In Which New Boots Have Unexpected Consequences

New Mountain Horse tall boots!

Yay!  And OW!

For the non-horsey: tall boots are cut at least an inch too high, because the leather will soften and drop around your ankles a bit.  This means they cut into the tender area behind your knee, while awaiting maximum drop, and rub the crap out of your heel tendons.  Blister city.

These weren’t too bad.  I walked a whole twenty feet before developing my first blisters. (Trust me, boots exist that are capable of blistering most of your leg in under five feet, flat.)

I invested in super padded self-stick gauze bandages.  They’re keeping my blisters from getting blisters.  Win-win. (It takes iron will-power to break in new boots.  New boots do everything they can to break you right back.)

Yesterday, I forgot to pack an extra pair of footwear for the barn, in case I had to walk farther than 50 feet. (The gauze pads give me 30 feet of extra walking range!)

I rode Hudson, and we had a terrific workout. I think we actually made an entire circuit of the arena in a semi-correct position.  Hudson worked up a sweat.  I worked up a sweat.

The boots were incredibly comfortable up here:

Hudson and I usually go pick up Woodrow to pony before we start, or after we’ve finished.  It gives Woodrow an extra 20-30 minutes of walking (he’s in PT) and Hudson gets company for the booooring part.

20 minutes into our cool-out ponying walk, Hudson is still steaming.  Ordinarily, this is the point where I’d get off, untack, and just hand walk the boys.

I look down at my boots.  So not going to happen.

I drop the reins on Hudson’s neck, tuck Woodrow’s lead rope under my leg, and text Bella:

Jane: Hmm…ponying.  H isn’t cooling out.  Ok to switch seats, pony H off W?

I wasn’t sure if weight-bearing had been added to Woodrow’s physical therapy. I stare at the screen in my hands, while using my seat to direct Hudson around the arena. God I love this horse.  A horse you can pony from and text on at the same time? Goldmine. I wait for the return text bing. Resist the temptation to play Bejeweled.

Even I can’t justify playing a game on my cell while riding.

Bing.

Bella: Sure!  Go for it.

I’ve only been on Woodrow once, months ago.  I don’t usually do first rides bareback in a halter, but it felt fine…?  He had been mildly surprised, but it went well. I’ll do the same thing today.

I untack Hudson, still steaming, and halter him. When I do not take the expected course up to their paddock, they glance at each other, ears swiveling in a horse code (similar to Morse code) of chatter. I try to ignore them talking behind my back. It makes me feel like a school marm.

Woodrow: Dude. What’s she doing?

Hudson: No idea.  Bizarre. You hungry?

Woodrow: Always.

Hudson: Stupid. We could be eating.

Woodrow: Hey, there’s still some lunch left.  Try leaning.

Hudson: Leaning?

Woodrow: Lean toward the food?  Like…you know…hint.

Hudson: I do not lean. Leaning is beneath me. I yank.

Woodrow: Whatever. Too late. Look where we are.

Hudson: Damn.

I’m standing on the mounting block, calculating distances, trajectories, and potential Jane-velocity.  Woodrow is only slightly shorter than Hudson.  Not entirely sure I can “leap” instead of “lower” myself on his bare back.  I try to factor in that I’ll be leaping while holding another horse.

Hmm. I change the angles in my head.

One of the trainers takes pity on me and offers me a leg up.  After my last fiasco getting a leg up, I turn her down flat, but thank her profusely for holding Hudson, so the only thing I have to work out is how to get ON Woodrow.

Turn  mounting block on its side, pretend I’m ten….

I’m on in 2 seconds, with no embarrassing misses. Age denial: it’s a good thing.

Woodrow is bulked up like an Offensive Lineman. He’s a tank! How great is that? Tank horses are comfortable. I can hear Hudson sniff: leaner horses are more graceful.

(Not true, but I’m not going to hurt his feelings.)

The trainer smiles and hands me Hudson’s lead rope. Woodrow’s head is high in the air, very still, one questioning ear turned toward me. I laugh. It’s adorable:

Woodrow: Hi….?

I pat him on the neck.

Jane: Hi! We’re going for a walk, cutie pie.

I expect this to answer his question. I am so wrong. The conversation has just started.

Woodrow: Yeah. Um…I think you made a mistake.  This is how it goes? You ride that horse, and I keep you company. Not in my owner’s manual that you have clearance?

Woodrow (to Hudson): Cutie pie?

Hudson shrugs.

Jane: No, it’s fine, I called your mom. We’re just going to walk. You and Hudson are just trading jobs.

I squeeze with my legs, and lay the lead rope against his neck: let’s go that away.

Both ears swivel back at me. Not a hoof moves.

Woodrow: Nooo…I think this is wrong…? That horse lugs you around.  I stroll and rubberneck.

Huh.  Meanwhile, Hudson has begun tossing his head, uncharacteristically surging forward and back, antsy to get going.  I stare at Hudson.  One of Woodrow’s ears swivels, pointing at Hudson.

Woodrow: Hey.  She’s smart after all! Who knew? (Sotto voice: Hudson, she looked at you when I pointed!)

Woodrow: (back to me) That’s right. You ride him.  See? He wasn’t lost.  You didn’t look hard enough.

Pause.

Woodrow: You can get off any time.

Hudson is eyeballing the soft dirt of the arena. Uh-Oh.  I see horsey dust angels in the bubble over his head.

Hudson: I’m naked!  Naked naked NAKED!  OOOooooooo….I love being naked. Mom? Look the other way for just a sec, K?

Woodrow: Dude. I’m naked too. And she’s on me.  Think you can focus, and help out with that?

Hudson: Uh. No.  Hey. THAT looks like a good spot to roll.

Woodrow: No one is rolling. Not if I can’t.

Although he hasn’t responded to my squeeze, clucking noises, or neck rein, Woodrow and I are on the same side. No. Rolling.  I pull his lead to the side and tattoo his ribs lightly with my calves.

Woodrow: What? No!  You still think you should be up there?  MISTAKE.

Hudson: Haha! Neener neener.  It’s not a mistake. C’mon, let’s GO. We used to do this all the time with Dinero. Look guy, NBD, okay?

Woodrow: Who the heck is Dinero? And dude, don’t yank me.

Jane: He’s right W, let’s go. You have to cart me around for a while.

Hudson: Told you.

Jane: Hudson, shush. You’re not helping!

Woodrow: This is so wrong. Fine.  I’m walking.

Pause.

Woodrow: Hey. Cute mare, twelve o’clock. Check out the wash rack!

Hudson: Dude. Awesome.  She’s hot.

Suddenly, we’re walking briskly toward the wash rack. Um. Gelding I’ve don’t know very well (from up here) touching noses with mare I don’t know? So not going to let that happen.

I rein him away, rather abruptly.

Woodrow to Hudson: Told you this was wrong.

Hudson: Damn.

We walk.  Every now and then Woodrow slows a bit and swivels an ear back to me.  Couldn’t be clearer.

Woodrow: NOW are we done…?

I cue him to keep moving out.

Jane: No. And you just made the time longer.

Woodrow: Shoot.

Hudson: Now you know what I have to put up with. And stop asking. I’m hungry.

Jane: Hudson, SHUT UP.

Hudson: (innocently) Geeze, just talking.

Woodrow: Dude. How do you stand it?

Jane: Guys? Helllllo.  I’m right here.  I can hear you.

Woodrow and Hudson, simultaneously: SO?

New boots. The source of blisters on many levels.

But SO worth it.

(I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time!)