Sunday, June 7, 2009
Anyone with any history with horses is probably privy to their aptitude as therapists. If anything in life is wrong, go spend time with your horse. You'll feel better. Really.
Clifford's painting stints of late have been pretty hysterically funny, interesting and loads of fun all at the same time. However, I have gotten preoccupied with "real life" issues and haven't done anything artistic with Clifford in several days. Today I decided to ride.
I've been pretty spoiled with spending summers up on Drummond. What can compare with turning one horse loose to run on the beach while you ride the other? It makes riding anywhere else fall short by comparison.
I thought I might be able to capture some of that old elation by trying the same thing at home. Reva Ridge Farm is a secluded place. There are dirt roads, but my horses are in their teens and seasoned enough not to do anything stupid (hopefully) in traffic.
I saddled up Trudy and turned Clifford loose. Cliffy wandered out into the backyard and started hoovering up clover. I swung aboard little Trude and we trotted up the hill to the driveway. Ripple followed along. I looked back at Clifford who was still busy grazing. "Hey, Clifford! Come on!"
He raised his head, still chewing, looked at me, and then dropped his head again.
"I guess he doesn't want to go," I said to Trudy.
We walked down the hill. Unlike her adventurous brother, Trudy is never thrilled to go by herself. She did not call out, but swung her head this way and that, trying to see if he might be catching up.
"Oh, forget him," I said. "He's missing out."
I had read somewhere that the best way to get a horse in shape is to trot a long, straight line. So that's what I asked her for. Trudy is little but a trotting machine. Clifford, though nearly a hand taller, has to run to keep up with her. We headed down the road. The neighbor's horses came running across the field up to the fence, three of them standing in a row, looking at us wide-eyed and snorting. Trudy wavered, trotting sideways in their direction.
"Knock it off," I said. "Quit yer flirting."
The three pasture mates spun into action and ran along the fence with us as we clipped briskly down the road. Rippy followed us, keeping a close eye on the neighbor horses, making sure they weren't going to interfere.
We crossed the neighbor's back field to come up behind the barn. Trudy was really flying now. She had been good, and not called out, but she was anxious to get back to her brother. We came round the front of the barn. No Clifford.
"Where'd he go?"
We looked around. I thought maybe he by now was running up the road after us. But just then I heard a noise. I looked into the barn and was surprised to see him standing in the aisle. He had forsaken his clover.
He had his head down and was nosing through the box of watercolors, flipping the sponges, rifling through the tubes of paint!
"Well, what's this! You want to make some more pictures?!"
I was so thrilled. I felt like the art teacher whose student had just asked for an extra credit project. Clifford turned and went over to the tack box on the wall. I had left a small sandwich bag of grain there, which I had been using as a reward for his painting efforts. He began mouthing the bag and crackling the plastic. AHA! The truth was out.
"You need to sell something. Then we'll talk. You think in these economic times, we do art just for FUN? Think again, buddy!"
I opened the stall door and he went in. But, he was right. The painting was a fun thing we did together. Maybe we'll be back at it tomorrow.