The Trees Shall Clap Their Hands

For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12

Isn’t summer beautiful? I must confess that out of all God’s seasons, summer is my favourite. Everything is alive in the Highveld summer; birds and grass, and trees and thunderstorms and that special secret shine in a horse’s coat. The world is so much bigger and brighter and more colourful and sometimes it’s so beautiful that the very sky seems to be weeping for the beauty of it.

Naturally, there’s no better way to see the lovely world than through the ears of a horse, and if those ears are golden and have a tuft of silver forelock poking out between them, it’s even better.

Golden like the halo of an angel

Golden like the halo of an angel

My splendid charger Skye has been doing excellently. Her fitness is picking up with a noticeable reduction around the waistline; with her round hay belly almost gone, Skye presents a rather slimmer figure. She doesn’t puff and pant as much as she used to anymore, either. Three weeks of brisk walking work has definitely done her good, and we’re ready to build in some more trotting to see if we can get those lovely muscles to grow even more.

Training-wise she has get to run away with me, snaffle and all, although I have to hang on quite a bit when she gets excited. That has always been the rule with Skye when she’s in a Valiant Steed sort of mood, and I’m as happy as a bird. She might not be the conformation queen of the world, looking at her somewhat thickset throat and the hoof hardener I keep spraying on her feet to counteract their softness, but for temperament, for courage, for spirit, for pure golden snorting inner-radiance beauty, there’s no match for Skye’s The Limit. Oh, and I adore her. Have I mentioned that before?

Then there’s Magic, who should have been called Miracle, because he seems to be a continuous one. (Pity Miracle sounds a bit girly, or I would rename him). Having lost count around the fifteenth fall and ridden out more bucking fits, unexpected spooks and general shenanigans than I care to remember, I keep waiting for him to do something stupid. He is, after all, four years old, high-energy and spirited. And he doesn’t. He probably will, sooner or later. (This is the part where you all shout “Pessimist!”) But he hasn’t. Not a thing. He’s occasionally young and hot and a bit fizzy, but has yet to do something really brainless, which is a major plus. Every horse I’ve ever ridden on a regular basis has done something brainless at one point, with the exception of Skye who is never brainless.

The stable owner and a pair of pals were going on an outride yesterday and Magic and I

A fantastic view

A fantastic view

tagged along like a very large horsefly. Or Gadsfly, if you prefer. (Poor guy. Imagine racing under the name of Gadsfly!). Magic was given a compliment for his gorgeous silvery colour and was his usual photogenic self when the cameras arrived, and we clattered off into the beautiful hills at Bushwillow, filled with wildlife.

I admit to being somewhat apprehensive; I had ridden him out in a group once before, at a very slow walk for a very short period, and he was fine. But the hills are more challenging, and I am, as you may have deduced, slightly paranoid. I needn’t have worried. We stuck to a brisk walk, but Magic stepped out on a happy, loose rein, head nodding, long legs driving forward. He stared at a scary grey rock, but didn’t panic. A blesbuck shot out from under his nose. He calmly watched it go. Zebras snorted and galloped away; Magic snorted back, but thankfully didn’t gallop anywhere. On the way home, he stayed on his loose rein, sweet as pie, without jogging or breaking into a trot or any feisty-young-horse nonsense.

He was happy to lead the way even through quite dramatic terrain; he was equally happy to bring up the rear. The other horses, whom he didn’t know, occasionally brushed up against him; he didn’t turn a hair. He was an angel.

Oh yes, and I did mention that my awesomest parents ever agreed to let me buy him, as well as paying for half of him? I’m over the moon!!!

Thank You, Lord, for Your perfect timing!

Who says ponies can't be beautiful?

Who says ponies can’t be beautiful?

Little Arwen just had her second AHS shot, so she’s just plodding. We are making a little progress with the outrides, but slow and steady wins the race when it comes to Arwie. I still think she has one of the most exquisite heads I’ve ever seen.

Thunder is also doing splendidly. He’s been ridden five or six times now and doing well; although he is definitely very dead to the legs, he’s quiet as a sheep and the impulsion is definitely improving. I ride him with spurs, but I think I’ll be able to wean him off them quite easily once he’s gotten the hang of things.  I’ve ridden him bareback as well and he’s super comfortable as well as not being at all phased about it. In fact, Thunder’s being pure gold and I’m really enjoying him.

I’m riding him mostly in the ring now. His turning skills are improving, although he’s still a

Gentle eyes

Gentle eyes

bit sticky on that; he has nice brakes – it takes a few seconds for the message to sink in, but he doesn’t ever brace his neck or jaw against the bit, dropping his nose at the slightest pressure on his mouth. I ride him in his paddock sometimes, too, where he’s pretty much just the same as in the ring, and have ridden him at a walk and trot both inside and out (though I have yet to rise to the trot on him; seems to confuse them when they’re such babies). His gaits aren’t the most impressive-looking, in fact he has a distinctly low knee action, but he’s much more comfortable than his high-stepping father.

Lungeing-wise, I took him over a few trotting poles the other day and he figured them out quickly, albeit stepping between them too much in a walk. He is also cantering pretty nicely on the lunge now.

Not just a pretty face... but that too

Not just a pretty face… but that too

Oh, and I’ve started taking Blizz along when Skye and I go on outrides. Although she’s pretty much tuckered out after forty-five minutes composed mostly of walking, Blizz seems to enjoy herself immensely. She’s good about staying with us unless she’s truly exhausted and likes to chase guinea fowls or steenbuck, but she’s happy to come back after a few seconds’ yelling and whistling. Skye occasionally has a silly spook at her when she comes bounding through the noisy reeds towards us, but otherwise, she seems to enjoy her canine companion, detouring carefully around her and waiting patiently if I have to stop her and call Blizz back.

The life of a Disaster: one long endless walk, with runs in between. Puppy paradise!

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