Barn Sour

DSC_1547.JPG Most of my experience with horses was with a horse named Shiloh that my grandfather had when I was a kid. Shiloh was barn sour, which basically meant that she wasn’t ridden very often and had grown to detest the idea. She wanted nothing but to stay in the barn.

To ride her you first had to catch her, which wasn’t easy even though she didn’t have anywhere to run. She knew what it meant when anyone showed up and took a bridle off the barn wall and she’d make it as hard as she could. Even after I’d caught her she’d jerk her head to the side and try to keep her mouth closed to keep that bridle bit from going in.

But a big part of being barn sour is being lazy, so she didn’t put much energy into the fight. She knew she didn’t have the stamina to match that of a twelve year old boy that wanted to ride. She also knew it wouldn’t be  a long ride. Once out into the pasture and back — that’s all.

Riding her out to the far fence on my grandfather’s land was just as hard as catching her. She’d constantly try to turn around. If I guided her to the left, she’d try to turn all the way left — back to the barn. When I corrected to the right, she’d over-compensate again. It was all about getting back to the barn. It took constant prodding and correction to keep her headed away, and the farther away from the barn she got, the worse it would get.

But, once we reached that fence, the hard work would pay off. I’d lean forward, grip the reigns, and hold on tight, because the ride back to the barn was fast and furious. She wasn’t a particularly fast horse, but that ride back to the barn was intense, and I rode her bareback, so it wasn’t easy to stay mounted at full speed. (Falling meant a hard tumble and a long walk because Shiloh wasn’t going to wait around. After a fall I’d find her at the barn, waiting for me to take off that briddle. In this case she wasn’t hard to catch. She knew she’d won and she knew the ride was over.)

Yesterday’s bike ride reminded me of riding Shiloh. There was a howling, chilly wind out of the West, but I was determined to get some exercise after all that time sitting on a plane. I rode directly into the wind. It took me an hour to get twenty kilometers out. But then, when I turned around, I leaned forward, gripped tightly, and flew back to the apartment in half that time.

Another long, dark winter is coming, and I really don’t want to wind up like Shiloh: fat, lazy, and barn sour.

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