Two milestones

On Friday, Orion turned four weeks old!IMG_3506So big!

And on Friday, I rode Dixie for the first time since October 19th. I think my friend K rode her twice after that, and R and C at the barn have ponied her a few times, and of course I’ve turned her out in the arena as often as possible. But there’s no getting around it: she’s been out of work for three and a half months.IMG_3522So dirty.

It would’ve been so easy to stretch that to four or five months, or start looking for someone to part-lease her. Orion was fussy all night Thursday and I really didn’t get much sleep. Then it took four hours to get out of the house, because we’re really not very efficient at life with a baby yet, and during that four hours the sky went from a purple sunrise to scudding grey clouds to actual rain falling on me. I really didn’t want to ride on a blustery windy day, but I didn’t want to wait til next week, and I sure didn’t want to ride sloppy trails on a rainy weekend day with the usual weekend crowds.

So I sucked up and went. If I start making excuses for little things today, I won’t make any of my riding or running goals for this year. And riding and running really are that important to me. Of course Orion needs me the most right now, and I made a big commitment to him, but I can squeeze in a few other high-priority activities. I’m sidelining needlepoint (even though I’d love to make Orion a Christmas stocking — I have plenty of time before he’ll remember it), and fiction writing, and joining a gym to do yoga and lift weights. But not Dixie.

I actually made it out twice last week and ran with her. I wanted to get a feel for how she’d do mentally, and I wanted to see where I was at physically.

The first run was last Saturday, and it was the hardest run I’ve ever done in my entire life. I knew I’d basically have to start over, and I knew starting over was hard, but holy shit, y’all, it was so hard. I was pouring sweat, my lungs felt like daggers were stabbing them, and my heart was pounding like it was going to explode — and that was just from hiking up the first hill in 70 degree weather. The usual weekend crowds were out, and Dixie was sure she’d never seen hikers, dogs, or bicycles before. She was very hot and I was quite glad to be on the ground.IMG_3499I wasn’t quite ready to leap on after that, so I ran again on Wednesday. It actually wasn’t the second hardest run of my life — it was much, much easier than that. My time didn’t improve very much, but I didn’t feel like I was going to stroke out and it was easier to breathe. And more importantly, my horse was perfect. Seriously, she’s never been so good on a leadline run before. She stayed behind me or shoulder-to-shoulder beside me, walking when I walked and gaiting slowly when I lumbered into a run. She didn’t try to shove me out of the way to get the best line on the trail, and she didn’t spook at the handful of people we saw.

So Friday I rode! I did have the good sense to turn her out to roll and buck first.

IMG 3515 from Funder on Vimeo.

And then it took 45 minutes to curry off half her winter coat, argh. But Dixie was absolutely a rockstar when I got on. She started to get a little nervous at the top of the hill, so I sidepassed her back and forth down the trail for a hundred feet or so and she started listening to me.

I have to apologize to Mel. A couple weeks ago I was making fun of her for not wanting to ride when there was a 40% chance of showers. Well, walking a very fresh horse up that stupid slick-ass mud hill, I suddenly remembered that I hate to ride in the rain too! Everything was a little slithery and I was totally paranoid that D would slip and pull a tendon.

So we walked. There were three or four spots where the footing was sand and I asked her for a trot, but mainly we walked. She gave me perfect walk/trot transitions, and she was careful with her feet, and she wasn’t spooky.IMG_3519Yeah, that bridle path is a shameful mohawk. :-/

The main thing I was thinking about was how I trust her. I’m not stupid about it; she’s a horse with a brain the size of an orange, and she’s only brave when she thinks I’m right there with her backing her up. But I do trust Dixie to do her job: carry me down the trail, at the speed I choose. Spook in place if you must spook, and do what you can to stay on your feet.

That’s what I expected of her, and that’s exactly what she did. Even though she hadn’t been ridden in three months, and it was windy, and we were alone, and the trail was slick.

She really is better than I deserve.IMG_3467

Orion continues to be a lovely child. When he was about three weeks, the lights started to come on, and we started getting the sense that he was a little person looking around. He deliberately looks at different things now. If he’s crying and I pick him up and ask him why he’s crying, he’ll look at me and stop crying (and wait to be fed, lol — he’s still pretty singleminded!)IMG_3501The littlest wizard and his dragons.

He’s very strong, and he’s holding his head up pretty well now. He’s also discovering that his hands are under his control — he’s just starting to reach out and touch things on purpose, and he’s starting to use his fingers to grasp things. He’s growing like a weed and has completely outgrown a couple of his 0-3 month onesies.IMG_3497That onesie really doesn’t fit anymore.

He’s also pretty gassy and fussy. He doesn’t wail inconsolably, but he does need to be held and soothed and fed pretty often throughout the night. Surely one day he’ll grow out of it :)

FullSizeRenderI’m great!IMG_3525Wait…IMG_3526I’m terrible!