My Lilyversary was last Sunday, July 8th. One year together! On that day, a year ago, I signed her $1 bill of sale.
I've had a tumultous horse ownership journey here in South FL, where neither of my 2 previous horses was with me for more than 9 months. I mean, who goes through 3 horses in a year? Not a normal, non-wealthy person who truly loves them...even my vet gave me a funny look when he first came out last year to vaccinate Lily and realized she was not Rhythm, even though he himself had declared Rhythm unsafe to ride after all of his neurological signs and recommended re-homing him. True, I did jump into the ownership of Rhythm way too fast after Cloud was taken from me, but I didn't know how else to cope with the loss of my heart horse. But Lily was simply fate. Right after finding Rhythm a home, I was given 24 hours to make up my mind (there had been a potential buyer for Lily at the time, and my barn manager said I had to choose: we either let the buyer look at her and split the profit from her sale, or I took her), and while I'd been looking at horses and wanted to take my time finding the 3rd (and hopefully last!) horse, I couldn't see any reason why not to take the little mare with the history of abuse who'd been doing so well with my training. So that's how I ended up signing that bill of sale last year.
To celebrate, I tacked her up in Dianne's Western saddle and we hit the trails. She was very calm going down the street, so on a whim, instead of heading down the powerlines under the blazing hot sun so we could hit the main trails, I veered right and took her into the shade skinny trails. We had never gone this way by ourselves-only in the company of other horses. She has been on them several times, however, and has always been extremely confident, insisting on leading, when we've gone on these trails with our friends, so she was familiar with them. She was pretty much as confident as if we were with company, and didn't try to turn around even once. We didn't trot because the sandy footing of the trails was deep (no rain for a couple of weeks now) and some parts of the trail had very low branches. Lily was adorable, navigating the narrowest parts of the trail without any kind of hesitation with the long strides of her power walk. At one point, some overgrown palm fronds were blocking the trail, and without pause, she stuck her head forward into the fronds, ears back and eyes closed, to shove them out of the way with her body. Her gesture made me laugh-usually she'd stop when the trail appeared to be blocked. All that ground work is paying off!
We eventually came back out on the powerlines, but a group of riders was coming back, and the sun was higher in the sky and still hotter, so I turned her around back onto the skinny trails and we took the long way through the trails-one of them opens up onto the park street that crosses through the powerlines, and leads directly to the main trails. It took as 3 times as long to get there, but at least it was cool in the shade. Once on the main trails, we trotted. Lily went again without hesitation, arching her neck and surging forward into her extended trot. After we'd gone through all of the trails once, I took her to one of the long straightaways under the trees and asked her to canter. We had never cantered on the trails by ourselves, either. She picked up the correct lead, and maintained a nice steady canter all the way down the straightaway, until I asked her to come back down to a trot. I was grinning from ear to ear.
We trotted for another 15 minutes or so, and then cantered one more time. I had clipped a water bottle holder to the saddle, and this time it started tapping Lily on her shoulder as we were cantering, which caused her to throw up her head and accelerate. I verbally asked her to trot again, and she obliged. We trotted down a loop in the trail to give her a chance to completely settle down, and then came out onto the powerlines. Lily automatically switched gears to a walk-she now knows that she is not allowed to go faster than a walk on the way home.
It was a really good ride.
The next day was Monday, and it was a long, exhausting day at work where one of our more critical patients died. It just set a negative tone for the rest of the day. I got to the barn in the evening feeling like I'd been emotionally mauled, to discover both Judy and Diana all tacked up and ready to go for a ride. They invited me to come along with them. I was beat, but allowed them to convince me, so I quickly tacked up Lily and got on. We had a long trail ride, going around the park and through the main trails, as the sun was going down. It was cool enough that the 3 mares barely broke a sweat. The 3 of us laughed and talked and just had a great time. It was the first time Judy, Diana and I were all able to ride together. By the time we made it back to the barn, I felt 100% better-my exhaustion had evaporated. Riding is definetely the best therapy!