Monday, September 13, 2010

Life on the Trail #1

Truthfully, you just never know what you might see on any cool, breezy west Texas morning. Sometimes it depends on the attitude of my horse. He gets a good brush down before we do anything. He loves his face brushed with the soft bristles of the small brush. He closes his eyes and appears to be dreaming. When I get to the inside of his ears, he twists his head sideways and pushes into me a bit. He usually cocks a foot up as I travel down the rest of his body, his neck, his sides, his belly, his butt and his legs. He thinks he's on vacation. Once I get all the knots out of his mane and tail, we’re ready to saddle up. He stands patiently while I get everything even and straight and tightened up. He turns his head to me and opens his mouth to take the bit, almost like he likes it, like he is looking forward to the next best thing. As we amble off, I stop him and tighten up the saddle again. Once I get it to the right hole, he gets to stretch…his absolute favorite part. I ask him for his left leg first. He lifts it and I pull it way out in front of him. It allows him to give a big ole stretch. Then we do the left leg. He usually squeezes his eyes closed on this one. I step in the stirrup and off we go. I can generally tell what kind of day we are going to have before we ever get out of the yard. He is either dead headed and quiet, just minding his own business, or he is ears perked and eyes watching every leaf that floats by or grasshopper that jumps. If he’s gonna get a little “jiggy with it” I’m in for a more stressful ride.
On the quiet days, he just plods along, nothing gets his attention; nothing stirs him up. We generally never break a walk on these rides. I just listen to the sounds of the morning, leaves rustling, train horns sounding at the crossings, cars zipping by, pump jacks whirring, gravel under tires, high lines crackling, tractors plowing, horses nickering in the distance. I’ve always got my eyes open for a jack rabbit, a prairie dog, a coyote, a lizard, or a horny toad.
This past week I saw three baby horny toads. Their bellies weren’t bigger than a nickel. I stepped off and even tried to catch one. However, when I reached down to catch him, as he flattened out to spit on me to protect himself, he disappeared. I just wanted to hold him and stroke his back. Word is, as long as there are big red ants, their dinner, there will be horny toads in west Texas . Hope that’s true.
Prairie dogs are prevalent in this area of Texas . They make this shrill chattering sound to ward you off if you get to close to their mound. They will stand their ground on top of their home especially if they have pups down below. Mosey has great respect for that sound and stays clear when a mom warns him to “stay back”. Isn’t nature interesting? Here he is, a zillion times her size, and he is fearful to cross her. Isn’t God amazing?
Coyotes will see you from a distance. Once they do, they turn and run or lumber across a field as fast as they can go. It’s odd to see them out during the day. They usually travel in packs of course, but I see them alone or in twos most often.
The cotton fields are really growing. The plants are full and green. There is lots of irrigation out here in west Texas . Those fields show the best growth. Right now you’ll see anything from pink or yellow blooms, to green bolls, to white cotton all on the same plant. Weird! We no longer ride between the rows since they are so bushy. Whoever thought I’d be talking about cotton?
On the days where everything from a simple quail flying up off the ground to a white trash sack minding its own business sends Mosey into a tizzy, the ride is a little different. I am consistently trying to keep him calm and get him to just relax. Sometimes when the wind is blowing harder, he is just uneasy. On those days he thinks the farm equipment that has been petrified in its place for years, that he has seen day after day, is going to reach out and get him. He looks at everything. His ears are all over the place. On these days he has to work a little harder. By loping and trotting him I try to distract him and get his attention on to something else…or just wear him out. It’s a different kind of ride. I’m more alert, more aware, more conscious of the surroundings that might stir him up. It’s just not as peace filled.
But truthfully, I’ll take any kind of ride I can get and any day I can do it. I just love to ride. After losing my passion for horses and riding for several years, and finally getting it back, horses are at the top of my friend list, especially Mosey. He knows what to expect of me. He knows I’m going to take care of him and protect him. And he expects me to. And I do.
Mosey and I will make the same ride, the same miles, almost the same trail, most days. It’s sort of like a ritual. While the scenery appears different every time, the consistency is relaxing. We always hope to meet someone on the trail. Occasionally we do. However, most days, it’s just me and Mosey, ambling along, thinking about family, about God and all our blessings. While I have had a few bumps in the road lately, I remain grateful. Life is still full and family is still the most important thing. My grandson should arrive anytime. He will rock my world. I’m looking forward to it. Happy trails!
Encourage One Another

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