a lovely ride anyway.

No human, not today, no thank you (but starting to relax at least)

It really all started because I’m a dumb human with smart animals. I have a routine on weekend ride days, and naturally Benny has picked right up on this. I’m not subtle. I sleep late, soak up some husband cuddles (if he isn’t already futzing with things), drink a lingering cup of coffee, then get dressed and start packing for the day. Cyrus was unbothered by all this, preferring to lounge until I called him to the truck, but not Benny. Poor dude is too afraid of being left behind (which I do often for various reasons) to settle while I prep, instead he just follows me everywhere. This is a problem of my own making.

Okay, maybe? There is food involved…

I made the mistake of trying to feed him his breakfast after I’d already put my riding clothes on and started packing lunch, but Bemny wasn’t having it. He refused to even glance at his bowl, preferring to shadow me so I couldn’t duck out the door without him. But I was planning for a longer solo ride and I knew he needed to eat first, so this began the battle of wills, idiot mom versus stubborn and determined Labrador. I won in the end but it took over an hour, and I had to turn it into a game, do tricks, get a handful of kibble.

Finally, a happy dog

Eventually we made it to the barn, and I made sure to putz extra long prepping the trailer so my mood had time to disperse. My husband even warned me to ensure I didn’t take any of this to Tarma, and boy was he right. I was able to halter her easily enough in the pasture, but once I tossed her in the arena so I could change the gullet in the Wintec I had a different horse. Today was the type of day I feel utterly inadequate for what Tarma needs, I’m impatient and I have plans and agendas and Tarma just has feelings. I hear snatches and echos of so many wonderful horse folks, Warwick Shiller to Clay Wright to my best friends, but all Tarma has in that moment is me. I had the halter but I spent an endless amount of time just matching steps with her, not trying to herd her or get closer, just doing what she did. Just when I was wondering if she’d tune me out all damn day, she turned to me and accepted a treat and the halter.

If the dog gets a treat, Tarma also gets a treat. It’s a rule.

I questioned my plans and my hopes for the day every step of the way, especially when I was booting her up and she kept pooping and swishing her tail, clear Tarma irritation signs. Should I stay home? Ride around the property? Try some ring work? Unboot her, give her a scratch and call it a day? If we weren’t heading for a hard mountain ride next weekend I might have, but I was hoping for at least a tack check and leg stretching ride, and I knew it wasn’t quite fair to give her two weeks off and then a hard ride, so I loaded her up and away we went.

Dog bowl on a leash! Finally, smart human!

As soon as we hit the trail head, I unloaded a different horse. Tarma stood calmly, munching away while I tacked up and puttered. She didn’t even mind the traffic the occasionally whized by behind her. We crossed the road and mounted up and it was like the entire morning and early afternoon hadn’t happened. Despite not having gone out solo for awhile, we were on a loose rein the whole time. Benny was finally happy, and Tarma just marched out, as at peace with her life as she is in pasture. Neither horse nor dog put a foot wrong the entire seven miles, even when I had to hop off and save us from blackberries (and eat some too, Tarma doesn’t like them but Benny does). We even got in a long and steady and solid canter in a section that was safe for Benny, flowing up the trail in sync.

Seven good miles, despite the five hours of effort just to get to the trailhead!

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After years of borrowing horses, working to ride and catch riding, I finally have my own horse, a spicy chocolate mare...but also a demanding day job (who doesn't?), a nerdy husband, a soccer loving kid who needs to be parented (by me, duh), and the ultimate trail buddy, a chocolate Labradork!

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